Four RWJBarnabas Health Executives to Be Honored at New Jersey Hospital Association’s Best at the Beach Celebration

Thomas A. Biga, Gary S. Horan, Suzanne Spernal and Diana Candelejo Recognized for Strong Leadership within RWJBarnabas Health and Across New Jersey

NJHA's Best at the Beach

West Orange, NJ, June 1, 2023 – The New Jersey Hospital Association will honor four RWJBarnabas Health executives including Thomas A. Biga, Gary S. Horan, Suzanne Spernal and Diana Candelejo as recipients of the 2023 Best at the Beach Awards, for their dedication, compassion and innovation towards improving the health of all New Jerseyans.

  • Tom BigaThomas A. Biga, Executive Vice President and President of the Northwest Region for RWJBarnabas Health, is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes executive leaders with more than 15 years of combined service who have demonstrated integrity and superior leadership in improving their System’s overall performance and service to patients, residents, and community members. Mr. Biga oversees all RWJBarnabas Health facilities in Essex, Union, and Morris counties, including acute care hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities. He is charged with integrating these facilities to create a more seamless experience for individuals and families seeking care. Mr. Biga has demonstrated exemplary dedication to healthcare improvement and has held various leadership capacities throughout his career at RWJBarnabas Health since joining the System in 1993. He has served as Chief Executive Officer at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and Clara Maass Medical Center. As former president of RWJBarnabas Health’s hospital division, Mr. Biga led all operations across the academic health system's twelve adult hospitals and four children's hospitals, including managing the clinical product lines at each facility. His knowledge and keen understanding of hospitals have proven critical to his compelling and empathetic leadership. His passion for delivering healthcare and wealth of experience has marked his tenure at RWJBarnabas Health. Mr. Biga has steadfastly advocated for the people of New Jersey and is a prime example of servant leadership.
  • Gary S HoranGary S. Horan, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus of Trinitas Regional Medical Center (TRMC), is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes his long-term contributions to improving the health of the people of New Jersey through exemplary leadership, commitment, and integrity. He has devoted his career to advancing health and wellness and has been an exemplary leader in the healthcare industry for decades. Mr. Horan has driven the significant success of Trinitas Regional Medical Center for more than 21 years since joining the TRMC in 2001. He was critical in successfully integrating Trinitas into the RWJBH family in 2021. While he announced his retirement at the beginning of 2023, the TRMC Board of Trustees gave Mr. Horan the title of President and Chief Executive Officer Emeritus.
  • Suzanne Spernal, DNP, APN-BC, RNC-OB, C-ONQS, RWJBarnabas Health’s Senior Vice President of Suzanne SpernalWomen’s Services, received a Clinical Excellence Award honoring her commitment to turning the tide on the maternal health crisis and prioritizing women’s health and wellbeing throughout their lives – from preventative care and family planning clinics to pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. The Clinical Excellence Award recognizes caregivers who personify a commitment to care that goes above and beyond, as recognized by peers and patients, and improves health, including patient satisfaction, education, or access to care for vulnerable populations. Ms. Spernal leads the strategy and management of nine maternity programs within NJ’s most comprehensive academic healthcare system. Leveraging RWJBH’s unique position and ability to create change, Ms. Spernal tirelessly works to improve maternal health outcomes across the state, to ensure all New Jerseyans have access to quality maternal care. She was instrumental in establishing the RWJBH OB Collaborative, an interdisciplinary leadership team committed to ending preventable maternal morbidity and mortality and promoting maternity care equity. The OB Collaborative had measurable outcome improvements, including 20% fewer low-risk cesarean births, and launched three virtual support groups for new moms during the pandemic, serving over 1,000 women.
  • Diana CandelejoDiana Candelejo, Assistant Vice President for Economic Inclusion, Social Impact, and Community Investment at RWJBarnabas Health, received the Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes newer members of the healthcare provider community with less than five years of service in a management role who demonstrate outstanding knowledge and commitment and exhibit potential in leadership and innovations. Ms. Candelejo is a crucial figure in the system's social impact and community investment initiative (SICI) that addresses social determinants of health for the millions of New Jersey residents who rely on the system for healthcare needs. She has driven inclusive growth, as seen through her involvement in the Newark Anchor Collaborative (NAC), a cross-sector coalition of anchor institutions working to drive inclusive economic growth, build a healthier community, and generate a richer quality of life for all Newark residents and neighbors. She works closely with Human Resources to ensure facilities across RWJBH are hiring locally and upskilling members of the Black and Latinx communities into lucrative career ladder opportunities. Ms. Candelejo’s leadership has enabled RWJBarnabas Health to support workforce development, transitional housing, and the "Buy Local, Hire Local, Invest Local" initiative, which allowed the system to spend $55.48 million with small businesses, $39.66 million with woman-owned businesses, and $82.34 million with minority-owned businesses in the last four years.

The NJHA Awards will be formally presented at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, NJ, on Thursday, July 13.

About RWJBarnabas Health
RWJBarnabas Health is the largest, most comprehensive academic health care system in New Jersey, with a service area covering eight counties with five million people. The system includes twelve acute care hospitals – Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, Community Medical Center in Toms River, Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Jersey City Medical Center in Jersey City, Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset in Somerville, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in Hamilton, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway in Rahway and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital with a network of outpatient pediatric rehabilitation centers, a freestanding 100-bed behavioral health center, two trauma centers, a satellite emergency department, ambulatory care centers, geriatric centers, the state’s largest behavioral health network, comprehensive home care and hospice programs, fitness and wellness centers, retail pharmacy services, affiliated medical groups, multi-site imaging centers and two accountable care organizations.

RWJBarnabas Health is among New Jersey’s largest private employers – with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians– and routinely captures national awards for outstanding quality and safety. RWJBarnabas Health launched an affiliation with Rutgers University to create New Jersey’s largest academic healthcare system. The collaboration aligns RWJBarnabas Health with Rutgers' education, research, and clinical activities, including those at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey - the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center - and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care.