Governance and Leadership
In his bequest in 1832, the Quaker merchant James Wills created a trust to establish the “Wills Hospital for the Relief of the Indigent Blind & Lame” to be administered by the “Mayor and Corporation of the City of Philadelphia.” In 1869, the Pennsylvania legislature established the Board of Directors of City Trusts for the purpose of administering all funds left in trust to the City of Philadelphia, including that of James Wills.
Today, Wills Eye is overseen by the Board of Directors of City Trusts and the Wills Eye Committee, a standing committee of Board Members dedicated to the mission of Wills Eye. Day-to-day operations are managed by the Executive Director and the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief.
The Board of City Trusts is a group of dedicated Philadelphia civic leaders appointed by and accountable to the Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. Membership consists of 12 citizens of Philadelphia and the Mayor and the President of City Council, who serve Ex-Officio. The board serves without compensation.
The Wills Eye Committee oversees all matters relating to Wills Eye. The Executive Director and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of Wills consult with the Chairman of the Wills Eye Committee on matters of policy, organizational changes, and major operational issues.
Wills Eye Committee
The Wills Eye Committee of the Board of Directors of City Trusts is comprised of Board Members who are charged with the direct supervision of Wills Eye's executive management. These Board Members bring their extensive experience and talents to the stewardship of Wills Eye.
The committee members are:
Hon. Ronald R. Donatucci, President and Chairman
Michael Meehan, Esquire
Bernard Smalley, Esquire
Hon. Michael Stack
Hon. Marian Tasco
Hon. Anna Verna
Hon. Ronald R. Donatucci
President, Board of Directors of City Trusts
Chairman, Wills Eye Committee
Mr. Donatucci has dedicated most of his career to public service. After serving as a law clerk in the Philadelphia City Solicitor's Office, Mr. Donatucci served as counsel to the Philadelphia Parking Authority, and then as Chief of Enforcement for the Department of Licenses and Inspections for the City of Philadelphia. Following these offices, Mr. Donatucci was elected and served with distinction as a Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 185th District. Since 1979, he has served as Philadelphia's Register of Wills, which includes sole jurisdiction over the probate of wills and acting as agent for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the collection of inheritance tax. He is the ex-officio Clerk of the Orphans' Court.
Mr. Donatucci also serves as a Trustee of Temple University and a Board Member of the Temple University Health System and Fox Chase Cancer Center. Throughout his career, he has been an active participant in numerous civic organizations and has received countless awards in recognition of his civic activities.
Wills Eye Executive Leadership
Joseph P. Bilson
Chief Executive Officer
As Chief Executive Officer since 2007, Joseph P. Bilson has developed an impressive record of success. Mr. Bilson’s leadership has achieved clinical volume goals through aggressive program development and robust financial performance during some of the harshest global economic periods on record.
Mr. Bilson’s accomplishments have been many during his 30 years with Wills Eye. He strategically planned and developed a very successful network of multi-state ambulatory surgery centers. He implemented major projects, including Wills On Wheels, a new mobile eye clinic for community outreach and education. He constructed a state-of-the-art Diagnostic Testing Center with advanced testing equipment not available elsewhere in the Eastern United States. He also launched the Wills Eye Knowledge Portal for online ophthalmic medical education.
Mr. Bilson also has served as President of the Wills Eye Surgical Network since 1995. Prior to Wills Eye, he held various senior positions with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Mercy Catholic Medical Center. Mr. Bilson attended Penn State University and Rowan University. He is a graduate of the School of Business with a concentration in Accounting and Finance. He graduated magna cum laude with honors. He is president of the American Association of Eye and Ear Centers of Excellence, where he also served as Secretary/Treasurer in 2009.
Under his leadership, Wills Eye ranked as one of the top three ophthalmic specialty hospitals for the 21st consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.
Julia A. Haller, MD
Dr. Haller is Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, where she holds the William Tasman, M.D. Endowed Chair. She serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, and Co-Director of the Wills Vision Research Center at Jefferson. She was educated at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Princeton University, and Harvard Medical School. After a Halsted surgical internship at Johns Hopkins and a fellowship in ocular pathology with Frederick A. Jakobiec, M.D. at Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, she completed her residency in ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. She received a Heed Fellowship award for her retina training at Hopkins, directed by Ronald G. Michels, M.D. She then became Wilmer’s first female Chief Resident, joined the faculty thereafter, and was named the inaugural Katharine Graham Professor of Ophthalmology in 2002, and the inaugural Robert Bond Welch, M.D. Professor of Ophthalmology in 2006. At Wilmer, also she directed the Retina Fellowship Training Program. She assumed leadership of the Wills Eye Hospital in 2007.
Dr. Haller’s honors include the Bryn Mawr School scholarship award for valedictorian, a National Merit Scholarship, her A.B. in philosophy magna cum laude, Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Honor Award, the Rolex Achievement Award (to a past participant in collegiate varsity lacrosse), the AAO Senior Achievement Award, the Vitreous Society Senior Honor Award, the Crystal Apple Award of the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) for teaching and mentorship, the Kreissig Award from EURETINA, the President’s Award from Women in Ophthalmology, a Secretariat Award from the AAO, the Gertrude Pyron Award from the Retina Research Foundation/ASRS, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AAO, the Louis Braille Award from Associated Services for the Blind and the Heed Award from the Society of Heed Fellows.
Dr. Haller has published over 300 scientific articles and book chapters. One of the world’s most renowned retina surgeons and invited lecturers, she has a particular research interest in retinal pharmacology, macular surgery, retinal venous occlusive disease, diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, the repair of complicated retinal detachments, and health care disparities, currently serving as principal investigator on $9m in government grant-funded projects.
Dr. Haller is president of the Retina Society, past president of the American Society of Retina Specialists, and president-elect of the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. She is an editorial board member of the publications RETINA, Retinal Physician, Retina Times, Ocular Surgery News, Retina Today, Ophthalmology Times, EyeWorld, and Evidence-Based Eye Care.
A member of numerous scientific advisory boards and data and safety monitoring committees, she is also a past member of the Boards of Trustees of Princeton University and the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, and has served as a consultant to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She currently sits on the Boards of the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research, Women in Retina, the Foundation for The History of Women in Medicine, the Harvard Medical School Alumni Council, and the Johns Hopkins Medical and Surgical Association. She and her husband, John D. Gottsch, M.D, a cornea specialist and the Margaret C. Mosher Professor of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins, have five children, John, Natalie, Will, Alex, and Clare.