St. Patrick's Day Parade Names Health Care Leader Michael J. Dowling 2017 Grand Marshal

Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has been named Grand Marshal of the 2017 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Board of Directors has named Limerick native Michael J. Dowling, president and chief executive officer of Northwell Health, as Grand Marshal of the 2017 parade, Board Chairman John Lahey announced today.

He is believed to be the first head of a hospital to lead the 255-year-old parade.    

Mr. Dowling had a long and distinguished career in education and public service before joining Northwell Health in 1995.  He was a professor of social policy and assistant dean at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Services, and director of the Fordham campus in Westchester County. 

His 12 years of service in New York State government included seven years as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to the governor.  He was also commissioner of the New York State Department of Social Services.

He is chair of the Healthcare Institute, a member of the North American Board of the Smurfit School of Business at University College, Dublin, Ireland, and a former member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Sciences.

Mr. Dowling grew up in Limerick, Ireland. He earned his undergraduate degree from University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, and his master’s degree from Fordham University. He also has honorary doctorates from University College Dublin, and Hofstra University.

Since becoming president & CEO in 2002, Mr. Dowling has built Northwell Health into a regional clinical, academic and research enterprise that now has a presence throughout the metropolitan area. Northwell is the largest integrated healthcare system in New York State with a total workforce of more than 61,000 employees – the state’s largest private employer.  With 21 hospitals, 6,675 hospital and long-term care beds, more than 500 outpatient physician practices and a full complement of long-term care services, Northwell is one of the nation’s largest health systems, with $9.5 billion in annual revenue. 

In collaboration with Hofstra University, Northwell also has its own medical and nursing schools, as well as a research branch (Feinstein Institute) and an insurance company (CareConnect). Mr. Dowling has been honored with many awards over the years, including the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

Mr. Dowling and his wife, Kathleen, have two children, Brian, an administrator with Northwell, and Elizabeth, an oncology nurse with Northwell.  

“As a native son of a small country village in Western Limerick, I am greatly privileged and humbled by this extraordinary honor and recognition,” Mr. Dowling said. “I am proud to follow in the footsteps of so many remarkable luminaries as we again celebrate the very best of Irish and Irish-American history, culture and heritage.”

“Michael Dowling is the true embodiment of the values we celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day, a leader in a noble healing profession, an educator, a public servant, an Irish-American who has made enormous contributions to his adopted country and who has made us all proud to be Irish,” said John Lahey. 

The 256th St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 44th Street and proceeds up Fifth Avenue to 79th street in Manhattan on March 17, 2017, starting at 11 a.m.

The Parade will be broadcast live on WNBC-TV 4 and live-streamed on

About St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which began in 1762, marches up Fifth Avenue every year on March 17th in honor of St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland and of the Archdiocese of New York.