Heather Wood Ion

Heather Wood Ion is a Chief Executive and cultural anthropologist who holds degrees from McGill University, Claremont Graduate School and Oxford University. She specializes in turning around troubled organizations and communities.


Her doctoral research on social and cultural recovery from disasters has been applied to assist communities and corporations in trouble all over the world. She has helped communities locked in adversarial paralysis, social service agencies, corporations that have lost their mission, and start-ups unable to cope with growth. For the last seven years of his life, Jonas Salk, MD, relied on Heather Ion as his editor, sounding board and collaborator on issues of international health policy, and in establishing the science of hope.

Her first book, Third-class Ticket has been translated into Italian, Hindi, Japanese and Chinese, and is currently being made into a feature film.  Another book, with Saul Levine MD, Against Terrible Odds, applies her knowledge of social and cultural recovery to the profound issues of individual resilience. Most recently a biography of a father/daughter physician tradition, Making Doctors, portrays what makes a great healer, and what we can learn from our pioneering traditions.  She has published over 270 articles and has been keynote speaker for  the World Literacy Council, the MacArthur Foundation, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of Women’s Health Professionals.  Winning her first major award at age 13, Heather Ion holds the Gold Medal from McGill University, and international awards for community service, writing and innovation.

Heather Wood Ion Programs `

Heather Wood Ion Biography

Heather Wood Ion Books


Full Biography

Complete Biography


Accomplished executive able to lead corporations, communities, and organizations to achieve sustainable change with enduring success. Award-winning communication skills; author and frequent keynote speaker.

Selected Accomplishments
• Strategist for various national initiatives on healthcare and educational improvement
• Created and implemented innovative programs for universities, nonprofit entities and start-up companies
• Turned around and saved from closure one district library, three healthcare systems, and three foundations
Worked with Jonas Salk to establish a science of hope and create an epidemic of health

The Athena Charitable Trust, 2001-Present Managing Director

The Hawn Foundation—2005 to 2007 Executive Director

VNA Home Health Systems, Santa Ana, CA—1998 to 2001 Turnaround
President and CEO

• University of Alberta, Historical Essay Competition, Honorable Mention, age 13
• United Nations Summer School, First Place for Women, International Competition
• Lindsay Thurber Composite High School, Valedictorian
• McGill National Scholarship, Three years “Outstanding undergraduate woman at McGill University”
• McGill University, Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Medal, top student Faculty of Arts
• Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
• Kent Fellowship
• Canada Council Award
• BBC World Service Book Award
• London Observer Book Award
• Founder and Chair, Ypsilanti District Library, Campaign to Save the Library
• Community Service Award, Washtenaw County, Michigan
• World Symposium on Science and Religion, Keynote Speaker
• American Council of Learned Societies, Keynote Speaker
• World Literacy Council, Keynote Speaker
• MacArthur Foundation, Peace Initiative, Speaker and seminar participant
• Wheatridge Foundation Award for program for refugee children health and education
• Visiting Nurse Associations of America, Keynote Speaker
• National Association of Women’s Health Professionals. Keynote Speaker
• Women’s Health and Managed Care, Conference Chair and Keynote Speaker
• Vancouver School Board, International Writers’ Seminar, Speaker
• University of California San Diego Medical School, Grand Rounds, Keynote Speaker
• Health Executives Forum, Keynote Speaker
• Center for Healthcare Improvement, Washington D.C., Keynote Speaker
• Santa Fe Institute, Keynote Speaker
• Professional Coaches and Mentors Association, Keynote Speaker

Expertise:  Change | Corporate Culture | Courage | Creativity | Crisis Management | Ethics / Values | Future Trends / Futurists | HEALTH / WELLNESS | Healthcare | Healthcare Medical Nursing Pharmaceutical | Heroes | HUMAN RESOURCES | India | Inspiration | Leadership | MOTIVATION / INSPIRATION | Overcomers / Adversity | Overcoming Obstacles | Society & Culture | Volunteerism | Workforce Issues