As a child, Gayle Capozzalo moved at regular intervals because of her father's career in the Navy. All that relocating from base to base made her adept at forming relationships, teaching her to forge trust when she'd only just met new friends.
“Time was limited and you had to build relationships quickly,” Capozzalo said.
That belief in trust has been key to what friends and colleagues say is an open and collaborative working style that has helped propel Capozzalo to successful leadership roles at Connecticut's largest hospital system and the American College of Healthcare Executives.
“Trust is the fundamental value for creating organizations that can get things done,” said Capozzalo, executive vice president of strategy and system development at Yale New Haven Health for the past 20 years. That means “following through on what you say you're going to do, and listening rather than always talking,” she said.
Prior to joining Yale New Haven, Capozzalo was senior vice president of organizational development for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate World Health Care System in Houston. Her previous roles include senior vice president at SSM Health Care in St. Louis and principal at the Health Studies Institute in Columbia, Mo.
For her achievements throughout her career, the ACHE has awarded Capozzalo its highest honor, the Gold Medal Award.
Capozzalo, who was ACHE chair from 2012 to 2013, also was instrumental in developing a women's network within the association. “It's one of the things I'm really proud of, and it's made ACHE much more diverse,” Capozzalo said.
Life in a Navy family also may have spurred an interest in diversity, with stints living in England, Turkey and the Philippines. She believes diversity is essential to strong organizations.
“There's a lot of work out there that shows the more diverse the team, the more productive,” she said. “That's the way you bring a different way of thinking to a constantly changing environment.”
Capozzalo also values a diversity of ideas and is a listener, said Simone Joyaux, who chairs the board of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, where Capozzalo is vice chair.
“Sometimes when people have very big jobs, they are not very accessible,” Joyaux said. “But she is.”
The trust goes both ways, adds William Jennings, executive vice president at Yale New Haven and CEO of its Bridgeport (Conn.) Hospital.
“She tells the truth and doesn't withhold information for power,” Jennings said. “She is completely transparent, and that engenders trust.”