Video: Dr. Gary K. Michelson Honored with Tommy Lasorda Leadership Award

Video credit: Milken Institute

At a recent ceremony in Beverly Hills, Milken Institute Chairman Michael Milken honored inventor and philanthropist Dr. Gary K. Michelson with the Tommy Lasorda Leadership Award.

Milken presented the award to Dr. Michelson at the 2024 Global Gourmet Games benefit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on May 4, the evening before the start of the annual Milken Institute Global Conference.

Milken opened the presentation by reflecting on his long friendship with Lasorda. He was accompanied by videos that highlighted the work ethic, leadership, and unique brand of humor that defined the late Los Angeles Dodgers coach.

After acknowledging previous winners, Milken introduced Dr. Michelson.  A renowned surgical innovator, Dr. Michelson is the most prolific inventor in medical history with nearly 1,000 patents. These inventions have revolutionized spinal surgery, changing the lives of millions and allowing Dr. Michelson to improve education, animal welfare, and medical research through Michelson Philanthropies, his network of philanthropic foundations.

Dr. Michelson is also a co-founder of the newly established California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy (CIII). Referring to the project, Milken, a fellow co-founder, said, “There’s a center here in Los Angeles that would have never existed—that will change the world and medical research—if it wasn’t for Gary’s tenacity…We secured a half-a-billion matching gift from the State of California and nothing would have happened if it was not for Gary’s persistence, insight, and vision. I thank you, Gary, for all the people on the planet.”

Accepting the award, Dr. Michelson shared a story about his friendship with Milken, which began after he sold his portfolio of patents for more than $1 billion in 2005. “I didn’t know what to do with it. [Milken] said, ‘come talk to me.’”

“He taught me Milken’s laws of effective philanthropy,” Michelson added, “ Every time I’ve ever deviated from that, I regret it, and every time I’ve done what he’s told me, it’s turned out well. Thank you.”

Established in 2018, the Lasorda Leadership Award, named after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, “recognizes individuals who embody Tommy’s legacy of leadership and management, a philosophy that applies across multiple disciplines.

“Leadership rules were always simple and straightforward. Love what you do and instill pride in those you lead. Appreciate what your team and your organization do for you. Be clear and honest in your communications. Put the team before the individual. And motivate your players to make sure they want it more than the other team – even if the other team had more talent.”


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