Moda Health President Dr. William Johnson balances life, work, play

0913 LWP WilliamJohnsonDr. William Johnson is the first president of Moda Health, formerly known as ODS Health.

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0913 LWP WilliamJohnson
Moda Health President William Johnson is a self-proclaimed “gym rat.” 
// Photo by Adam Wickham

Dr. William Johnson is the first president of Moda Health, formerly known as ODS Health. A thoracic and vascular surgeon, he attended medical school at the University of Southern California and completed a fellowship in thoracic surgery at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Johnson lives in Portland, with his wife, Dr. Nathalie Johnson, and 13-year-old daughter, Noelani. His son, Akhi, is an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. “Our life is made up of one large book, each chapter building on the next,” Dr. Johnson says. “My goal is avoiding the trap of not learning from the previous chapters. If I can accomplish this one tiny objective, the book will undoubtedly have a happy ending. So far, so good!”

“I keep a number of different books at my bedside that I refer back to and re-read. One is A Complaint Free World. Daily we can forget about what incredible opportunities we have and how thankful we should be. Another is The Purpose Driven Life — why are we here and how can we improve? I’m also reading Quiet, about introverts. It resonated with me because I’m a pretty quiet individual.”

“My wife is a breast surgeon in Portland. We met during residency. She was a couple years ahead of me when I was an intern. She invited me over to a dinner party, and I thought a bunch of residents would be there. It turns out I was the only guest; she asked me out on a date! She is my absolute best friend, my soul mate and my confidante. I could not envision my life without her.”

“My wife and I like going for long walks, hiking, mountain biking in Whistler. Because our lives are so busy, we really like to shut out the rest of the world and just spend time with the family. I am an absolute gym rat. However, I do have two deep, dark junk-food weaknesses. Everyone at work knows, because whenever they have to give me bad news, I’ll find Snickerdoodles and dark chocolate Kit Kats on my desk.”

“People always say ‘used to be a surgeon,’ but I laugh about that. I’m still a surgeon. When I applied to USC undergrad as a biology major, my goal was to work for the FDA. As a bio major, everyone assumes you’re pre-med, so that’s how I went down the physician path, which I loved. But the business side of me has always been there. This role has allowed me to use that other talent I had all along.”

“What I love about my job is teaching and helping develop leaders. Our motto is ‘be more, be better,’ and having the ability to help Oregonians improve their lives from a health standpoint is the most important thing. When I practiced surgery, taking care of the patients one at a time was very gratifying, but now taking care of entire populations at a time is incredibly rewarding.”