Featured Leaders

Featured Leaders was a series from the Center for Leading Healthcare Change that profiled pharmacy leaders in the community.

Listy text: 

Carter advocates that "we must move now if we are to realize the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners 2015 vision of a truly patient-centered practice, of a 'new American pharmacist'—one who uses knowledge of drugs and drug products, and patient care skills; someone who accepts the responsibility of working with people to improve drug therapy outcomes and thereby improve patients' health."

Ken Clark may not know author Richard Bach, but he’s spent his life adhering to his philosophy: Ask yourself the secret of your success. Listen to your answer, and practice it. For a career that has spanned nearly three decades, the secret to Clark’s success has been simple: He helps. Every day he strives to make a difference in the lives of the people whose prescriptions he administers.

In a life that has spanned over three quarters of a century, two things have always remained constant to Ervasti – change and enthusiasm. Born to Finnish immigrants in Sebeka, Minn., Ervasti’s humble beginnings could not have predicted his success. The youngest of 12, he credits his farming experience for giving him the confidence he needed to take chances and succeed in life. Education was strongly valued in the Ervasti household. Something that, Ervasti said, led him to the University of Minnesota and his chosen degree in pharmacy.

Early in his career, Bob Gale attended a seminar at a national meeting of the American Society of Consulting Pharmacists, which would guide his footsteps for the rest of his career. It wasn’t a talk given by a national leader in pharmacy; it was a demonstration on the pommel horse by an Olympic gold medalist. Gale learned that day there are three factors that differentiate the good from the best: risk, originality and virtuosity.

As the healthcare pendulum swings, often new opportunities appear for entrepreneurial pharmacists. One such opportunity presented itself years ago to alum Brad Holmgren (COP B.S. ’76), and he had the foresight to envision the change and the courage to act. In the early 1990s, he saw significant change happening in the healthcare industry, with hospitals going through consolidations and fee restructuring to shift their focus from inpatient to outpatient care.

From January to June 2011, Professor Isetts served as a health policy fellow in the Medicare Drug Benefit Group where he worked on Part D MTM Program improvements. He was fortunate to extend his fellowship another five months to work on cutting-edge health reform initiatives in the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. “Many of the safety goals the innovation center is looking at – including improving patient safety and decreasing hospital readmissions – are things we’ve already addressed here in Minnesota,” he said. “This puts us at a great advantage in terms of what’s happening in other states and at the federal level.”

Johnson’s career shows a lifetime of leaving the security blanket behind to explore opportunities, develop relationships, navigate inevitable change – and find success in it. Johnson worked his way through pharmacy school, and after graduating in 1954, worked for two more years before purchasing a community pharmacy in Olivia, Minn. Unfortunately, the pharmacy – unbeknownst to Johnson – was bankrupt.

Over the years, Sam Kam has pursued careers spanning from drug discovery as a medicinal chemist and clinical medical practice as a specialty physician, to the business side of health care through ownership of innovative companies involved in the managed care industry.

Stuart Koe has built a career on challenging the norm. He is founder and CEO of Fridae.com, Asia’s leading gay and lesbian media and networking portal. The website has half a million members across Asia, where homosexuality is highly stigmatized. In Singapore, where the site is based, homosexuality is illegal. “We’re breaking rules left, right and center,” he said.

At age 30, with a young family, a biology degree and Army experience, Robert Navarro entered the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. He was older than most of his classmates, with more life experience, and he was looking to do something out of the ordinary.