Percy Allen II always tried to honor those who propelled his career in healthcare by encouraging young administrators.
Allen, a longtime healthcare executive known for building morale at financially troubled healthcare organizations, spent much of his time in recent years taking calls from emerging leaders seeking his advice, his wife Fay Allen said.
"He advocated for people of color to be part of this diverse world and for them to be a part of this corporate system," Fay Allen said. "They all learned from Percy's example and emulated some of his ideas and thoughts about equality at the corporate level for people of color."
Percy Allen passed away Sunday at 80 years old. He is survived by his wife; his children, Merrily and Percy III; his grandchildren, Narissa, Tiffany Littlejohn, Janice, Percy IV and Nelson ; and his siblings, Invee Burrell and Yolanda Allen.
"I always encouraged young administrators. I've trained and mentored so many people; I've touched them, and they've touched me," Percy Allen II said in 2011, the year he was inducted into the Modern Healthcare Hall of Fame.
"I've tried to be a role model, to lead by example. My success has been because I've had the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of others who went before me. They opened the doors and made the path clear,," Allen said at the time.
Allen passed along the importance of cultivating the next generation of healthcare executives and increasing diversity among leaders of the field, Fay Allen said. He mentored former CommonSpirit Health CEO Kevin Lofton and late Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson, she said.
David Ridderheim, former CEO of Parkview Memorial Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana, helped Allen get his start. At a time when most Black administrators were going into public hospitals, Ridderheim took a chance in hiring Allen to help run a hospital that probably had fewer than 10% Black patients. Allen also served as board chair of the Fort Wayne Urban League and participated in other civic activities.
Allen's held leadership roles at several health systems around the country during his career. He was assistant administrator at Parkview, interim CEO at Sinai Hospital in Detroit, chief executive officer of North Central Bronx hospital in New York, CEO of University of Brooklyn SUNY Health Science Center in New York and chief executive of Bon Secours Health System in Baltimore.
Allen's coworkers described him as a friendly, warm and unassuming man who quickly forged strong bonds and relationships, they said in a Modern Healthcare profile published in 2011.
Allen was known for turning around failing hospitals by investing in long-delayed capital improvements. He helped instill a culture of customer and employee satisfaction by sprucing up workplaces with new artwork and thoughtful landscape architecture. He also established a high school health center in Brooklyn, New York, and refurbished community housing units in Baltimore, among other community projects.