Paying it Forward: Continuing the Tradition of Leadership
As the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Hartford HealthCare (HHC), alumnus Jeffrey A. Flaks, MHSA ‘96, oversees the Connecticut-based integrated health care system’s more than 18,000 employees and $2.4 billion in net revenue. Throughout his nearly 20-year career, Flaks has been recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the top 12 industry leaders in the nation, named one of the 50 most influential people in Connecticut by Hartford Magazine and honored on Crain’s New York Business’ “New York’s Rising Stars: 40 under 40” list. When reflecting on his career, Flaks credits the experiences, opportunities and faculty at Milken Institute SPH for their role in shaping him into the leader he is today.
Flaks was enrolled in the Master of Health Services Administration program for only two weeks when then Department Chair Richard Southby offered students ten tickets to hear Hillary Clinton speak about national healthcare reform on campus. Flaks jumped at the opportunity. After the talk, Flaks introduced himself to Clinton and expressed his passion for healthcare reform and asked how he could get involved. Clinton connected him with a contact at the White House, which led to a volunteer internship at the White House from 1994-1995 where he worked on the health care reform initiative under the direction of the Executive Office.
“That type of experience can only happen at GW because you have a faculty that facilitates and encourages you to engage and seek opportunities,” Flaks says. “I have been heavily influenced by the faculty at the school, especially Dr. Kurt J. Darr who has been a constant factor in my career development over the years. Dr. Southby was also extremely influential to my campus experience and my service to the university nearly two decades later.” Over his forty years of service at GW, Dr. Darr has inspired and provided guidance to Flaks and countless other students.
Flaks remains actively engaged with the GW community, having served on the Board of Trustees and the Milken Institute SPH Dean’s Council as well as director of the GW Alumni Association. He is also a loyal financial donor. It might be argued that Flaks’ most generous contribution however, is his work with recent GW graduates. Each year, Flaks brings on a former Colonial for a one-year administrative fellowship position where they have the opportunity to train under him and learn the full depth of the healthcare delivery system.
“I did a similar program under an alumnus in Detroit in 1995, so I’ve seen first-hand the wonderful tradition at GW around the training and development of future leaders,” Flaks says. “I consider it a personal privilege to do for others what was done for me and continue the tradition of training the leaders of tomorrow.”