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Health Care Power 50 I-Z

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Johnson is dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick. Mycentraljersey.com noted earlier this year that no one has ever led two medical schools simultaneously, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. But that distinction might soon end: the schools are in the process of exploring a merger. “Both medical schools are deeply committed to their home communities in Newark, New Brunswick, and the greater Essex and Middlesex County areas,” Johnson told Mycentraljersey. “That commitment will remain no matter the outcome of the proposed merger.” Johnson is also professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. In his research, he focuses on adolescent physical and mental health, adolescent HIV, adolescent violence, adolescent sexuality, health equity and family strengthening.

Devra Karlebach

Devra Karlebach, CEO of Green Thumb Industries

Karlebach was able to do something that heads of five other organizations picked to serve the medical cannabis patient population in 2018 weren’t able to: get her dispensary’s doors open first. Rise Dispensary opened in Paterson in December, almost a year to the day that the New Jersey arm of Green Thumb Industries was granted a permit to do so. It wasn’t an easy feat as a variety of hiccups delayed the opening. “Welcome to New Jersey,” Karlebach said to NJBIZ on opening day. “We unfortunately had an EPA issue at one of our buildings, so we wound up switching locations.” But three months after opening, business is going strong: Karlebach’s outfit serves medical cannabis, with a variety of flower and vape options.

Scott Kobler

Scott Kobler

Scott Kobler has been an integral part of New Jersey’s health care M&A world for more than three decades. “He’s the Obi Wan Kenobe of health care deals,” said a person in the know. “He’s the one everyone goes to when the question isn’t easily solved.” New Jersey health care M&A activity and the development of hospitals and other health care facilities goes through Kobler. A partner at McCarter & English in Newark, he’s had his hands in some of the state’s most complex health care transactions.

Douglas Klinger

Douglas Klinger

Klinger is the CEO of Zelis Healthcare, which provides cost management and payment solutions to health care payers and providers, and has ranked among the fastest-growing enterprises in New Jersey for several years – topping the 2017 NJBIZ Fast 50 list and placing fourth in 2018. Built through a series of acquisitions and backed by Parthenon Capital Partners, Zelis is poised to continue its trajectory. Most recently, the company completed a merger with RedCard Systems, creating an entity serving more than 700 payers and 600,000 providers.

Jeffrey LeBenger

Jeffrey LeBenger

Le Benger, chief executive officer of Summit CityMD, is viewed by his peers as a leader in physician group practice management, value-based care and population health management. Le Benger played a major role in the merger between Summit Medical Group and CityMD. He helped turn Summit CityMD into one of the nation’s premier physician-governed multispecialty medical groups. The first integrated delivery of care network of its kind, the combined organization has more than 1,600 providers, 6,400 employees and 200 locations in New Jersey and New York. Summit CityMD handles more than 4.6 million patient visits annually, with a vision to provide patients an exceptional, seamless experience across a full spectrum of high-quality primary, specialty, and urgent care.

Marc Levine

Mark Levine

Levine, a Mercer County orthopedic surgeon, serves as head of the Medical Society of New Jersey, the largest organization of physicians in the state. The group serves as an advocate on behalf of thousands of doctors in New Jersey in debates over health policies, legislative and regulatory matters, health care quality improvement and public health matters. Outside of the MSNJ, Levine holds the post of president of the Eastern Orthopaedic Association and director of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital/Hamilton’s Spine Surgery Program. Levine and the society’s president, Lawrence Downs, have given critical input for a variety of health care issues and how they would play out in the public and private sectors.

Paul Marden

Paul Marden

Paul Marden is chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare, New Jersey, owning the P&L for all commercial products with a focus on sustainable growth in the New Jersey market. He oversees UnitedHealthcare’s reputation in the community, as well as his team’s relationships with customers, brokers, regulatory and legislative bodies. He serves as a board member for the NJ Chamber of Commerce, the Commerce & Industry Association of New Jersey as well as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark. Marden is a regular speaker on health care, business leadership and health insurance.

