2019 Elite Leadership IMPACT Award Recipient – Chris Van Gorder

We are very excited to present our inaugural Elite Leadership IMPACT Award to Chris Van Gorder, President and CEO of Scripps Health. He has been regularly recognized for his leadership across all industries, not just in healthcare. His impact can be observed in the culture he has created at Scripps. From the parking lot attendants to the healthcare providers, they are all focused on the mission to provide the best care for their patients and families.

Chris has a very interesting leadership origin story. A long time ago, while he was working as a security guard at a hospital, he saw the CEO walking in his direction. He stood up straight and got ready to shake the man’s hand and say hello, but the CEO walked right past him like he wasn’t even there. Chris decided that if he ever rose to a leadership position, he would treat his people differently and he has lived up to that promise.

Chris has always worked to be front-line leader – one who never forgets the most important people and work.  In healthcare, the people who touch, talk to, schedule and directly interface with the patients are the most important people and as a leader, his leadership vision is to support the front-line mission every day.  He meets with all new employees and tells them that regardless of their job titles, they are in the patient caring business.  For people who do not directly care for patients, he tells them to find a way – every day – to support those who are delivering the direct patient care.

The innate leadership qualities of humility, empathy, vision and risk-taking are deeply embedded in Chris. He uses these “leadership superpowers” along with his mastery of many leadership tools to chart is own leadership journey. His social leadership abilities are exceptional for any leader.

No matter which approach you take to leadership,
it’s important to be authentic to who you are.
– Chris Van Gorder
{From the Foreward to Prescribing Leadership in Healthcare}

He keeps regular reflection notes to look back on as a learning exercise. Each day when he prepares to leave work, he pauses to reflect on a simple question, ” Would our founders – Ellen Browning Scripps and Mother Mary Michael Cummings be proud of what I did today?”

Chris has had a number of mentors over the years and doesn’t hesitate to mentor others as needed. He answers every email he receives and is continuously seeking new information on healthcare and leadership. Every morning, he personally curates the top news stories in healthcare, leadership and other pertinent areas to share with his management team as another way to practice his leadership every day.

Not only is Chris a great leader while at Scripps, he is also a volunteer EMT and volunteer Sheriff on the weekends. He is truly a superhero! He even used his EMT training to help someone in distress during a recent flight he was on. Read the articles and watch the videos below to see how special of a leader Chris is. Thanks Chris for your continued dedication to the practice of leadership.


As president and CEO of Scripps Health since 2000, Chris Van Gorder has been instrumental in positioning Scripps among the nation’s foremost health care institutions. Now he is leading the restructure of the $3.1 billion, integrated health system to best prepare for the changes of health care reform.

At Scripps Health, Van Gorder oversees all functions of the integrated health system. More than 15,000 employees and 3,000 affiliated physicians provide care at Scripps, which has made the Fortune magazine “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 10 consecutive years. On the quality front, Scripps has been named to both the U.S. News Best Hospitals list and the Truven Health Analytics 100 Top Hospitals list for several years running. [READ MORE]


Scripps La Jolla Named Among Top 100 Hospitals in the U.S., Scripps, March 2019

U.S. News Ranks Scripps Hospitals No. 1 in San Diego Region, Scripps, July 2019

Scripps Health Named Among Most Wired Health Systems, Scripps, September 2019

Fortune The 100 Best Workplaces for Diversity, Fortune, November 2019


Breaking Bias: Women in Leadership are Part of Scripps Health’s Heritage, Modern Healthcare, March 2019

Scripps Health Supports California Bill to Fight Hospital Violence, Modern Healthcare, March 2019


Van Gorder Goes into EMT Mode During Inflight Emergency, Modern Healthcare, March 2019

Scripps First to Use New Liver Transport System in San Diego County, Scripps, July 2019

Scripps Health Launches Region’s First Specialty Critical Care Transportation Team for Adult Patients, Scripps, August 2019