Northwestern Medicine announced today, April 21, that it has appointed Northwestern University’s executive vice president, Craig Johnson, to be the health system’s executive vice president and chief operating officer effective June 5. In his new role, he will report directly to Howard B. Chrisman, MD, president and chief executive officer of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare.
Johnson has served as executive vice president for Northwestern University since 2018. In this role, he has been the chief steward of the University’s financial, capital and operational resources, working with leaders to support the teaching and research mission.
“I will always be grateful for my time at Northwestern and for the people I have worked with here. I have had the privilege to help this community of scholars and dedicated staff leave a lasting impact every day on our students and on our world,” Johnson said. “It has been an honor to be part of Northwestern’s journey for so many years.”
Johnson led the University through budget challenges with a rigorous financial management framework and increased partnership with schools and units. The University has achieved positive operating margins every year during his leadership, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson also oversaw the University’s strategic response to the pandemic, including emergency prevention and mitigation.
“Craig has been an extraordinary part of the leadership team at Northwestern University. His work in shepherding the University’s finances through a rocky period was critical in enabling us to emerge strong,” said President Michael H. Schill. “I greatly appreciate him staying on in his role for the past seven months as I got my ‘sea legs’ as president. Craig will always be an important part of our Northwestern family, and I look forward to working with him in his new role.”
As executive vice president, Johnson has been responsible for the central financial and administrative functions of the University. This includes oversight of Northwestern’s $2.9 billion operating budget and its capital budget, as well as more than 1,000 staff in treasury, facilities, IT, human resources, endowment, budget and planning, risk and compliance, procurement, organizational strategy and change, neighborhood and community relations, and safety and security.
Johnson first came to Northwestern as an undergraduate student. He began his career at the University upon graduation and has spent 23 years working first in the central budget office, then at Feinberg School of Medicine as its Vice Dean and Chief Operating Officer before returning to central administration.
While at Feinberg, Johnson was a key architect of the newly formed Northwestern Medical Group (NMG) that integrated the school’s faculty practice plan together with the Northwestern Memorial Physician’s Group under Northwestern Memorial HealthCare. He served as interim chief financial officer of NMG during this time as efforts began to integrate clinical operations.
“Northwestern is incredibly fortunate to have had Craig’s financial discipline and strategic leadership during times of great change for the University,” said Peter Barris, Chair of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees. “He has been an amazing asset to Northwestern, and he has kept us on firm footing while pushing us forward as an institution. It has been a great privilege to work with Craig, and I am grateful for all that he has done for the University.”
Johnson is a double alumnus of Northwestern. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the Kellogg School of Management.
“We are honored to welcome Craig to our executive team,” said Dr. Chrisman. “He has a proven track record of excellence, and this decision exemplifies the strong alignment between Northwestern University and Northwestern Medicine. We’re confident Craig will be key to furthering our strategic partnership as we move into the future.”
Northwestern Medicine is the shared vision of the Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, adopted in 2010 to transform health care and be among the nation’s top academic health systems through innovation and excellence. Anchored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, ranked #1 in Chicago and Illinois and #9 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, Northwestern Medicine includes 11 hospitals, over 200 sites of care and more than 5,400 aligned physicians.
The University will conduct a search for the executive vice president position. Until the permanent successor is in place, effective June 5, Vice President for Operations Luke Figora and Senior Associate Vice President and Treasurer Amanda Distel will serve as interim leaders jointly overseeing the portfolio. They have been in their current roles since 2021 and 2019 respectively.