Michael Maron

Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Hospital.

Michael Maron is president and chief executive officer of Holy Name Medical Center. He joined Holy Name in 1987 as vice president and chief financial officer and was promoted to senior vice president in 1991. In January 1997, he was appointed president and chief executive officer. Maron is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the board of the New Jersey Hospital Association, the St. George University Advisory Board, and the board of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey and its Healthcare Steering Committee. He is a member of the Sponsor Council for Christian Brothers North America, overseeing Bergen Catholic High School. He is also a member of the CRUDEM Foundation board of directors, which, under his guidance, oversees and funds the day-to-day operations of Hôpital Sacré Coeur, the largest hospital in northern Haiti.

Scott McBride

Scott McBrideWith a specialty in white collar criminal defense and a reputation as an expert in health care fraud, pharmaceutical and medical device companies call McBride to represent them in internal investigations, Department of Justice investigations and legal disputes in New Jersey and elsewhere. “On the federal level, Scott is among the most experienced health care fraud lawyers around,” said one insider. “He’s practical, smart, tough and good natured all at the same time. Plus he remains very close to his former colleagues in the United States’ Attorney’s Office including as co-chair of its very popular alumni program.” Before joining the private sector, McBride spent more than a decade in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, where he served as deputy chief of the economic crimes unit and as a member of the health care and government fraud unit.

Audrey Meyers

Valley Health System CEO Audrey Meyers.

Meyers joined Valley Hospital in 1980 and was named president and CEO in 1999 and assumed that role for Valley Health System in 2003. She is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the state. In addition to breaking ground on a new hospital campus in Paramus to be completed by 2023, in 2019 Meyers also oversaw the opening of Women’s & Children’s Primary Care Center in Montvale; the launch of a new service, Dispatch Health, which brings urgent care to a patient’s home and the opening of a new Wellness and Walk-In Care Center in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus. Her career accomplishments include strategic affiliations with the Mount Sinai Health System and the Cleveland Clinic.

Tammy Murphy

First Lady Tammy Murphy.

Many first ladies have made it a tradition to champion their own causes during the four or eight years that they hold that post. Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, is no exception. Since assuming the role of first lady in January 2018, Murphy has used her public stature to focus on issues of women’s and maternal health, infant mortality affecting communities of color, environmental justice and climate change. In January 2018 at a Women’s March in Morristown, Murphy emerged as a central figure in the New Jersey #MeToo movement against sexual harassment when she went public with her story of being sexually assaulted while a sophomore at the University of Virginia. Given her prominence, Murphy can be a strong advocate on the issues where she has focused her efforts.

Kevin O’Dowd


Kevin O'Dowd

After spending two years as chief of staff for Gov. Chris Christie, O’Dowd took on a variety of high-level executive positions in Cooper University Health Care. He took on the role as Cooper’s co-president and chief executive officer in 2018, for a hospital with operating revenues topping $1.3 billion and over 30,000 patients admitted a year. O’Dowd was part of Christie’s inner circle, having previously been hired by then-U.S. Attorney Christie as a federal prosecutor. Kevin’s wife, Mary O’Dowd, served as the health commissioner under Christie, and now holds a number of high level health care positions in the state. She is a board member for University Hospital in Newark and executive director for Health Systems and Population Health Integration at Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. Together, the pair constitutes a health care power couple.

Dean Paranicas

Dean J. Paranicas, CEO of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey.

As the third president and chief executive officer of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, Paranicas oversees the trade association for the research-based biopharmaceutical and medical technology industry. HINJ serves as a unified voice for New Jersey’s life sciences industry and seeks to build awareness of this industry’s impact on New Jersey’s quality of life and economic well-being. As an advocate, Paranicas is active in the debate over controlling the cost of prescription drugs, including a bill sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone. “Measures like this would have an adverse impact on the ability of pharmaceutical companies to innovate, and would mean patients have less access to medical advances,” Paranicas told NJBIZ. Before joining HINJ, Paranicas was vice president, corporate secretary and public policy at Becton Dickinson.

