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Leah Binder

Leah Binder

Leah Binder
President and CEO
The Leapfrog Group
Age: 52

Leah Binder's entry into the health care field was, as she recalls, “accidental.” She was interested in working for a nonprofit organization. After seeing an ad, she interviewed for and landed a position with the National League for Nursing, a nursing accreditation organization.

That job, where she handled policy and communications issues for six years, was a springboard to other positions in the health care field, including serving as a senior health policy adviser for then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, working for eight years as vice president of a rural hospital network in Farmington, Maine, and since 2008 as the president and CEO of the Washington-based Leapfrog Group, which is dedicated to improving hospital care.

Many years have passed since she entered the field, but her passion for improving quality of care has not ebbed. “I really enjoy seeing the changing health care market,” she said. For example, with the growth of consumer-driven health plans, individuals have become more aware of costs and have become better consumers of health services, she said.

And under Ms. Binder's direction, Leapfrog is helping consumers make better informed provider choices. In 2012, it published a report assigning letter grades to hospitals on their safety records. “It is a letter grade on how safe hospitals are for patients,” she said. Producing such a report was risky, she said: “Nothing like this had ever been done.”

That passion has not gone unnoticed. “As a former hospital leader, she knows full well that within the health care industry, it is widely known which physicians and hospitals are the best and which ones are to be avoided. Her work through Leapfrog is about making the same information available to everyone,” said Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of the Memphis Business Group on Health.

Her success is due to “vision coupled with persistence. She knows she is on the right side of patient safety,” said Robert Moroni, senior vice president and benefits consultant with The Segal Group Inc. in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

By Jerry Geisel