My father was a military surgeon and I have always been influenced by his commitment to serve others. His career inspired most of my siblings and I to work in health care. From an early age, my parents taught all of us the importance of servant leadership and engrained a passion for giving back to your community. Among my siblings we have a nurse, a health administrator, and now two presidents of major health care systems.
My previous stops include serving as president of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, two locations serving children and families across the Houston area. I have also led Texas Children’s Pediatrics, the largest pediatric primary care network in the country, and Texas Children’s Urgent Care, which specializes in after-hours medical care tailored specifically to children.
I am currently president and CEO of Children’s National Hospital, where I am a “first” in this role, being the first woman of color to lead the organization in its 150-year history. This comes with a great deal of responsibility which I approach with humility and courage.
In pediatric health care, you care for the whole family, not just the child. It is a completely different model of health care than what you experience in the adult health care system. The ability to support generations and think more globally about health is what drew me in to pediatrics.
To that end, there is a growing body of evidence showing that the mother’s health is critical to the health of the child. I’m proud that Children’s National is leading groundbreaking research regarding maternal stress and fetal brain development. We are using that research to advance the integration of mental health and pediatric primary care to better support mothers and children. This body of work is specifically targeted on improving support and services to women and children of color in our community.
I have been amazed by the warm welcome and enthusiasm I have received since arriving at Children’s National. Women of color in our organization stop me regularly in the halls to tell me how important it is to see me as their leader. Together, we are building the vision of the organization for generations to come.
I hope that my journey not only serves as inspiration for others who have a passion to lead through service to others, but as a platform for others to thrive.
Michelle Riley-Brown, MHA, FACHE is the president and CEO of Children's National Hospital. Please note that the views of authors do not always reflect the views of AHA.