Press Releases

Seattle Children’s Commits to Rigorous Review of Race, Equity and Inclusion Practices

New board committee formed, will include community members and independent outside expert

Seattle Children’s is committed to being an anti-racist organization. We recognize there is a great deal of work needed to realize this vision, but we are dedicated to taking the necessary actions to get there.

The recent departure of Dr. Ben Danielson at the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and resulting media coverage shined a light on many areas where we must engage and examine our system and processes. These events also made clear that we need to examine parts of our organization where we might not even see overt systemic racism.

We are incredibly proud of the work the team at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic is doing to continue to serve patients and families in the community. We look forward to deepening our commitment to this care by opening our second OBCC in Seattle’s Othello neighborhood in early 2022.

Seattle Children’s Hospital Board of Trustees and executive leaders are announcing today the creation of a new committee to work with an outside independent expert to assess our organization’s anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Participants will include select members of the board including Ken Denman, Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, Susan Mask, Racquel Russell and representatives from the community.

The committee is empowered to hire a nationally recognized and independent expert, with experience reviewing race and equity practices, to conduct a rigorous review of Seattle Children’s. They will examine policies, practices and barriers that get in the way of Children’s becoming an anti-racist and truly equitable and inclusive institution for our patients, families, and workforce.

The assessment will also recommend concrete actions to achieve equity and dismantle systemic racism within our organization.

“I want to first acknowledge that this is painful – for our patients, our community, and for our workforce,” said Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees Chair, Susan Betcher. “Accusations of racism and health inequity cuts to the core of our mission to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.”

“The Board takes its duties of oversight seriously and last night took prompt and definitive action to launch a community and board committee empowered to hire an expert to conduct an independent examination and use those findings to ensure that Seattle Children’s fulfills its mission of being an anti-racist, equitable and inclusive organization.”

“I take any claims of racism very seriously,” said Seattle Children’s CEO, Dr. Jeff Sperring. “Our patients, families and workforce should feel supported and safe, and as an organization we welcome an independent look into where we are on the right path and where we must improve. The leadership team and I will act on the findings and recommendations of this important inquiry.”

Seattle Children’s Trustee and chair of the new committee Colleen Fukui-Sketchley said, “We have a real opportunity to be a part of creating systemic change. By conducting a thorough review and assessment, the committee and the independent expert will set a course for system-wide actions to address racism, diversity, equity and inclusion. This will include where we have been, what we have done and how we plan to move forward.”

The process for selecting an outside expert is already underway and we expect to select that person shortly after the committee is fully formed. 

This is not the beginning of Seattle Children’s work, but we are early on in our anti-racism efforts. We must acknowledge the many great leaders at Seattle Children’s who have been working tirelessly to develop and implement our Anti-racism Organizational Change Plan.

About Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.

Ranked as one of the top children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho – the largest region of any children’s hospital in the country. As one of the nation’s top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children’s Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children’s Foundation works with the Seattle Children’s Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children’s bold initiative – It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children’s – to transform children’s health for generations to come.

For more information, visit seattlechildrens.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or on our On the Pulse blog.