On May 12, 2015, Geralyn was on her way home from an ordinary business trip when Amtrak 188 derailed outside of Philadelphia. She was crushed in the crash, which killed eight and injured hundreds. Her abdominal, chest, pelvic and orthopedic injuries were overwhelming, and she was not expected to live. In a split second, she went from being a devoted mother of three boys and globe-trotting senior executive at one of America’s largest companies to an immobilized ICU patient on a ventilator facing a highly uncertain future. And for her family, the hard-charging working mom that could be counted on to shake off the jet lag of a flight from Asia and make the middle-school baseball game on time, turned into someone almost unrecognizable and completely dependent on their care.
Geralyn’s doctors use the word “miraculous” to describe her survival and recovery. Today she lives a full life inspired by gratitude and offers hope and healing to many others. She is known for her distinctive laugh that fills a room and determined resilience in the face of personal and professional challenges.
Geralyn wrote her memoir, Bone by Bone, in hopes of helping other survivors of traumatic injury—as well as their families and caregivers. Inspired by her own feelings of loneliness during her recovery and efforts to connect with other survivors, Geralyn shares her story as a deeply personal attempt to salvage a shred of something positive from the disaster. Her lessons learned during an arduous recovery are inspiring and told with both honesty and humility. She is unique in her ability to find humor in even the darkest situations and to highlight some of the absurdities of the medical and insurance system that survivors of complex trauma must navigate.
A recognized expert in healthcare policy, Geralyn was determined to re-start her career after years of disability leave following the accident. She is currently executive vice-president at Organon & Co., a new company dedicated to women’s health. Prior to the launch of Organon in 2021, she was a longtime senior vice president of Merck & Co., Inc., one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world. At Merck, her passion was leading the Company’s engagement on social and community issues and supporting forward-thinking governance at the highest levels of the company. She is especially proud of creating a half-billion- dollar philanthropic initiative to end preventable maternal deaths around the globe.
A major milestone in Geralyn's professional recovery is pictured - ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in June 2021
After weeks in intensive care and five major surgeries, Geralyn is pictured being transferred to another hospital to continue her rehabilitation
Geralyn has made it a priority to give back to the hospital community that saved her life. She is co-chair of the Patient-Family Advisory Committee at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
She also serves on the Board of Visitors of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy and on several other boards of major non-profit organizations, including Power to Decide, and Business for Social Responsibility.
Geralyn and her husband Jonathan have been married for 25 years. Jonathan and their three sons traveled every step of the recovery journey with her, and their experiences as unexpected caretakers are an important part of her story. Geralyn is a frequent public speaker on the topics of personal and professional resilience, trauma recovery, the patient perspective on the opioid crisis, and the power of grace.