“More and more, the focus of healthcare systems has to be on population health and the health status of the community, not just taking care of the sick,” Shorb said.
That approach includes acting as co-convener of Memphis Fast Forward—a strategic five-pronged agenda in public safety, education, government efficiency, quality of life and economic growth. The movement was born from Memphis Tomorrow, a group that includes Shorb and other CEOs from some of the largest organizations in the city. Both the umbrella organization and its affiliated programs have had a part in shaping solutions to the urban challenges the city has faced. Shorb has served on Memphis Tomorrow's executive committee for seven years, including two as chairman.
“Gary is very much viewed across the board as a dedicated and effective community leader, full of integrity and passion for seeing our great city progress,” said Blair Taylor, president of Memphis Tomorrow. “He exhibits the classic qualities of servant leadership—emphasizes listening to others, participative decisionmaking, empathy—and is clear and confident in his own values.”
One area Shorb clearly values is education. He chairs the PeopleFirst Partnership, Memphis Fast Forward's educational and workforce preparation component. Highlights of its five-year history include the acquisition of $7 million in federal workforce training grants, expansion of the pool of high-potential teacher candidates (from 21 in April 2010 to 1,800 the following year) and a 50% increase in the number of pre-kindergarten students in Memphis public schools. “It's been proven that if kids aren't ready for kindergarten, by the third grade they fall behind,” Shorb said. “And it's difficult to catch up.”