Thursday, December 3rd 2020
6pm Ireland / 1pm NYC
presented with The Consulate General of Ireland in New York
First Responder | The Limerickman leading NYC’s coronavirus response
CEO of Northwell Health Michael Dowling in conversation with Dave Hannigan
As the coronavirus pandemic surged through New York City in March, the first epicentre of the virus in the United States, and the harbinger for what was to come across the country, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo handpicked Limerickman Michael Dowling, CEO of Northwell Health, to be the city’s crisis manager for the state’s coronavirus response.
The multi-award winning, straight-speaking leader of the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State grasped the role, in the face of a hugely politicised Federal response and the shock of a city shut down, its citizens and communities leaving, locked in or forced to face & fight the virus. Early in his role, Michael Dowling explained how the pandemic “forces us to confront a new reality, to consider the fragility of our environment.” He also quickly recognised the inherent hope within the circumstance, and the scale and opportunity for change made available to us, stating “we will prevail and in the end, we will look back on it and say that was an unforgettable experience, but as long as we learn from it as individuals or as a community or as a society there can be an upside. It can give you a new perspective on life.”
His involvement in New York’s pandemic response has perhaps heightened his profile outside the business and diaspora networks in New York and Ireland, and brought him to wider public attention not just for his prowess in these fields, but also for his personal story, love of sport, and connection with home. I.NY welcomes Michael Dowling to a digital conversation with the Irish Times’ Dave Hannigan, Cork-born, and himself a New York resident of 20 years. This conversation will explore Mr Dowling’s work over the last 8 months, but also him as an individual, his life in New York, and his continuing connection with Ireland.
Michael Dowling is one of American health care’s most influential voices, taking a stand on societal issues such as gun violence and immigration that many health system CEOs shy away from. As president and CEO of Northwell Health, he leads a clinical, academic and research enterprise with a workforce of more than 74,000 and annual revenue of $13.5 billion. Northwell is the largest health care provider and private employer in New York State, caring for more than two million people annually through a vast network of nearly 800 outpatient facilities.
Born in Limerick, Mr. Dowling was the eldest of five children growing up in the rural village of Knockaderry. Having spent summers working in England as a teenager, having started college in UCC, he spent each summer in New York. He worked on the docks, in the engine rooms of the Circle Line tour boats, in construction, as a plumber, a barstaff, and as a school custodian, before moving to New York, and a Masters in Social Policy at Fordham University, following his graduation. He also has honorary doctorates from Queen’s University Belfast, University College Dublin, Hofstra University, Dowling College and Fordham University.
Mr. Dowling served in New York State government for 12 years, including seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to the governor. He was also commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services.
He has been honoured with many awards over the years, including: his selection as the Grand Marshal of the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City; induction into the Irish America Hall of Fame; the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the 2011 Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award from the National Center for Healthcare Leadership; and the Gold Medal from the American Irish Historical Society.
Dave Hannigan is a professor of history at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island, and a weekly columnist with the Irish Times, the Evening Echo, and the Irish Echo (New York). He is the author of several non-fiction books and two children’s novels. Born and raised in Togher, Cork, he now lives in East Setauket, New York with his wife Cathy and his sons, Abe, Charlie and Finn.