Health Care Hall of Fame Past Inductees
Inducted in 2014
Yoshi Honkawa is, in his own words, a people person. Though it might seem an inadequate description for someone who is renowned in the healthcare administration and policy arenas, the label is nonetheless fitting for the 90-year-old leader. During his 50-year career, he has met and earned the respect, admiration and friendship of a who's-who list of healthcare and political decisionmakers and thought leaders across the country.“He's the master of developing relationships,” said Thomas Priselac, longtime president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System in Los Angeles. Priselac experienced that firsthand when he joined Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 1979 as an assistant administrator. Honkawa had joined the organization four years before when he was named its director of finance. Honkawa's wide network of relationships, developed during previous leadership positions with the Los Angeles County Department of Hospitals, proved key to securing the financing needed to consolidate two campuses. The project set Cedars-Sinai on the trajectory to become the institution it is today. Honkawa was later promoted to VP of government and industry relations, a post he held from 1978 to 2001.His long career includes service on the State of California Advisory Health Council. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan appointed him as the panel's first chairman. He also was appointed to and later chaired the National Council on Health Planning and Development under President Jimmy Carter, an advisory body on national health policies.Honkawa credits his parents with giving him the work ethic and values on which his career has been built. The son of Japanese immigrants, he was raised in Billings, Mont. He recalls skipping his first year of school after listening to his mother teach his older siblings numbers and the alphabet every morning, when she herself spoke limited English upon arriving in the U.S. His mother also dressed him up for school every morning, insisting that he wear a bowtie. “It was a lesson in pride and how you want people to perceive you,” Honkawa said. At the restaurant the family owned, Honkawa helped alongside his parents and three older siblings. He watched his father, who spent 15 hours a day working in the restaurant, develop relationships with suppliers, customers and employees. Honkawa said those interactions and his father's dedication to his work taught him early lessons about honesty, integrity, loyalty and strength of character.