“It was a technology that was not here at the time” in 1981, says Howard, 63.
Howard has been applying his judgment and business expertise for nearly two decades at three-hospital Beaumont Health System, Royal Oak, Mich., where he became a trustee in 1994 and a member of the board of directors a few years later. At Beaumont, the 27-member board of directors is the actual decisionmaking body, while the 60 trustees, who meet twice a year, advise the board. Howard has served as board chairman since January 2011.
“It helps to be a better leader, in his mind, if he has a really deep understanding of how the place works,” says Gene Michalski, Beaumont Health's president and CEO. “He frequently tours the hospital—sometimes accompanied and sometimes not.”
For his accomplishments—including helping to steer Beaumont through the Great Recession and for playing an integral role in merger talks with another not-for-profit system last year—Howard has been selected as the Trustee of the Year for a not-for-profit healthcare system.
In 2008, Howard recalls, Beaumont “had a lot of things in the pipeline that we were spending money on when the markets melted down and we didn't have access to cash. For the first time in our 50-year history, it caused us to sit back and come up with a significant game plan to figure out how to get through that era of no-access-to-cash.”
Beaumont had recently acquired Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe (formerly Bon Secours Hospital), and partnered with Oakland University to develop a new medical school. It also was in the midst of numerous construction projects, such as a new inpatient tower at its Troy hospital and emergency department at its Royal Oak hospital.