Isaacson Receives GLFHC’s Highest Honor

Isaacson Receives GLFHC’s Highest Honor

CEO of The Gem Group Issues Donation Challenge

In the early days of COVID-19, The Gem Group in Lawrence shifted its operations and began producing masks and medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE).

Led by Chairman and CEO Jonathan Isaacson, the company ended up delivering more than 70 million units of PPE both locally and across the country to many organizations with frontline workers when those lifesaving items were difficult to get.

One of the recipients of that PPE was Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC), which presented Isaacson with its highest honor on May 4, the Making a Difference Award, during its annual gala at Andover Country Club.

“It is our sincere pleasure to recognize Jonathan Isaacson with this year’s Making a Difference Award, said GLFHC’s President and CEO, Guy Fish, MD. “Jonathan was an early and leading voice in the Merrimack Valley to follow the science during COVID-19.”

More than 400 people turned out to watch Isaacson receive the award, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, who gave the keynote address. The 17th annual gala raised nearly $400,000 – and will receive an additional boost from The Gem Group through a challenge issued by Isaacson.

During his acceptance speech, Isaacson promised the health center his company would match up to $250,000 in any donations made through July 4. All proceeds from the event are going toward expanding GLFHC’s behavioral health services – services which he said are desperately needed.   Anyone interested in contributing to the Isaacson/Gem Challenge should contact Rich Napolitano, Chief Strategy Officer at the health center, at (978) 722-2870.

“It’s clear the enormous toll that COVID has taken on the mental health of our community,” Isaacson said. “Investing in the mental health of the community is critical to a vibrant and equitable society.”

In Massachusetts roughly 30-percent of people have issues with behavioral health, Fish said. Access to quality health care – including mental health services – is one of the many roles community health centers like GLFHC are tasked with.

“There are many great and important social issues that we are called upon to fix,” Fish said. “We rise to the challenge of fixing social problems. We’ve got a lot of work to do when it comes to expanding behavioral health.”

Baker also touched upon behavioral health challenges in his address. He is hoping to see legislation passed that would allocate an additional $1.4 billion to primary care, behavioral health and addiction services over the next five years in the Commonwealth.

“We did have a crisis in behavioral health before the pandemic and now it’s significantly more so,” Baker said.

It was the second time Baker has been to GLFHC’s Making a Difference Gala, and his return fulfilled a promise he made to physician residents of the Class of 2022. In 2018, Baker promised them he would return for their graduation year – and he called the residents to the stage to take a photo with them.

Both Baker and Isaacson thanked the health center for their work performing COVID testing and vaccinations over the past two years. GLFHC performed nearly 90,000 COVID tests as part of the Commonwealth’s Stop the Spread Testing initiative, and to date has administered more than 140,000 COVID vaccines and boosters. The Gem Group hosted four vaccine clinics for its employees, administered by GLFHC.

The Gem Group is a privately held, multiple award-winning supplier of high-quality business gifts to the promotional and branded merchandise markets. The company operates under the trade name Gemline and has its primary operation in Lawrence, making it one of the largest employers in the region.

Isaacson currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Lawrence Partnership, a public/private economic development agency, where he chaired the COVID task force. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Department of Industrial and Operational Engineering at the University of Michigan School of Engineering, the Global Council at Junior Achievement, the County Leadership Council at the Essex County Community Foundation, and the Board of Overseers at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital. In addition, Isaacson has served on the Board of the Young Presidents Organization of New England as Day Chair, Membership Chair, Education Chair, and Chapter Chair, as well as the Board of Trustees of Lawrence General Hospital, where he also chaired several committees. He has served on the Parent Leadership Council at Harvey Mudd College, the Advisory Board of pet product distributor PetEdge, the Strategic Planning Committee of the Promotional Products Association, and the PPAI Product Responsibility Action Group. In 2008, he was named The Counselor Magazine’s International Person of the Year, and in 2021 was named The Counselor Magazine’s Person of the Year.

About GLFHC: The mission of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center is to improve and maintain the health of individuals and families in the Merrimack Valley by providing a network of high quality, comprehensive health care services and by training health care professionals to respond to the needs of a culturally diverse population. More than 62,000 patients depend on GLFHC for their primary health care needs at locations in Lawrence, Haverhill and Methuen. For more information, visit

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