Press Release

AHA Award of Honor to be Presented to Spencer Johnson

WASHINGTON (April 7, 2015) – The American Hospital Association (AHA) will present its 2015 Award of Honor to Spencer Johnson, president of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) and its subsidiaries in Okemos, Mich. The award, presented on May 4 as part of the AHA’s Annual Membership 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.

Johnson has served more than 30 years as MHA’s chief executive officer. His achievements include leadership in hospital-based quality improvement, creating the MHA Keystone Center for Patient Safety and Quality and MHA patient safety organization.  He forged the path for other hospital associations in creating public policy impact. He helped improve community health through the mercury thermometer exchange, Harvest Gathering campaign to feed the state’s neediest residents and statewide campaigns to eliminate hospital campus smoking and improve hospital food service. He also created a corporate culture for attracting and retaining staff.

“Throughout his career, Spence has been a tireless advocate for the hospital field, focusing on improving quality care through his cutting-edge leadership,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “We are honored to recognize him for his efforts to improve not only patient care and but also the way hospitals care for their employees and communities.”

In addition to leading MHA, Johnson is active in health reform policy and legislative development at the state and national levels, and is a former member of both the Prospective Payment Assessment Commission and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). He currently serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. 

Prior to assuming his current position in 1985, Johnson was executive vice president of the Hospital Association of New York State. Prior to that, he was involved in the development of federal health policy and legislation as associate director of the Domestic Council at the White House during the Ford Administration and as a staff member of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives.

Under Johnson’s leadership, MHA was honored by AHA with the Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership. In April 2001, Johnson received the AHA’s Board of Trustees Award for health policy development and service on MedPAC. In addition, in 1993 he received the MHA Meritorious Service Award for achieving landmark medical liability reform legislation on behalf of Michigan’s health care providers. Under his leadership, Modern Healthcare recognized MHA as of one of America’s 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare.

Johnson holds a master’s degree in public administration from Cornell University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from St. Bonaventure University. He resides in Okemos, Mich. with his wife Julianne, and they have three children and four grandchildren.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also will receive the 2015 AHA Award of Honor for its 40-year history of being a major force in health care delivery and advancement, including the foundation’s current goal of “Culture of Health for all Americans.”

Previous Award of Honor winners include organizations such as the Ohio Hospital Association’s Energy and Sustainability Program, Reach Out and Read, Ronald McDonald House Charities®, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and Habitat for Humanity. Individuals such as Rhonda Anderson, R.N., DNSc, chief executive officer, Cardon Children’s Medical Center; George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente; and Donald M. Berwick, M.D., former administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and former president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement also have been honored.

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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