NOD Remembers Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard J. Tyson, a Visionary and Social Justice Champion
November 13, 2019 – The National Organization on Disability today honors the life and legacy of Bernard J. Tyson, a tireless advocate for equality, who passed this weekend at the age of 60. During his 30-year career with the organization, Tyson earned the rank of chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente Health Systems and Foundation Hospitals.
Tyson was a visionary, who helped shaped the future of healthcare. Under his leadership, Kaiser Permanente sought to mitigate the root causes of public health epidemics, like obesity, mental illness and homelessness, rather than simply treating affected patients.
As Kaiser Permanente’s first black CEO, Tyson became a leading voice for the African-American community and used his platform to champion social justice for minorities, including people with disabilities. By enthusiastically embracing diversity, Kaiser Permanente built an inclusive workforce that fueled a culture of innovation.
Just prior to his passing, Bernard addressed a corporate audience, saying: “What I’m after is bringing the most diverse populations inside of my organization and tapping into the brilliant minds that come from a universe of experiences that are very different depending on how you grew up, your community, your neighborhood, how you solve problems.”
NOD Board Director Ronald Copeland, M.D., F.A.C.S., who serves Kaiser Permanente as Senior Vice President & Chief Equity, Inclusion & Diversity Officer, shared his reflections on the sudden loss of Tyson: “The robust recognition and praise he has received by so many KP employees, national leaders and communities for his vision, courage, compassion and actions serves as a healing force for grief. We will transcend this moment and honor his legacy with dignity and courage.”
Bernard J. Tyson was an optimistic and fearless agent of change, which we at NOD hope and strive to embody in his memory.