BOSTON - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) honored Lois E. Silverman's accomplishments as she concludes her four-year tenure as the hospital's first female chair of the Board of Directors with a spectacular celebration at the Mandarin Oriental.
The evening, entitled "Celebrating Leadership," featured personal tributes to Silverman from BIDMC dignitaries - including Paul F. Levy, president and CEO; Carl S. Sloane, former chair of the Board of Directors; and Stephen B. Kay, incoming chair of the Board of Directors.
It concluded with a surprise performance by renowned conductor Keith Lockhart and a distinguished selection of the Boston Pops Orchestra. More than 300 friends, family members, and colleagues packed the elegant Oriental Ballroom to recognize Silverman, a prominent Boston businesswoman whose relationship with BIDMC spans more than five decades.
The culmination of the evening was when close friend and longstanding BIDMC supporter Stephen R. Weiner introduced Lockhart and an "all-star selection" of his Boston Pops colleagues.
Accompanied by Lockhart on the piano, soprano Kristen Watson and tenor Matthew Anderson sang several selections from landmark Broadway shows including Show Boat and The King and I. Guests then hit the dance floor to traditional big band numbers starting with Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade."
Lockhart had just returned from Australia, where he conducted the Melbourne Symphony, and Weiner thanked him for "postponing his jetlag" to perform before a loyal hometown crowd.
"It's a thrilling time between these two great institutions," said Lockhart, "because as you may know there's now an official relationship between BIDMC and the Boston Symphony as BIDMC has signed on as a sponsoring underwriter at this year's opening night at the Symphony. We are thrilled and we thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts, everybody in this room, for what you have done to perpetuate the extraordinary place that is BIDMC and the extraordinary health care in this community."
While the unannounced performance by Lockhart and the Boston Pops was the highlight of the event, the evening was punctuated by meaningful personal touches to make it special.
Following a procession of former BIDMC Board chairs, Sloane, Silverman's predecessor in the post, presented her with an official BIDMC lab coat embroidered with her name (now a tradition for outgoing BIDMC chairs) and read a letter from "another first lady," Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female president of Harvard University.
` Levy announced that BIDMC's Department of Nursing would be named in Silverman's honor, a particularly meaningful touch since she began her career with a $300 nursing scholarship to Beth Israel Hospital.
"We know that having your name permanently associated with nursing at BIDMC will be an inspiration to all those who serve in this capacity at the medical center, providing our patients and their families with selfless and exemplary compassionate care," said Levy.
Kay presented Silverman with a round silver charm to add to the charm bracelet she received on the 50th anniversary of her association with BIDMC; each charm on the bracelet symbolizes a part of her relationship with the hospital and the most recent symbolizes her "full circle" of involvement at BIDMC.
Coincidentally, Silverman used the charm bracelet as the foundation for her own remarks, outlining her contributions in health care quality (apple), compassionate care (heart), philanthropy (palm tree, a nod to BIDMC's annual Palm Beach event), and volunteer leadership (key).
"There's no doubt in anyone's mind that I love this institution," said Silverman. "It is here I became part of a family. It is here I developed relationships. And it is here that I found a voice and a seat at the table. Who would have ever believed that the young girl who was an orphan would one day have the opportunity to chair a Harvard teaching hospital?"
Silverman was the first woman to hold the position of chair of the board in the 113-year history of BIDMC and its founding institutions, Beth Israel Hospital and New England Deaconess Hospital.
During her term, Silverman made it her personal mission to improve the safety and quality of patient care at the medical center, and in 2005, she and her late husband, Norman, gave a $3 million gift to name the Silverman Institute for Health Care Quality and Safety, which acts as a coordinating hub for BIDMC's activities in these areas. BIDMC has been lauded for its efforts in improving safety and promoting transparency, particularly under the leadership of Silverman and Levy.
Silverman's professional career has spanned more than 30 years in business, with particular distinction as the first woman in Massachusetts to take a company public. With the help of a $300 scholarship, she received her nursing degree from Beth Israel Hospital in 1961; her experiences as a rehabilitation and insurance nurse led her to found the company, CRA Managed Care (now Concentra Managed Care), in 1988. Eighteen years later, this provider of services to reduce the costs of workers' compensation, automobile, disability, and health insurance claims was a $100 million business with nearly 2,000 employees. In 1997, Silverman applied her vast knowledge as a successful businesswoman and her subsequent philanthropic experience to found The Commonwealth Institute (TCI), a nonprofit committed to helping women entrepreneurs and senior executives in their career development.
In 1995, following in the footsteps of John Williams and Arthur Fiedler, Keith Lockhart became the 20th conductor of the Boston Pops, one of only three to hold the post since 1930. Lockhart has led the Boston Pops on 33 national tours, as well as performances at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall, and brought the music of "America's Orchestra" overseas in four tours of Japan and Korea.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching, and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the Official Hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit