The Class of 2017 profiles the women and men who joined the AHA board this year.

 While the pace of change may vary across the country, Brian Gragnolati, senior vice president of the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, sees opportunity in the challenges facing the field.

“We’re in an incredible period of change,” says Gragnolati, who joined the AHA board on Jan. 1. “The successful health care systems of the future are going to embrace these challenges and recognize that ultimately this is going to help us to better serve our communities.”

In addition to driving high, safe quality care and lowering down per capita costs, Gragnolati stresses that hospitals should also focus on being transparent about their pricing and results.

“If we don’t do that as a field, it will occur anyway,” he says. “We should really be participating in that conversation about transparency so that patients ultimately have the opportunity to make good decisions.”

Given the numerous pressures on health care leaders, Gragnolati believes it’s more important than ever to stay committed to improving the health of communities.

 “I never forget in any decision I make that ultimately it’s about the patients and it’s about the community,” he says. “All of the other things we do are really put in place to support that.”

Gragnolati is passionate about helping to build the pipeline of talented people joining the health profession, both from a clinical and administrative perspective. He hopes the next generation will learn and benefit from today’s work and have the passion to adapt to the changing environment.

“Our system of care is based on human beings taking care of human beings,” says Gragnolati. “We use a lot of technology and innovation but it’s that human connection that ultimately drives care, and it drives clinical outcomes.”

Gragnolati started in the health care field as an emergency medical technician, and has since worked on the administrative side at teaching, academic and community-based hospitals and systems both large and small.

 On May 4, he will leave Johns Hopkins to become president & CEO of Atlantic Health System in Morristown, N.J. Before joining Johns Hopkins, Gragnolati served as president & CEO of Suburban Hospital Health System in Bethesda, Md. He also held executive positions at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Mass. and at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (now Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington), the teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont.

Gragnolati is a past chairman of the AHA Section for Metropolitan Hospitals’ governing council and served as a delegate on the AHA’s Regional Policy Board 3. He also served a one-year term last year as an at-large AHA board member.

Gragnolati believes the AHA can serve as an “honest mirror” by providing information and guidance that supports organizations dealing with change. “It’s helping organizations to recognize where they need to be, even though they might not be ready,” he says. “It all comes down to what is best for the community, and helping the field to understand that.”