Perhaps his highest-profile board membership is with the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April 1968. Shorb, 62, chairs the museum's comprehensive campaign, launched in 2009, which he insisted needed to set an ambitious goal of $40 million to help update the facility, says Beverly Robertson, the museum's president.
By early this summer, the museum had raised $25.5 million of the $28 million needed to renovate the Lorraine Motel and build an administrative facility, along with $2.1 million of the $12 million needed to create an endowment fund, Robertson says.
“Diversity is an important issue for all organizations, and embracing that diversity is critical,” Shorb says. “Part of embracing it is understanding our history.”
Shorb, one of 10 finalists for Modern Healthcare's 2013 Community Leadership Award, also lends his leadership to two organizations that promote general economic prosperity through business-government partnerships: the Tennessee Business Roundtable, which works to develop and implement policies that promote economic and business growth; and Memphis Tomorrow, an association of CEOs of the city's largest organizations.
In the latter role, Shorb has served as an executive committee member for seven years, chairman for two years, and led a formal partnership with Memphis' city and county mayors as co-convener of Memphis Fast Forward, a communitywide strategic plan and action initiative.
Those efforts are “all about getting back to quality of life, with the aspiration of improving everybody's overall prosperity,” Shorb says. “It is about advocacy for business and making the state a great place to do business in.”
Through another role with the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Shorb works to help grow business and jobs in the region's bioscience field. Shorb has overseen the development of Innova, a venture fund through Bioworks, as well as the construction and operation of 34,000 square feet of business incubator space.
“Though the initial seed capital helps these companies grow, the real driving force behind the startups' success is the resources and connections to potential customers provided by local business leaders like Gary,” says Steven Bares, the foundation's president and executive director.
“We have a medical device industry that's pretty robust,” Shorb says. “We're trying to continue to expand in that area.”
Ed Finkel is a freelance writer in Evanston, Ill. Reach him at [email protected]