Joanne C. Smith, MD
President & Chief Executive Officer
Joanne C. Smith, MD, is a visionary leader and the driving force behind transforming the delivery of care in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R). As President and Chief Executive Officer of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) for the past decade, Dr. Smith has led RIC in its mission to provide the highest-quality patient care with the best outcomes through integrated research, discovery and education. Today she is leading RIC into its bold vision for the future: to be the global source of science-driven breakthroughs in Human Ability.
Integrating advances in medicine, science and technology holds tremendous promise for patients with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, and other devastating conditions such as stroke and amputation. RIC is inspired by a deep inner drive — a calling of conscience — to deploy its best assets and leading expertise to deliver on promises to patients, to improve their lives in ways previously unimaginable, and even to offer cures. Dr. Smith is the architect and champion of this approach.
For the past 26 years in a row, RIC has been named the #1 rehabilitation hospital by U.S. News & World Report. The scale of RIC’s research enterprise is the largest of its kind in the world. Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, RIC has experienced unprecedented growth and visibility. During her tenure as CEO, net revenues have increased 83% and cash reserves have grown 123% During the same period, grant revenues have grown 105%. Dr. Smith has also extended RIC’s reach; today, it serves more than 57,500 patients annually from 43 states and 64 countries.
Dr. Smith has been equally successful in spearheading the Institute’s capital campaign in support of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a revolutionary new research hospital. RIC’s level of investment is unprecedented in rehabilitation and stems from Dr. Smith’s confidence that the sector is poised for fundamental change — a belief shared by the many donors whose generosity has led RIC to well surpass its $300 million goal. By deploying science and tools in the clinical space as never before, RIC will lead this change, setting new global standards for outcomes and recoveries that will profoundly affect patients, scientific discovery and the way healthcare is delivered.
This approach represents RIC’s big bet on — and confidence in — the insight it will glean from integrating science and technology as embodied in the novel design and construction of the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. The 1.2-million-square-foot facility will be the first-ever “translational” research hospital in which clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists work together in the same space, surrounding patients, discovering new approaches and applying (“translating”) research real time.
In addition to her leadership at RIC, where she heads a team of 2,000 clinicians, scientists and staff, Dr. Smith is also a faculty member at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (NU-FSM) and a member of several professional organizations. In 2008, she received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She serves on the Healthcare Advisory Roundtable for Madison Dearborn Partners and on the Boards of Directors for Performance Health, Inc. and AptarGroup, Inc.
Dr. Smith earned a BS, cum laude, from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., an MD degree, with Alpha Omega Alpha distinction, from Michigan State University, and is Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
After completing her residency and chief residency at NU-FSM, Dr. Smith joined RIC as a practicing physician in 1992 and served the Institute in progressively expanded clinical, service development and operating roles. In 2006, she was appointed President and CEO of RIC.