Healthcare Leadership Council Names New President & CEO and Chairman of the Board to Chart Future of Patient-Centered Advocacy

The association of leading health care executives has named Business Roundtable’s Maria Ghazal as President and CEO, and Johnson & Johnson’s Calvin W. Schmidt as 2024-2025 Chairman of the Board.

Washington, D.C., December 12, 2023 – Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), the leading health industry association representing all disciplines of American health care, is proud to announce the selection of Maria Ghazal as its next President and CEO. Taking over for Mary R. Grealy, who is retiring after 24 years at the helm, Ghazal joins HLC following nearly two decades at Business Roundtable, an association of America’s top CEOs, most recently as Senior Vice President and Counsel. HLC is also pleased to announce that Calvin W. Schmidt, a Senior Vice President at Johnson & Johnson, has been named Chairman of the Board for 2024-2025.

“We are thrilled to welcome Maria Ghazal as our next President and CEO,” said 2024-2025 HLC Board Chairman Calvin Schmidt. “Maria has a stellar record in public policy, legal affairs, advocacy and managing a CEO membership organization. Moreover, she has decades of experience in health care policy, including representing the voice of America’s leading CEOs during the debate over the Affordable Care Act. We face complex policy challenges such as rising health care costs and the safe adoption of AI technology, but we also have a unique opportunity to accomplish positive, enduring reform. I look forward to supporting Maria as she advances HLC’s unwavering dedication to the health and well-being of all Americans and builds on Mary Grealy’s robust legacy.”

Ghazal and Schmidt are taking the reins of HLC during a pivotal moment in American health care. They will begin their new roles at a time when health care innovation and access to affordable care services are facing serious challenges. Both executives bring decades of experience and expertise that will be critical to leading HLC as it drives consensus across health care sectors to develop actionable policies that improve care for all Americans.

“It is an honor to be chosen to lead the Healthcare Leadership Council,” said Ghazal. “This organization has a strong history of developing pragmatic reforms to ensure the U.S. health care system works for everyone. I am excited to work in partnership with Board Chair Calvin Schmidt and the entire membership to advance HLC’s vision of achieving a modern, effective health care system.”

A veteran association executive, Ghazal was selected following an extensive nationwide search that produced dozens of exceptional candidates. She joins HLC from Business Roundtable, where she led the organization’s public policy work and directed membership outreach, recruitment and retention, and legal affairs during the course of her career. Recently, she was the chief advocate on corporate governance issues and led the organization’s work on a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, which sparked a worldwide dialogue on the role of corporations in society.

Ghazal will be charged with developing and executing HLC’s strategic plan and policy vision. In her role, she will be a leading advocate for the association’s mission to improve the quality, efficiency and affordability of health care for all Americans through HLC’s patient-centered approach.

Among Ghazal’s other experience, she has served as the Director of Health Policy for the American Benefits Council and held public policy positions at Verizon and MetLife. She serves on the Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Quality Board and the Board of Advisors for the Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University, and she is a founding member of Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy Advisory Board. Ghazal is also a member of the Massachusetts and District of Columbia Bar Associations, Health on Wednesday, The Tax Coalition and Women Corporate Directors.

Schmidt also brings decades of health care expertise to the table as 2024-2025 HLC Chairman of the Board. Over the course of his long-running tenure at Johnson & Johnson, he has guided the company through critical milestones – including spearheading engagements with the White House and global heads of state during the COVID-19 pandemic and playing an instrumental role in guiding HLC’s policies on pandemic preparedness. During his time as President of Cardiovascular Metabolism (CVM) at Johnson & Johnson, Schmidt led a multi-disciplinary team that focused on continually driving positive impact for patients suffering from chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Schmidt’s commitment to improving health care goes beyond his day-to-day work at Johnson & Johnson. He serves on the Foundation Board of Overseers for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Foreign Policy Association Board of Directors. He is also a past Board of Directors member for both the Alliance for Aging Research and the American Diabetes Association.

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