United Hospital Fund's Record-Breaking Gala Pays Tribute to Exceptional New York Health Care Leaders
From left: J. Barclay Collins II, chairman of the Fund; James and Merryl Tisch, recipients of the Health Care Leadership Award; Roger Ferguson, president of TIAA-CREF; Lee Perlman, recipient of a Special Tribute; Jackie Harris Hochberg, chairman of the board of HOPE, who accepted the Distinguished Community Service Award on behalf of her father, J. Ira Harris; and Jim Tallon, president of the Fund.
The United Hospital Fund has honored James and Merryl Tisch, longtime health care leaders in New York; J. Ira Harris, founder of the Harris Obesity Prevention Effort (HOPE) at the NYU Langone Medical Center; and Lee H. Perlman, president of GNYHA Ventures, Inc., for their respective contributions to improving health care in New York. The awards were presented at the United Hospital Fund’s annual gala, held on Monday, October 5, 2009, at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Drawing a record crowd of more than 900, the event marks the opening of the Fund’s 131st fundraising campaign to support the Fund’s work to shape positive change in health care in New York.
James and Merryl Tisch received the Fund’s Health Care Leadership Award for their commitment to a 21st-century health care system that achieves breakthroughs in clinical science and patient care and ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the highest-quality services. Both in the prime of their careers—he, as president and chief executive officer of Loews Corporation, and she, as the first female chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents—the Tisches are dedicating enormous time and resources to organizations that affect the health and lives of everyday New Yorkers.
They share a vision of a health care system that strives for excellence while also paying special attention to underserved communities. The Tisches are strong and longtime supporters of academic medicine and its ability to translate discoveries in the laboratory into state-of-the-art patient care. From their establishment of The Tisch Cancer Institute, a comprehensive care and research facility at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, to their support of the family’s broad initiatives at NYU’s Tisch Hospital, to their leadership at social service agencies focused on helping people break the cycle of poverty, their efforts touch the lives of countless New Yorkers.
The Health Care Leadership Award was established by the United Hospital Fund in 1998 to recognize strong and sustained leadership aimed at improving health care in New York City. Previous recipients of the award include Anthony Watson, chairman and CEO of EmblemHealth, Inc.; Andrea Jung, chairman and chief executive officer of Avon Products; Martin D. Payson, chairman of Maimonides Medical Center; John K. Castle, chairman and CEO of Castle Harlan, Inc.; Mathilde Krim, PhD, founding chairman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR); John J. Mack, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley; Morton P. Hyman, principal of MPH Enterprises, LLC; William C. Steere, Jr., chairman emeritus of Pfizer Inc; Sanford I. Weill, chairman emeritus of Citigroup, Inc.; Jack Rudin and the late Lewis Rudin, co-chairmen of Rudin Management Company; and Maurice R. Greenberg, chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.
J. Ira Harris received the Fund’s Distinguished Community Service Award. The award recognizes Mr. Harris, an investment banker and financial adviser, for his leadership, with his wife, Nikki, in founding the Harris Obesity Prevention Effort (HOPE), a major initiative at the NYU Langone Medical Center to prevent childhood obesity. HOPE supports obesity prevention efforts through the development, evaluation, and dissemination of evidence-based programs for families and educators. It also helps provide medical treatment for morbidly obese adolescents. In Mr. Harris’s absence, the award was accepted by his daughter, Jackie Harris Hochberg, who is chairman of the board of HOPE, a trustee of NYU Langone Medical Center, and president of the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Foundation.
Established by the Fund in 1987, the Distinguished Community Service Award recognizes volunteer leadership of a specific project or initiative that improves health care in New York. For a fourth year, the Distinguished Community Service Award has been generously underwritten by TIAA-CREF, the leading provider of retirement services in the medical, academic, research, and cultural fields.
Lee Perlman, president of GNYHA Ventures, Inc., was recognized with a Special Tribute. Through his leadership of the business subsidiary of the Greater New York Hospital Association, he is a national expert on supply purchasing for hospitals and other providers. And as a longtime executive of the Association itself, he helps run one of the country’s most effective advocacy groups. He was singled out for his exceptional ability to connect and engage with people and to leverage his enormous network to improve health care and help others. A national leader in promoting diversity in the top levels of health care, a vocal proponent of organ donation (he serves on the board of the New York Organ Donor Network), and an advocate and catalyst for better health care for the homeless and otherwise needy New Yorkers, Mr. Perlman has been making a real difference for many years.
The benefit chairman was J. Barclay Collins II, executive vice president of Hess Corporation, who is also chairman of the United Hospital Fund.
“Today, we are recognizing four exceedingly worthy honorees, each with a unique story to tell,” said James R. Tallon, Jr., president of the United Hospital Fund. “What they have in common, though, is not just the dream, but the reality of having made profound improvements to New York’s health care system and having served the health care community. The United Hospital Fund is pleased to recognize James and Merryl Tisch, J. Ira Harris, and Lee Perlman—standards of health care leadership against which future leaders will be measured.”
The United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York.