On the eve of his retirement on March 31, 2017, Joe DaSilva ’78, LFACHE muses that his 40-year career “has been much better than I had hoped for.” For a man who spent his career guiding two of Texas’ major health care associations, influencing state and federal health care policy and legislation and holding leadership positions in more than 20 professional organizations and committees, that’s an understatement akin to “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”
Born in Indiana to Brazilian parents—where his father was completing a medical residency—and into a family that included numerous physicians, Joe says health care was ingrained in him early. “Just after age five, I relinquished my dream to be a fireman and focused on wanting to become a doctor.”
He worked in an Austin hospital from age 15 until he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin when he encountered his first career “fork in the road.” Should he pursue medicine or hospital administration at Trinity? He chose his love for hospitals.
Trinity’s HCAD residency requirement presented a second significant “fork” for Joe. Facing a choice between hospital administration or management of health care associations, he chose what became “a life-changing opportunity” - a residency with the Texas Hospital Association (THA). With HCAD opening the door and his degree “validating my ability to contribute,” he met many high profile CEOs throughout the state who became lifelong friends and mentors. “How and where else could that have happened?” he asks.
Joe spent nearly 30 years at THA, the last 20 as Senior Vice President in charge of all advocacy activities and public policy development for Texas hospitals that addressed a number of critical health care issues impacting the more than 450 hospitals and health care organizations and the patients they serve.
In 2009, Joe became CEO of the Texas Pharmacy Association (TPA), and for eight years, made a positive difference in the practice of about 30,000 pharmacists, 62,000 pharmacy technicians and 4,500 pharmacy students in the state. He also has been responsible for leading the Texas Pharmacy Foundation, the Texas Pharmacy Association Services, Inc., and the Texas Pharmacy Association Political Action Committee (PharmPAC).
With ebullient Brazilian élan, Joe describes his approach to association management: “Without question, I am addicted to problem solving in management situations and interpersonal conflicts. I truly enjoy finding and selling solutions to challenges and have done so as a manager and a lobbyist in both the governmental and private arenas.” His optimism in life and career has been influenced by a famous Robert F. Kennedy quote: “Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they could be and ask why not?”
Over the course of his career, Joe has met with several U.S. Presidents, the Speaker of the House and most members of the Texas Congressional Delegation. He attended George H. W. Bush’s State of the Union address and the presidential inauguration of his son, George W. Bush. On various occasions, Joe has discussed and developed policy with national health care leaders and played a role in the passage and implementation of important health care legislation.
At the state level, those activities are “magnified many times.” Since 1977, he has met and worked with every Texas governor, lieutenant governor, nearly all state-elected legislators, the leadership and staff of numerous state agencies and most Texas-based health care organizations, all of which enabled him to influence laws and regulations that benefitted patients, hospitals and pharmacists. “I am very proud of that fact, though it’s still difficult for even me to believe the many opportunities that have come my way.”
As he phases into retirement, Joe says, “I have been blessed with a lifelong guiding faith, a strong and supportive marriage, two phenomenal and successful sons and five charming and bright grandchildren. What more could there be?”
By Mary Denny