Leaders Instrumental in Development of the Albany Med Health System Receive High Honor

R. Wayne Diesel and Dr. Mary Gail Biebel received the Pillars Award, Albany Med Health System’s highest honor, at a June 5 ceremony. Pictured left to right: R. Wayne Diesel, Dr. Dennis McKenna, president and CEO of the Albany Med Health System, and Dr. Mary Gail Biebel.

Two leaders integral to the creation of the Albany Med Health System were awarded the System’s highest honor – the Pillars Award – at a June 5 ceremony and dinner.

Mary Gail Biebel, PhD, and R. Wayne Diesel were recognized for their long-term commitment to elevating quality health care in the Capital Region and for their efforts in the evolution of the Albany Med Health System. Both recipients held leadership roles during the affiliation of Columbia Memorial Health with Albany Med Health System, a key moment in the System’s history.

“Over the last 15 years, the health care landscape has changed quickly and dramatically,” said Dennis P. McKenna, MD, president and CEO of the Albany Med Health System. “The strategic decisions and thoughtful leadership by Dr. Biebel and Wayne Diesel helped us meet the needs of our patients and communities. They laid the groundwork so we could successfully transform into the System we have today.”

The Pillars Award was established in 1997 at Albany Medical Center to recognize individuals who epitomize the mission of the institution, and whose work and contributions have made a significant impact in the community. This honor is bestowed annually at the Arnold Cogswell Dinner, named after a former president of Albany Medical Center, public servant, philanthropist and Hospital Board of Governors chair. He was a staunch advocate for the merger of the Hospital and College in the 1970s.

“I'm honored to be a part of the Albany Med Health System’s past and future,” said Dr. Biebel. She serves on the Albany Med Health System board. She is also a strategic planner and organizational development specialist working with tech and engineering organizations. “I am proud of our ongoing efforts to bolster the medical system our communities depend on, support world-class research, and build the next generation of health care professionals.”

“The Albany Med Health System is a cornerstone of our communities,” said Diesel. He served on the Albany Medical Center board of directors from 2005-2022 and continues as an emeritus member of the Albany Medical Health System board; he is a former New York State Budget Director and held financial leadership positions in state government and the private sector during his professional career. “Through the careful work and determination of so many, this institution continues to set the standard in health care, community benefit, and medical education. I am honored to have helped steer its growth at such a pivotal time in the System’s history.”