New York, NY, December 5, 2014—Benjamin K. Chu, M.D., group president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals in Southern California and Georgia, has been elected chairman of The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation working toward a high performance health system. He has been a member of the Fund’s board since 2003.
Before joining the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in 2005, Chu was president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), senior associate dean at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (affiliated with Harlem Hospital), and vice president for clinical affairs and associate dean at New York University Medical Center. He takes office immediately, succeeding James R. Tallon, Jr., president of the United Hospital Fund of New York, who has served as chairman since 2007 and as a director since 1996.
“I am proud and delighted to turn the gavel over to Dr. Benjamin Chu,” said Tallon. “Ben’s experience as a clinician and a strategic leader in public and private health care delivery and administration will be an invaluable asset to The Commonwealth Fund.”
While serving as HHC’s senior vice president for medical and professional affairs, Chu also was acting commissioner of health for New York City and acting executive director for Kings County Hospital Center. He is the immediate past chair of The American Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees. As a 1989–90 Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow, he was legislative assistant for health for U.S. Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. Chu earned his medical degree from New York University, master’s degree in public health from Columbia University, and B.A. in psychology from Yale University.
Mark D. Smith, M.D., who joins The Commonwealth Fund board effective immediately, was the founding president and chief executive officer of the California HealthCare Foundation, where he served from 1996 to 2013. A board-certified internist, Smith is a member of the clinical faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, and an attending physician at the Positive Health Program for AIDS care at San Francisco General Hospital.
Prior to joining the California HealthCare Foundation, he was executive vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Smith also served as associate director of AIDS services and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University. He currently serves on the board of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), for which he chaired the committee on “The Learning Health Care System in America.” Smith previously served on the board of the National Business Group on Health, the Committee on Performance Measurement of the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the editorial board of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Smith received a B.A. in Afro-American studies from Harvard College and an M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar, he earned an M.B.A., with a concentration in health care administration, from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We are extremely fortunate that Ben Chu has agreed to lead our board during this time of health system transformation, and as we continue our work to enhance the health of our population and economic stability for families," said Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, M.D. “It is doubly gratifying that Dr. Mark Smith, with his experience addressing the health care needs of vulnerable populations, has also agreed to join the Fund. Given its continuing strength, the Commonwealth Fund board is well positioned to help the foundation’s staff continue its work to achieve quality, affordable health care for all Americans.”