Donald Parker

Donald Parker, CEO, Carrier Clinic.

Parker is president and chief hospital executive of Hackensack Meridian Health Carrier Clinic and president of Hackensack Meridian Health Behavioral Health Care Transformation Services/Integrative Medicine. When Carrier Clinic, the largest nonprofit behavioral health system in New Jersey, merged with Hackensack Meridian Health, Parker said the merger would “create exceptional, comprehensive care at a time of great need for expanded, enhanced, and innovative behavioral health services.” HMH has since launched the country’s first-ever medically integrated urgent care center with behavioral health services. Parker is a member of multiple boards, including The National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, New Jersey Hospital Association, the Somerset County Business Partnership, and the Atlantic Cape Community College board of trustees.

Steve Rusckowski

Quest Diagnostics Chairman, President and CEO Steve Rusckowski leads the ceremony at the ON3 Campus in Clifton.

As chairman, CEO and president of Quest Diagnostics, the world’s largest provider of diagnostic information services, Rusckowski will attempt to create partnerships and opportunities in a dynamic health care environment. Before leading Quest, a Secaucus-based company with $7.7 billion annual revenues in 2019, Rusckowski was CEO of Philips Healthcare, the largest unit of Royal Philips Electronics. During his time with Philips, revenues increased from approximately 6 billion euros in 2005 to approximately 9 billion euros in 2011, accounting for approximately 39 percent of Philips consolidated revenues, from 21 percent when he became CEO. Before joining Philips, Rusckowski held numerous management positions with the health care division of Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies. He joined Philips when it acquired Agilent’s Healthcare Solutions Group in 2001.

Wardell Sanders

Ward SandersIn his lead role with the New Jersey Association of Health Plans, the trade group representing the state’s health insurers, Sanders has established himself the go-to expert on health care policy. He’s been a frequent speaker at regional and national events. In the decades before joining the NJAHP, Sanders climbed the ladder within the regulatory side of the health insurance market, including his roles as executive director of the New Jersey Individual Health Coverage Program Board and the New Jersey Small Employer Health Benefits Program Board. The two state agencies oversee the individual and small group health benefits markets in the state, which all told cover roughly 1 million New Jersey residents. He then rose to Deputy Attorney General at the state’s Division of Law, and during his time at the NJAPH was tapped by former-Gov. Jon Corzine to sit on a variety of health benefits study commissions.

Kevin Slavin

Kevin Slavin president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph’s Health.

Slavin serves as president and chief executive officer at St. Joseph’s Health, an integrated multi-hospital major academic health care system based in Paterson. He is responsible for the overall strategic, clinical, academic and operational functions of St. Joseph’s Health, which encompasses St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, Visiting Health Services of NJ and numerous ambulatory and physician sites throughout northern North Jersey. Under Slavin’s guidance, St. Joseph’s University Medical Center was the first in the United States to launch an Alternatives to Opioids Program (ALTO), a successful and unique approach to acute pain management without the use of opioids. The Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in Emergency Departments Act (based on the St. Joseph’s program) was signed into law in October of 2018, expanding its use to hospitals across the nation. Slavin is the 2020 chairman of the New Jersey Hospital Association Board of Trustees, a Member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a Trustee and Past Chairman of the Hospital Alliance of New Jersey (2005-present), inaugural Chair of the Healthcare Coalition of Passaic County and has held a variety of legislative appointments to health care boards, commissions and task forces.

