I spend a lot of time thinking about leadership. Most likely because my roots are firmly planted in the Jewish faith and early religious school teachings were often on the recurring twin themes of Tikun Olum (our personal responsibility to heal the world) and Tzadakah (our responsibility to help those in need), my thoughts don't tend to be about the personal power sometimes derived from positions of leadership. They are more about my own personal responsibility to make a difference in this world and in the lives of the people in my life.

A few months ago, I was in Los Angeles for a film industry awards show at which Ron Howard was honored for his significant achievement as a director. The award was given to him by his longtime friend and collaborator, producer Brian Grazer. Grazer spoke of Howard's personal integrity and his leadership in the industry, remarking, “Being a leader isn't just about ability, it's about responsibility.” Grazer added that Howard never rested on the critical acclaim of his last success, because Howard knew that “the better it gets, the better it has to get.”

I've thought of these last few words often since then. Last year, The Center for Health Design experienced unprecedented growth and success. Our staff grew by 150%, and the portfolio of projects on our plate grew by even more. Our business grew by more than 70%. It's good to celebrate success, but as Grazer said, the only way to make a significant impact in our industry is to realize that the better it gets, the better it has to get. This concept spurs me on. This year, we expect to almost double our staff again to serve the industry better and launch new projects and products that will provide resources, education, and easily accessible research to the ever-growing scope of people and organizations The Center serves.

I'm sure it's not by coincidence that my career has led me to my position as president of The Center for Health Design—an organization dedicated to being on the forefront of issues relating to healthcare design, evidence-based design, and environmental design research. For the 17 years that I have been fortunate enough to be involved with this organization, I have watched as the ideals of The Center have coalesced a community, helped to build an industry, and pushed forward an agenda to advance the understanding of how the built physical environment can have an impact on financial and health outcomes in healthcare.

As an organization, The Center has always been about leadership, from the early days of the organization when our main focus was to produce the annual Symposium on Healthcare Design conference (until 1998) to the recent success of The Center's Environmental Standards Council's recommendations for additions to the AIA Guidelines for 2006 regarding the environment of care. From the now more than 40 healthcare organizations and product manufacturers using their resources to build a strong database of evidence-based design research, through the Pebble Project, to our partnerships with the Vendome Group to produce the annual HEALTHCARE DESIGN conference and bring this magazine to you now six times a year, The Center is about leadership.

We know that there is a great deal of confusion in the industry regarding one aspect of our business—the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 conference. For a long time, The Center was associated with the conference we founded—The Symposium on Healthcare Design—so it's hard not to associate the event with The Center's work. But The Center has not been involved in the Symposium for years and has not owned it since 1998.

The confusion may be greater this year because the Symposium's annual conference will be held just two weeks before our HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 conference and in the same city—Chicago.

So please remember, if your plan is to attend the annual conference associated with the ideals and history of The Center; if your plan is to attend the conference that had more than 1,750 attendees from all over the world when it was held in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2005; if your plan is to join together with your esteemed colleagues from healthcare, design, Architecture, and product manufacturing, then you want to attend the HEALTHCARE DESIGN.06 conference at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, November 4-7.

And if you continue to be confused by the marketing materials coming your way, just look for the brochures featuring the brightly colored butterflies that will highlight all of the unique breakaway opportunities at this year's conference, many of which might provide you with your own personal opportunities for leadership in our industry.

I'll leave you with this last quote from former president Bill Clinton when he spoke at Coretta Scott King's funeral. He said the question we all need to ask ourselves, the question she had to ask herself when picking up the pieces after her husband died, was “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?” If your answer has something to do with advancing this great industry we are in, I invite you to contact The Center for Health Design and join forces with other like-minded individuals. HD

The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California.

To send your comments to the author and editors, please e-mail levin0506@hcdmagazine.com.

Healthcare Design 2006 May;6(3):6