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Donald A. Malone Jr., M.D., gestures as he answers a question during his VITALS event in April 2022.

VITALS Goes Live, with Guest Donald Malone of Cleveland Clinic

Happy to be standing before a live audience, President Langell greeted the VITALS thought leader speaker series attendees Thursday, April 7, with the promise of hearing a distinguished NEOMED graduate from the Class of 1985 who now holds a top leadership position at Cleveland Clinic.

Stepping up to take the stage, Donald A. Malone Jr., M.D., was quick to note the significance of the NEOMED auditorium where the hybrid live/Zoom event was being held. Watanakunakorn Auditorium is named for the late Chatrchai Watanakunakorn, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and former professor of internal medicine whom Dr. Malone recognized for his expertise and generosity. When Dr. Malone was a medicine student just getting started in research, Dr. Watanakunakorn allowed him to be cited as the top author on the first research paper he published, helping the student get a foothold in that arena.

Dr. Malone pointed out to the audience that Serpil Erzerum, M.D. (’83) was also mentored by Dr. Watanakunakorn. Today, those two NEOMED alumni represent two-thirds of the leadership team that directly reports to Cleveland Clinic’s top executive.

VITALS events showcase such transformational leaders.

In his 17-minute presentation, Dr. Malone spoke about what he described as an unplanned journey to leadership, beginning as a clinical psychiatrist and culminating in his current position overseeing 52,000 employees as the president of Cleveland Clinic Ohio Hospitals and Family Health Centers.

This forthright speaker wrinkled his nose expressively when he said that no matter a person’s role, chances are that one day, you’ll be asked to help with something you don’t have any desire to do or feel capable of doing. But saying yes has yielded some of his best experiences, he said. Stepping up to tough conversations instead of avoiding them has also paid off.

Dr. Malone, who will mark 33 years at Cleveland Clinic in July, told the younger people in the room that there’s no substitute for experience. He recognizes that he can handle situations today that he wasn’t equipped for 10 years ago.

Following Dr. Malone’s presentation, he was joined onstage by Betty Lin-Fisher, a medical reporter and consumer columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal and the USA Today Network, who moderated questions from the live and online audiences.

Dr. Malone will be one of the transformational leaders profiled in the Spring 2022 issue of Ignite, NEOMED’s award-winning human-interest magazine.

REGISTER NOW for the final VITALS speaker of the 2021-22 year, Rita Horwitz, president and CEO of the Better Health Partnership, at noon Thursday, May 5, via Zoom.

Watch Donald Malone’s appearance on VITALS, April 7, 2022