Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Gerald Gallagher, 40
President, Evanston (Ill.) Hospital
Gerald "J.P.” Gallagher got started in hospitals early. He spent a summer during high school working in a physician billing office. Culling piles of rejected bills, he checked the accuracy of the ICD-9 code and addresses and so forth, marking a star, circle or triangle to keep track of errors he detected.
Not too many years later, in 2002, Gallagher stepped into his first executive-level position as vice president of operations at Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill., just as the hospital's parent was poised to deploy an electronic health-record system. By that point, Gallagher—now 40 and president of the four-campus system's flagship Evanston Hospital—had taken careful steps to prepare for the challenges in an industry moving rapidly beyond stars and circles.
Mark Neaman, president and CEO of NorthShore University HealthSystem (until 2008 called Evanston Northwestern Healthcare), says the foundation Gallagher built has contributed much to his rise. “Particularly with the changes going on in the healthcare field, those analytical skills—not just dollar signs, financial skills—become very important,” Neaman says.
After graduating from Princeton University, Gallagher completed the Coro Fellows Program, which offers leadership training in public affairs. He spent much of the nine-month program with the public health department in St. Louis, talking to drug addicts and prostitutes as the city faced a syphilis outbreak, then worked with SSM Health Care to land funding for child and family preventive services. “The valuable part of that experience was working in a hospital with an administrative team and committed physicians and nurses,” Gallagher says. “It was a field going through a lot of change, a field where I could contribute.” Next was a stint with the Lewin Group, a healthcare consulting group, which he thought of as an opportunity to learn from clients, most of them large academic medical centers, though the work itself was less than glamorous. “I was the data grunt doing the spreadsheets,” he says. Next he earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and he then diverged sharply from his classmates who jumped into high-paying Wall Street jobs. Gallagher took a one-year position as an administrative fellow with Advocate Health Care, Oak Brook, Ill., where he spent an additional two years gaining experience in operations and leadership. After two years as COO at NorthShore's Glenbrook Hospital Gallagher moved to Evanston Hospital, where he replaced longtime President Ray Grady in 2008. The system was shedding an 80-year academic affiliation with Northwestern University and forging a new one with the University of Chicago, an experience Gallagher says reinforced for the importance of candor and an ability to “understand which issues were critical and which ones, if you had the right partner, you could agree to figure out as you went along.”