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Richard Carmona, MD, MPH

17th Surgeon General of the United States, CEO, Canyon Ranch Health, Vice Chairman, Canyon Ranch & Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona


To Dr. Richard Carmona, true leadership isn’t a matter of theory. It’s an actionable brand of success that has transcended professions and industries and saved lives in times of crisis and imminent danger. From the corporate boardroom to the Oval Office, organizations have consistently turned to Dr. Carmona to drive change and transform cultures. Best known as a one of the country’s most admired Surgeons General and for his current role as Vice Chairman of Canyon Ranch, his extensive leadership background in many disciplines includes medicine, law enforcement, the military, public health, higher education, emergency preparedness, and health care management. Within these fields, he has held positions ranging from sheriff and SWAT team leader to RN to trauma surgeon. He also brings an extraordinary life story of disadvantaged beginnings and an inspiring self-transformation from high school dropout to combat decorated Special Forces veteran. As a keynote speaker, Dr. Carmona takes all of these dimensions to the stage, capturing audiences with his high energy, contagious passion, and unwavering belief in the principle of selfless service.

An accomplished executive in the business of health and wellness, Dr. Carmona is currently Vice Chair of Canyon Ranch and CEO of Canyon Ranch Health, America’s preeminent health and wellness brand. He also serves as President of Canyon Ranch Institute, the corporation’s nonprofit arm, focusing on sharing health and wellness education with underserved communities. Dr. Carmona is a Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Professor of Surgery and Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Arizona. Still active in law enforcement, he continues his reign as one of the most highly decorated police officers in Arizona as Deputy Sheriff and Department Surgeon of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. He is a member of Fortune 500 boards, involved in launching several small companies, and serves on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ MyVA Advisory Committee to improve the healthcare experiences of veterans as well as Departments of Defense and Homeland Security work groups. He is also the author of Canyon Ranch’s 30 Days to a Better Brain, a groundbreaking program for improving memory, concentration and overall well-being.

A highly regarded speaker with a magnetic presence, Dr. Carmona has spoken to an array of audiences ranging from financial services to military, law enforcement, high tech, healthcare, universities, associations and international groups. Committed to making his presentations “one of the best hours the audience has spent,” Dr. Carmona is known for working closely with clients to fully understand their audiences, deliver the desired takeaways and become the highlight of an inspiring and unforgettable event.


The Essence of Leadership

“The essence of leadership is being responsible for the destiny of others.” This powerful belief, gained while leading troops into combat in Vietnam, is the cornerstone of Dr. Richard Carmona’s highly successful approach to leadership. In this inspiring presentation, he shares poignant examples of leading change in multiple disciplines and vastly different organizations. He tells you what it takes to transform cultures, disrupt mindsets, shift directions and achieve results. He also examines the essential elements of successful leadership: integrity, stewardship, mentorship, empowerment of workforce, and above all, selfless service. His memorable stories and instructive examples are universally applicable to any profession, industry or level of leadership. Your audience will leave motivated to lead by inspiration and positively transform their organizations— often, one person at a time.

From Dropout to Surgeon General & CEO

The Business Case for Diversity

In this fascinating talk, former Surgeon General Richard Carmona shares with audiences how diversity can have a positive effect on business—and its bottom line. In this presentation, he touches upon:

  • Evolving demographics
  • Immigration issues
  • Defining the workforce
  • The buying power of emerging diverse markets
  • The power of diverse heterogeneous teams and creativity
  • Understanding cultural competence
  • The evolution from minority to majority and its implications
  • The added value in having a workforce that reflects your customer base

This completely customizable presentation is a must-hear for any organization looking to diversify.

A Vision of the Future of Technology & Medicine

Due to the rapidly escalating disease and economic burden—most of which is preventable—a new business model is needed. Government will provide an infrastructure, but citizens must become active participants in rejecting unhealthy behaviors and pursuing optimal health and wellness. In the future, there will be more practice “substitution,” home care, remote monitoring, telemedicine, and personalized medicine (to include pharmacogenomics). There were be shorter hospital stays and quality life expectancy will increase—at a cost. In this keynote, Dr. Richard Carmona helps define a path forward.

Patient Quality & Safety

Due to over 100 thousand preventable hospital deaths annually and a great deal of national variability in both cost and patient outcomes, quality measures and improved safety endeavors will continue to evolve and become essential drivers of future healthcare systems. Electronic medical records will be necessary to optimize patient quality and safety. “Check lists” will grow in use and popularity. Improved patient health literacy will be essential to improve quality and safety. If the private sector does not voluntarily continue to provide more essential data, the government will impose uniform reporting standards. In this keynote, Dr. Richard Carmona discusses the future need for healthcare to continue to address patient quality and safety.

PTSD & Mental Illness

It has become clear that mental health services are inadequate for our nation. One in five people who need mental health care cannot get it—and mental illness contributes significantly to patient non-compliance and increased co-morbidity and mortality from other illnesses. Engaging in two wars over 11 years has added significantly to our military’s burden of mental illness; on average, one uniformed service member commits suicide daily—more deaths than in combat.

DOD and VA facilities do not have the capacity to provide timely, needed mental healthcare to our uniformed service personnel and veterans. In addition to suicide rates, divorce rates, domestic violence, depression, and adjustment disorders, unemployment and PTSD have significantly increased for our combat troops and veterans. Currently evolving is a better scientific understanding of some of the causes of mental health and its treatment. Dr. Carmona paints a picture of the future for the provision of mental illness prevention and care.

The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is an admirable attempt at providing basic care for all. But it is important to separate the good elements from the problematic. It is time to stop politicizing ACA (and healthcare in general) and deliver a product to our citizens that, although not perfect, is an improvement to the system and adds value to their lives. Congress should be held accountable for breaching their fiduciary responsibility and placing the public at risk. This speech from former Surgeon General Richard Carmona poses a reasonable path forward for the Affordable Care Act.

Immigration & Border Issues

As a police officer in Arizona, Richard worked in and around the U.S. Border and has a unique insight into the health, law enforcement and federal policy issues around immigration.

National Preparedness & National Security

As a Special Operations soldier and police officer, widely published in the area of “all hazards” preparedness, Richard is recognized as an expert in both the tactics for, and provision of, medical care during catastrophic incidents.

Military & Veterans Issues

As a combat decorated and disabled veteran complemented by his experience at a local, state and national level, Richard has a unique vantage point and perspective on these contemporary issues.

Brain Health, Cognitive Preservation & Vitality

Based on Richard’s recently released book, 30 Days to a Better Brain, this speech contains all aspects of brain health and how you can preserve cognitive function as we live longer.

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