Skip to content

Gaylord President and CEO Recognized with 2020 “Women who Mean Business” Award

WALLINGFORD, CONNECTICUT, November 17, 2020 — Gaylord Specialty Healthcare, a nonprofit rehabilitation-based healthcare system headquartered in Wallingford, is proud to announce that President and CEO Sonja LaBarbera, MSOL, MS CCC/SLP, was recognized by New Haven Biz with the Women Who Mean Business Award.

According to New Haven Biz, the second annual award was given to women leaders who “stand out from the crowd because of their achievements and their commitment to encourage others to succeed.”

LaBarbera, a Wallingford resident, is well-recognized among Connecticut’s healthcare leaders for her forward-thinking leadership, pledge to patient-centric care and commitment to cultivating a system of innovation and excellence.

Originally a speech language therapist by trade, LaBarbera came to Gaylord 15 years ago as director of inpatient therapy and ascended the ranks to COO. She became President and CEO in 2019 and quickly set in motion a monumental plan to grow Gaylord’s already stellar reputation as a regional and national provider of choice for rehabilitation and complex medical management.

“Rather than skipping a beat, Sonja sped up and started opening new avenues for development, opportunity, and investment in people, structure and our future,” commented Wally Harper, Vice President of Human Resources.

Her senior leadership team commends her commitment to patient-centric care, noting that her trademark motto, “It is always about the patient,” is the litmus test for every single decision she makes as Gaylord’s leader.

Her colleagues noted that her leadership in the time of COVID has been nothing short of remarkable. She quickly collaborated with medical staff to create the best possible outcomes for the influx of post-acute COVID patients and a safe environment for all. She remains open and accessible to listen to concerns and suggestions from the front lines and provides regular updates for employees.

“I’m truly humbled to be recognized for something I am passionate about: leading an organization that helps others regain their lives after catastrophic injury or illness,” said LaBarbera.

“All of us in Greater New Haven are very fortunate to have a network of strong women leaders who empower other women for no other reason than to simply make sure that each has the tools and the encouragement needed to be successful.”

About Gaylord Specialty Healthcare: Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is a rehabilitation-focused, nonprofit health system headquartered in Wallingford, Connecticut, that provides inpatient and outpatient care for people at every point in their journey from illness or injury to maximum recovery.

Gaylord Specialty Healthcare is anchored by Gaylord Hospital, a long-term acute care hospital, and includes Gaylord Outpatient Services and Gaylord Physical Therapy for patients who require diagnosis and treatment on an outpatient basis. Together, these entities deliver a complete continuum of rehab care driven by technology, research, clinical experience, and human compassion. For more information visit