United Hospital Fund paid tribute to Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, Scott B. Salmirs, and Herbert Pardes, MD, at its annual gala, acknowledging their important contributions to improving health and health care.
Drawing a crowd of more than 550 health care, business, and community leaders to The Waldorf-Astoria, the event marked the opening of UHF's 138th fund-raising campaign in support of its work to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker.
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, received the Health Care Leadership Award for her visionary work to build a national “culture of health.” Dr. Lavizzo-Mourey, who recently announced plans to step down as the Foundation's head after almost 14 years, is widely credited for transforming its role and work, redefining it from that of “grant-making” to “effecting social change.” At the heart of her approach is an emphasis on deeper, smarter collaborations with both traditional health care stakeholders and sectors as diverse as finance, technology, criminal justice, and real estate. Four themes now organize the Foundation's work: Healthy Children, Healthy Weight; Healthy Communities; Transforming Health and Health Care Systems; and Leadership for Better Health.
The Health Care Leadership Award was established by United Hospital Fund in 1998 to recognize strong and sustained leadership aimed at improving health care in New York City and beyond. Previous recipients of the award include Howard P. Milstein, Michael A. Stocker, MD, Peter May, Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Kenneth Raske, James and Merryl Tisch, Anthony Watson, Martin D. Payson, John K. Castle, Mathilde Krim, PhD, Sanford I. Weill, and Maurice R. Greenberg.
Scott B. Salmirs, president and CEO of ABM Industries, an international facility management provider, received the Distinguished Community Service Award for his role in founding Donate Eight, a nonprofit organization that has galvanized members of New York's real estate, building management, and building services community to help address New York's desperate need for more organ donors. New York State is ranked last in the nation in the percentage of people registered as organ donors. The result: 10,000 New Yorkers are awaiting a transplant, and every 18 hours a New Yorker dies because of that delay. Mr. Salmirs says he was drawn to the cause because it doesn't require a “cure,” just simply educating people and getting them registered in the New York State Donate Life Registry.
Donate Eight's annual reception has become a “must-attend” evening for hundreds of real estate executives—raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, dispelling myths, and showcasing the miracle of donation. Spurred by the funds Donate Eight has raised since its founding in 2012—now $3.2 million—and with the pledge of continuing support, LiveOnNY, the federally designated organ procurement organization for the New York metropolitan region, has established the LiveOnNY Foundation to extend its critical work of encouraging New Yorkers to register as organ donors, raising awareness about donation as a gift of life, and supporting donor families in their decision-making and in their grief. New initiatives will also support scientific research on transplantation and opportunities to advance living donation.
Established by UHF in 1987, the Distinguished Community Service Award recognizes volunteer leadership that significantly improves health care in New York City. For the eleventh year, the Award has been generously supported by TIAA, the leading provider of retirement services in the medical, academic, research, and cultural fields. Ron Pressman, chief executive officer of Institutional Financial Services at TIAA, presented the award to Mr. Salmirs.
Herbert Pardes, MD, executive vice chairman of the board of trustees of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, was recognized with a Special Tribute as a world-class medical and civic leader who, for more than 50 years, has been an outspoken champion of academic medicine, advocate for better mental health care, and force for innovation and patient-centered care. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, and the nation have been the direct beneficiaries of his wisdom and vision. A psychiatrist by training and director of the National Institute of Mental Health from 1978 to 1984, Dr. Pardes continues to play an important role in destigmatizing mental illness and advancing mental health care. He is also well known for his decades of leadership with Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He led Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons for a decade and from 2000 to 2011 was president of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. A prodigious fundraiser, he has helped raise some $3 billion for Columbia and New York-Presbyterian to date.
J. Barclay Collins II, chairman of United Hospital Fund's board of directors, served as Gala chairman.
“Tonight's honorees are extraordinary individuals and leaders,” said Jim Tallon, UHF president. “Whether guiding health care to better meet 21st-century needs, challenging medical colleagues and institutions to view ‘empathy' as an essential, or tackling the urgent need for increased organ donation awareness and registration, they bring different approaches to the task—but share a vision for better health and health care. All New Yorkers are benefitting from their efforts.”
United Hospital Fund is an independent organization working to build a more effective health care system for every New Yorker.