Brian Strom

Brian Strom

Strom is the first chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and the executive vice president for Health Affairs at the university. During his six years at Rutgers, Strom has spearheaded the creation of an interprofessional faculty practice group, the Rutgers Health Group; established a formal partnership with RWJBarnabas Health to create New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive academic health system; and headed a major recruitment drive to bring biomedical researchers and clinicians to Rutgers. In the past year under his direction, research awards for Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, which includes Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and other schools, jumped from $296.5 million to $390.8 million, or 31.8 percent, from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019. In addition, Rutgers received a $29 million award and joined the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program – the first time New Jersey has received this funding, which will expand clinical trials, develop new treatments and therapies, and attract a new scientific workforce to the state. Before joining the university, Strom was the executive vice dean of institutional affairs, founding chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, founding director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and founding director of the Graduate Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

Marco Taglietti

Marco Taglietti, CEO and president, Scynexis Inc.

Taglietti is the president and chief executive officer of Scynexis Inc. as well as a member of its board. In 2015, Taglietti moved the company to Jersey City from North Carolina, choosing the Hudson County location over New York and Boston. “New Jersey is in a very strategic position where you can connect with the workforce, investors and the rest of the world,” Taglietti told NJBIZ last year. “In our decision process, we evaluated many strategic, operational and logistics factors. Overall, New Jersey compared favorably to other locations and, when we considered the financial incentives offered by the state, the decision of moving to New Jersey was the most rational for us.” Taglietti previously served as executive vice president for research and development and chief medical officer of Forest Laboratories Inc. and as president of the Forest Research Institute until its acquisition by Actavis in 2014. Over the course of his career, he has brought to market 35 different products in the U.S. and internationally. Taglietti currently serves as a director of BioNJ and Delcath Systems Inc.

Michael Tardugno

Michael Tardugno

In 2011 Tardugno, who is president and CEO of Celsion Corp., relocated the biopharmaceutical company to Lawrenceville from Maryland. “Maryland has a great seasonal climate, a reasonable business climate, and well-educated, hard-working population,” Tardugnon explained. “But it did not have the kind of resources necessary for a startup company in this very sophisticated rigorous business of clinical development.” Tardugnon was looking to develop and commercialize life-saving chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents where he could recruit the best talent. With 40 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, Tardugno’s career has been devoted to health care. Before joining Celsion, he held senior executive positions with Mylan Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bausch & Lomb and Abbott Laboratories.

Deborah Visconi

Deborah Visconi, president and CEO, Bergen New Bridge Medical Center.

As president and chief executive officer of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, Visconi expanded its payor mix resulting in first-time contracts with managed care companies, including Horizon BCBSNJ, allowing access to health care for 99.91 percent of Bergen County residents regardless of insurance. Bergen New Bridge became a preferred provider in the Veterans Community Care Program with her support. Visconi’s leadership has resulted in expanded programs, services, and enhanced provider relations including the addition of physicians from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, yielding improvement in quality, safety, and the patient/resident experience. She pioneered technology initiatives that led Bergen New Bridge to be the first hospital in the state to connect to the New Jersey Health Information Network (NJHIN) and, in January 2019, to join Collective Medical Network, a statewide effort to combat the opioid epidemic.

Dennis Wilson

Dennis Wilson

Wilson took over the top spot at Parsippany-based Delta Dental of New Jersey – the state’s largest dental insurer, covering 1.6 million people – in 2013 after a stint as Mid-Atlantic regional president for national managed care organization Coventry Health Care/Aetna. In January, he became chairman of DeltaUSA, the subsidiary of Delta Dental Plans Association that enables Delta Dental to centrally administer national or multistate insurance programs. Last fall, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce named him its Business Advocate of the Year. “Dennis leads by example and often takes extra steps to bolster the N.J. Chamber’s programs, initiatives and events,” the organization said in bestowing the award. Wilson served as president of Lovelace Health Plan in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s top health plan during his tenure from 2007 to 2010 and improved its national ranking. Wilson served as a market segment president at Cigna Healthcare in Connecticut from 2004 to 2007 and held top executive positions at Partners in Care Corp. in Somerset, Healthnet/Foundation Health Systems in Neptune and Shelton, and Connand Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia.

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