For Elliott Roberts Sr., the privileges of leadership have always included the responsibilities of giving back, teaching and sharing what he's learned with new generations of leaders.
"Elliott Roberts has done more mentoring than just about any other hospital executive in the field," observes American Hospital Association President Richard Davidson, who calls Roberts "that rare combination of a remarkable man and a gentle person."
"And when he retired from his leadership position, he became a teacher and helped to advance the careers of many minority healthcare executives."
Roberts, 74, one of the co-founders and a past chairman of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management and the only person to have served two full terms on the AHA board, has left indelible imprints on the hospital industry. He was inducted into the Health Care Hall of Fame in 1998.
Roberts began his healthcare career in 1953 as an accountant at Provident Hospital in New Orleans. From there he served as chief executive officer at medical centers such as Detroit General Hospital, Harlem Hospital in New York and Cook County Hospital in Chicago before retiring in 1994 as CEO at Charity Hospital in New Orleans.
In 1994, Roberts co-founded the Institute for Diversity and continues to hold a board position there. He says the institute bridges the leadership gap in healthcare and recognizes that there has been a void in minority upper management in healthcare.
"Minorities represent 20% of the workforce but less than 1% of the management," he says. "We need to seek out young leaders in healthcare who can fill that void and bridge that gap."