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Ronald Peterson: Biographies

Ronald Peterson

Mr. Ronald R. Peterson

Ronald R. Peterson is president emeritus of the Johns Hopkins Health System and special advisor to the dean/CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Mr. Peterson stepped down Dec. 31, 2017, after 44 years of service to Johns Hopkins and 21 years in the dual roles of president of the Johns Hopkins Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine — the umbrella alliance of the health system and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He was the first person to hold both posts.

He also served as the 10th president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, from December 1996 until July 2016. The hospital was ranked #1 in the nation for 22 years during the first quarter-century that U.S. News & World Report compiled its annual hospital ranking, beginning in 1991.

A 1970 graduate of The Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Peterson also holds a master’s degree in hospital administration from The George Washington University. He began his Johns Hopkins career in 1973 as an administrative resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and became administrator of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in 1974. A year later, he was named head of The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Cost Improvement Program, and in 1978 he became administrator of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

In 1982, Mr. Peterson became executive director of Baltimore City Hospitals under a management contract between the city and The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He led the transformation of the facility, directing a $100 million physical redevelopment and turning a $7 million a year loss under city ownership into a significant, positive bottom-line performance. The medical center, now known as Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, was acquired by The Johns Hopkins Hospital and The Johns Hopkins University in 1984. It became a member of the Johns Hopkins Health System in 1986, when the system was formed. Mr. Peterson served as president of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center until 1999, even after he was named president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In 1995, Mr. Peterson was named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Johns Hopkins Health System. He was named acting president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System in September 1996. The hospital position was made permanent in December 1996, as was the health system position in February 1997.

In those leadership positions, Mr. Peterson provided senior oversight through an executive structure for the health system’s six hospitals: The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Suburban Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. He also served as chair of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, which provides ambulatory care at 40 locations throughout Maryland and the Washington, D.C., area, and as a director of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, Johns Hopkins Home Care Group and Johns Hopkins Medicine International. 

Among his many civic activities, Mr. Peterson serves as vice chairman of the Governor’s Workforce Development Board and holds an appointment on the Notre Dame of Maryland University President’s Advisory Council. He serves on the boards of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Center Club, and he was recently elected chairman of the board of the Living Classrooms Foundation. He completed terms on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, the Maryland Hospital Association Executive Committee, the board of governors of the University HealthSystem Consortium and the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare’s Leadership Advisory Council.

These undertakings, as well as his work on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine, have in the past decade earned him induction in the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame; distinguished alumnus awards from The Johns Hopkins University and the George Washington University School of Public Health; the Community Service Award (on behalf of Johns Hopkins Medicine) from Chabad, the largest Jewish religious organization in the world; the Maryland House of Delegates Speaker’s Medallion for outstanding contributions to the state; the Governor’s International Leadership Award; the Baltimore Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce’s Freeman Hrabowski Visionary Leadership Award; and the Greater Baltimore Committee’s Walter Sondheim Public Service Award. He was also honored by creation of the $2.5 million endowed Ronald R. Peterson Professorship in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Born in 1948, the New Brunswick, New Jersey, native now lives in Bel Air, Maryland, with his wife, Elizabeth “Rooney” Peterson. Their daughter, Susie, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is a member of the emergency medicine faculty at Johns Hopkins, and their son, Joe, is an attorney in Baltimore. Mr. and Mrs. Peterson have five grandchildren.