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. Julia A. Haller, a world-renowned leader in retinal disease, is Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of the Wills Eye Hospital, 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. She was educated at the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Princeton University, and Harvard Medical School. She was an ophthalmology resident, retina fellow, and the first female chief resident at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and went on to hold both the Katharine Graham and Robert Bond Welch, M.D. Professorships there before assuming leadership at Wills.
Her honors include the Rolex Achievement Award (to a past participant in collegiate varsity lacrosse), the Crystal Apple Award of the American Society of Retina Specialists 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 and the ASRS, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AAO.
Dr. Haller has published over 250 papers in the peer reviewed literature as well as 22 book chapters. She is past president of the American Society of Retina Specialists, Vice-President and President Elect of the Retina Society, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Macula Society and the Board of Trustees of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology. She serves on the editorial boards of RETINA, Retinal Physician, Retina Times, Ocular Surgery News, Retina Today, Ophthalmology Times, EyeWorld, and Evidence-Based Eye Care.
Dr. Haller serves on the Board of the American Retina Foundation, the Board of the ARVO Foundation for Eye Research, and the Board of Trustees of Princeton University.