Alumni Celebration

Spotlight success.


Judson C. Green T. Russell shields Joanne C. Smith Karen L. Parkhill


Joanne C. Smith MD, MBA ’00
President & CEO, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Joanne Smith, MD, MBA ’00, began her career at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) in 1992. An attending physician who specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation, she began to take on a steady progression of clinical and administrative roles. Smith had no plans to get an MBA.

In the early 1990s, she worked with Dr. Henry Betts and his team, devising a growth plan that helped RIC serve its clients better. In 1994, she became director of Medical Planning. In 1995, Smith she was named medical director of RIC’s Expanding Day Rehabilitation Centers program. In 1997, she was named senior vice president and chief operating officer of Corporate Partnerships.

During her intensive work, RIC’s CEO asked Smith to join the staff of the University of Chicago Hospitals as a medical consultant. During her tenure, she saw first-hand that top physicians who were on the forefront of acute “cure-based” medicine did not always understand the rehabilitation work performed in the post-acute sector. The experience spurred Smith to get her MBA, and she entered Chicago GSB’s Evening MBA Program, earning her degree in 2000.

Smith’s career continued to progress. In 2002, she was named senior vice president for Corporate Strategy and Business Development. In 2005, she became president of RIC’s National Division. And in 2006, Smith was named the first female CEO of RIC.

Today, Smith is leading the way in providing rehabilitation to members of the military wounded in Iraq. She has been a principal influence behind RIC’s service diversification and geographic expansion from a single flagship campus in downtown Chicago to more than 30 venues across Illinois and Indiana.

Smith was named one of Chicago’s Top Doctors in 2006 and 2007 by Chicago Magazine, and included among the “women to watch” by Crain’s Chicago Businessin 2007. For the past 18 years, RIC has been named the number-one rehabilitation hospital according to U.S. News and World Report— Smith’s entire tenure at RIC.