2020 Honorees

Laura Forese, MD, MPH

Laura Forese, MD, MPH, is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian, one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic healthcare systems. The only hospital in the country affiliated with two top-ranked medical schools, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is recognized as the #4 hospital in the nation and the #1 hospital in New York by U.S. News and World Report, as well as a best place to work by Forbes, Fortune, and Glassdoor.

Dr. Forese has ultimate operational responsibility for the NewYork-Presbyterian enterprise, including 10 hospital campuses, 200 primary and specialty care clinics and medical groups, more than 47,000 employees and affiliated physicians, and more than $8 billion in revenue.

Under her leadership, NewYork-Presbyterian launched an innovative suite of digital health services called NYP OnDemand, implemented groundbreaking employee programs for paid parental leave and respite care, and achieved significant gains in patient satisfaction scores as well as employee engagement and front-line empowerment by focusing on building a culture of respect. As President of the NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network, Dr. Forese expanded the organization’s presence in Westchester County, Queens and Brooklyn, bringing high-quality community hospitals into the network, and she established the NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Groups to expand NewYork-Presbyterian’s primary and specialty care throughout the region. Among Dr. Forese’s top priorities and accomplishments is the regionalization and standardization of financial, operational, and clinical practices across the enterprise so that every patient receives the same exceptional standard of care no matter where they go in the NewYork-Presbyterian system.

Active in multiple healthcare and civic organizations, Dr. Forese chairs the hospital board of the NIH Clinical Center; she is also a Trustee of Princeton University, a board member of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and LiveOnNY, and serves as a director of Cantel Medical.  She has been named among the 50 most powerful women in New York by Crain’s Business, the top 25 COOs in Healthcare and 50 most influential physician executives by Modern Healthcare magazine and has been honored as Mother of the Year by the American Cancer Society.

An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Forese graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University and Alpha Omega Alpha from Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons, and she holds a management degree from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD

Philip O. Ozuah, MD, PhD, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore Medicine, the umbrella organization for Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. A nationally recognized physician, leader, executive, researcher, teacher and author, Dr. Ozuah previously served as President of Montefiore Health System. A National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded researcher and award-winning educator, he also served as Professor and University Chairman of Pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM).

In these roles, Dr. Ozuah expanded access for underserved communities, recruited and cultivated outstanding talent, advanced programs of excellence, fostered innovations in medical education, and improved financial and operational performance by integrating care across a rapidly growing and evolving Montefiore system that sees over six million patient interactions a year. Under his leadership, Montefiore Health System’s specialties ranked in the top 1 percent of the nation’s hospitals, and CHAM was recognized as one of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals” according to U.S. News & World Report.

Dr. Ozuah has been recognized locally and nationally for excellence in teaching and patient care, including as an inductee into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and a two-time recipient of the Academic Pediatric Association’s prestigious Helfer Award for Innovation in Medical Education. Along with his various awards for teaching and clinical excellence, Dr. Ozuah has also been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the “Top 25 COOs in Healthcare.”

Dr. Ozuah earned his medical degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Southern California and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He completed his Pediatric Internship and Residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore, and his Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Medical Education at the University of Southern California School of Medicine.

2020 Host

Cheryl Wills

Cheryl Wills is an Emmy award-winning television personality for  Spectrum  News’  flagship national  news  network, New York 1 News, headquartered in New York City. Cheryl Wills has been with  NY1  News  since  its  launch  in 1992 and is one of the station’s most recognizable journalists for breaking news and special coverage. Cheryl is the only  journalist  in  the   network’s  25+  year  history  to  conduct  a  sit-down  interview  with  The  Secretary  General  of The United Nations: His Excellency Ban Ki-moon. She has also interviewed a sitting President:  Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson  Sirleaf  of  Liberia.  Cheryl’s  groundbreaking  interviews earned her a prestigious Medal of Excellence from The United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA).

Cheryl  is  the  acclaimed  author  of  four  books  about  her family’s legacy during The Civil  War: Die Free (2010), The Emancipation of Grandpa Sandy Wills (2015), Emancipated:  My  Family’s Fight  for  Freedom  (2017),  EMMA  (2020) and  Isn’t  Her  Grace  Amazing:  25  Women  Who Changed Gospel (2021-Harper Collins).

On March 25, 2011, Cheryl Wills made history as the first journalist invited to speak at the United Nations General Assembly Hall for The International Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade where she read passages from her book, Die Free which was broadcast live around the world on UNTV.   Additionally, Cheryl has also touched the lives of tens of  thousands of students across  the  country  by  reminding  them  about  the  importance of  honoring family legacies.

Cheryl is most proud to be the Commander and Lifetime Descendant Member of the New York Chapter of the Sons and  Daughters  of  the  United  States  Colored  Troops  –  a national organization of Civil War descendants who  raise awareness about black soldiers who served during The Civil War. She is a graduate of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.