Bluford honored for innovation, leadership, and health equity contributions.

John BlufordThe American Hospital Association (AHA) today announced that its 2019 Award of Honor will be awarded to John W. Bluford, III, founder and president of the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute (BHLI) for the organization’s leadership in professional workforce development, diversity, and health equity. The award, presented on April 8 at the AHA’s Annual Meeting, is given to individuals or organizations in recognition of exemplary contributions to the health and well-being of our nation through leadership on major health policy or social initiatives.

In 2013, Bluford founded the BHLI to develop a talented pipeline of culturally competent scholars for leadership roles in healthcare who will serve to address long standing disparities and social-economic determinants of health among vulnerable patient populations. Since its founding, the BHLI has transitioned more than 40 of its graduates into health care professions and/or graduate programs in the health field. Bluford’s work with the BHLI is a reflection of the visionary contributions he has made across the field.

“Health equity and elimination of health care disparities are attainable achievements, not just words, thanks in part to John’s lifelong commitment to a truly inclusive system of health care,” said Rick Pollack, AHA president and CEO. “He has been steadfast in his work to close the gaps in health care that often affect our most vulnerable patients, and that effort will live on in the next generation of diverse health care leaders, who he has trained and inspired. His demonstrated leadership has moved the field forward in addressing health equity and community needs.”


Prior to founding the BHLI, Bluford served as the President and CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, Mo. for 15 years. In addition, he served for 21 years in various leadership roles at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn., including the last six years as its President and CEO. Throughout his career, Bluford has championed changes in the culture of organizations, making them more patient-centered and innovative with programs such as school-based clinics and community outreach initiatives to support patients outside of the hospital. Bluford began his career as a CDC-trained epidemiologist and has been recognized by Modern Healthcare and Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the “Most Influential People in Healthcare.”

Previous Award of Honor winners include Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer at Catholic Health Association of the United States; George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente; and Donald M. Berwick, M.D., former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.