A Tribute to Our CEO, Dr. Tom Hansen

On May 1, Dr. Tom Hansen will step down as Seattle Children’s CEO after 10 years of service. During his leadership, Hansen was known as a visionary with big ideas – big ideas that helped us become one of the best children’s hospitals in the world while getting us closer than ever to achieving our goal of eliminating pediatric disease.

In May, Hansen will pass the CEO baton to Dr. Jeff Sperring, but he has no plans to stop innovating on behalf of Seattle Children’s. He will be returning to his research roots full time, continuing to pursue his passion of helping improve outcomes for premature infants as an investigator at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. In his research, he will focus on the development of low-cost ventilators for premature infants born in low- and middle-income countries.

Below is a list of Hansen’s many achievements as our leader, along with some tributes from his colleagues, which you’ll also see in the video above.

A few of Hansen’s many achievements:

  • Growing Seattle Children’s Research Institute from less than 100,000 square feet with $15 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding to 330,000 square feet with nearly $45 million in NIH funding.
  • Opening a major outpatient and ambulatory surgery center in Bellevue.
  • Overseeing the completion of the 330,000 square foot Building Hope expansion at the hospital, furthering the hospital’s commitment of treating every child in the region who requires its care.
  • Helping the Seattle Children’s Foundation increase funding by 66%.
  • Being instrumental in developing Seattle-PAP, an affordable device intended to provide breathing support to premature infants in developing countries, which is now moving into clinical trials with the generous support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • Co-founding the Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth (GAPPS), an initiative of Seattle Children’s, with Dr. Craig Rubens in 2007. Hansen and Rubens launched GAPPS with the aim to lead a collaborative, global effort to increase awareness and accelerate innovative research and interventions that will improve maternal, newborn and child health outcomes around the world. Today, GAPPS is an internationally recognized initiative and has furthered Seattle Children’s as a leader in global health.

Lisa Brandenburg, President, Seattle Children’s Hospital

“What I admire most about Tom is his incredible ability to articulate a vision. Some examples: ‘Be known nationally and internationally as one of the best children’s hospitals.’ What access to our care should look like: ‘How soon can you get here?’ Regarding our need to grow: ‘Grow to serve all the kids who need us.’ For research: ‘Create cures, and in the long run, put ourselves out of business.’ I’ve learned from Tom to be bold! To believe in who we are and articulate a big vision that captures our potential.”

Dr. Jim Hendricks, President, Seattle Children’s Research Institute

“Tom has contributed in many ways to Seattle Children’s, but none is more visible than the growth of Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Over the last decade, National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to the institute grew an average of 17% a year. By comparison, annual growth in NIH funding for similar nationally-recognized research institutions was much less. Our success can be attributed to increased space, increased investment and increased attention; more important, however, is the impact of our success on the children and families we serve. It is this impact that defines Tom’s legacy!”

Doug Picha, President, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation

“Tom’s ‘think big, act big’ attitude and approach on behalf of our kids at Seattle Children’s has served us well. He once told me, ‘Everyone thinks that clinical operations drive the system, when in actuality, research does.’ When you have a thriving research enterprise you attract the best and brightest workforce, which makes your clinical side flourish. That has been our experience here under his leadership. Tom was able to keep Seattle Children’s a free-standing children’s hospital while expanding our reach from a four-state, clinical-based hospital to a global clinical and research pediatric system. This change has been transformational.”

Dr. Bruder Stapleton, Sr. Vice President and Chief Academic Officer

“Tom’s vision and innovation changed this institution forever. He promoted the vision of being a world leader in pediatric care and research when he came, and has led us toward that vision. His support for research and research facilities has enabled us to move into the top tier of pediatric research institutions.”

Dr. Mark Del Beccaro, Sr. Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

“I admire Tom’s ability to think big and make goals attainable. He has strengthened our mission and helped Seattle Children’s grow in ways we never imagined through his work with Seattle Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation, and others. I’ve learned from Tom that if you invest in people, they will do great things.”

Jeff Sconyers, Sr. Vice President and General Counsel

“Tom’s support and promotion of Seattle Children’s Research Institute has enabled us to conduct ground-breaking research in pediatric disease that will yield benefits to children world-wide for decades to come.”

Kelly Wallace, Sr. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

“Tom’s legacy is a decade of extraordinary growth. Our patient revenues tripled, our research revenues tripled, our facilities tripled and our financial strength tripled. And during Tom’s tenure, our nation endured the greatest recession since the Great Depression. What a legacy!”

Suzanne Petersen Tanneberg, COS to the CEO & Vice President, External Affairs

One of the things I admire about Tom is his ability to hone in on the most important, fundamental questions and translate the answers for widely diverse audiences. To see the forest for the trees, bring folks together so everyone is on the same page and cut through the ‘complexities!’”

Dr. Robert Sawin, Surgeon-in-Chief

“I have learned from Tom that as a leader, it is vitally important to set a vision, about which everyone can get excited. This creates positive energy and a ‘can-do’ spirit, making anything possible. Tom is not a leader who accepts a response of, ‘We can’t do that.’ Instead he keeps encouraging people to figure out how to move toward that vision. He also trusts his colleagues, and puts them in positions to take advantage of their strengths. Additionally, he gives them a great deal of autonomy to do what needs to be done to reach those goals.”

Dr. Craig Rubens, Executive Director, GAPPS

“I admire Tom’s visionary thinking and tenacity, his tolerance for hearing and supporting new ideas that are high-risk, his loyalty to Seattle Children’s staff and faculty, and his commitment to saving and improving children’s lives, here and abroad. From Tom I have learned how to develop innovative approaches to problem solving and pursuing new growth ideas, to delegate to the talent you have in your staff and to trust them, and to think big.”

Maggi Murphy, Sr. Executive Assistant to the CEO

“Tom is a remarkable visionary who keeps his compassion for our patients and their families, and his appreciation for the efforts of those around him, foremost in his mind.”