Terry Forde

Position: President and chief executive of Adventist HealthCare, a Gaithersburg-based health-care services provider.

Terry Forde grew up helping his father run a family gas station in Minnesota. It was an experience he says taught him the importance of hard work and treating people with respect. After an internship at a hospital, Forde realized he wanted to enter the health-care industry. He started out working in the accounting department of a small hospital, and very quickly rose to be a director and then chief financial officer. From 2003 to 2011, he went from chief financial officer to becoming president of a hospital, where he helped spearhead campus expansions. He went on to serve as chief operating officer at Adventist HealthCare, an organization tied to Forde’s roots in faith, and is now set to take the helm.

How have you grown most as a leader?

Valuing and appreciating others. As a leader, you can’t do it all. You have to rely on really good people to help you accomplish your goals and vision as an organization. You have to help develop talented people around you that help you see the vision through.

I also learned to listen to feedback and input from people who have good ideas and suggestions. Health care is full of committed employees who care a lot about patients. Whether a physician or nurse or housekeeper, they all usually know what’s best for the patient. Listening to them and creating an opportunity for them to give input has really helped me over the years.

What are the challenges at Adventist HealthCare? How are you navigating them?

When I was chief operating officer, we had to work hard to focus our services on preventative health care and wellness to keep patients from having to be admitted into the hospital. I basically aligned with physicians and created community partnerships with other organizations that could help in that endeavor. I helped the organization focus on developing outpatient services that are less focused on inpatient campuses.

How has your faith has shaped your career?

I grew up Seventh Day Adventist. Our church has had a long commitment to health. There’s a strong connection between health and well-being and our mission statement at Adventist, which focuses on spiritual, physical and mental health. We’re committed to providing hope and health care to anyone who walks through the doors. The older I get, the more I see the connection to good health in my own life. I grew up with a medical condition, so I had frequent trips to the physician when I was around six years old. I had a severe form of pediatric arthritis in my right leg which impacted the whole right side of my body. It affected my eyesight. We lived in a rural area, so I had to travel two, three hours to get the help I needed. Having that condition and realizing the powerful impact that medical professionals can have on a young person’s life influenced me to make sure we continue to have services that are valuable.

How has your faith shaped you as a leader?

Being faith-based, we begin meetings with prayer and devotion. My faith keeps me grounded. It makes sure I’m a humble leader. It keeps me focused around mission. There’s great diversity in the people and communities we serve. Being able to understand all different faiths creates a better understanding in my own thinking.

What books are you reading?

I’m in between books. I read a lot of devotional books including Guidepost books. I read a lot of Stephen Covey books early in my career.

— Interview with Vanessa Small