Accomplished Experts

Virginia Mason Institute team members are experienced and accomplished experts in preparing, guiding and inspiring health care leaders to transform health care. As current and former health care executive leaders, physician executives, providers, and high-level managers, and through their success working with health care systems and leaders around the world, our team
has unparalleled knowledge and skill in improving patient safety, patient experience, and the quality, cost, and delivery of health care.

With their background in systems transformation and a foundation in
Virginia Mason’s world-renowned management methodology, our team members’ approach is to partner with health care leaders to achieve sustainable improvement, and to solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems.

Accomplished Experts

Virginia Mason Institute team members are experienced and accomplished experts in preparing, guiding and inspiring health care leaders to transform health care. As current and former health care executive leaders, physician executives, providers, and high-level managers, and through their success working with health care systems and leaders around the world, our team
has unparalleled knowledge and skill in improving patient safety, patient experience, and the quality, cost, and delivery of health care.

With their background in systems transformation and a foundation in
Virginia Mason’s world-renowned management methodology, our team members’ approach is to partner with health care leaders to achieve sustainable improvement, and to solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems.

Meet Our Team


Leadership

Gary Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Health System

Gary Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Virginia Mason Health System, serving in the role since 2000.

Dr. Kaplan received a degree in medicine from the University of Michigan and is board certified in internal medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency at Virginia Mason and served as chief resident in 1980-1981. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, the American College of Medical Practice Executives, and the American College of Physician Executives, and is recognized as one of the most influential physician executives in health care.

He has been honored nationally for his leadership. Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Dr. Kaplan number 42 on its 2018 list of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders in the U.S., marking the 13th time he has been named to this exclusive list. In 2013, he was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, recognizing those who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Gary is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Sarah Patterson, MHA, FACMPE Executive Director and Executive Sensei

Sarah Patterson, MHA, FACMPE, is the executive director of Virginia Mason Institute. In addition, Sarah is an executive sensei who coaches executive teams worldwide to lead lean implementation and transform health care.

Sarah has been a member of the leadership team at Virginia Mason Medical Center for over 30 years, most recently serving as the executive vice president and chief operating officer. She helped Virginia Mason establish its own lean production system to eliminate waste and improve quality and patient safety, and has been on seven study missions to Japan. She has held responsibility for all operations of the clinic and hospital along with the kaizen promotion office, human resources, quality and compliance, facilities and pharmaceutical services.

Sarah has had a long career as a health care executive and brings deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities in the ever-changing health care landscape. Sarah is an expert at teaching, coaching and applying lean processes and techniques. She is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Wendy Korthuis-Smith, Ed.D., M.S. Associate Executive Director

Wendy Korthuis-Smith, Ed.D., M.S., is the associate executive director at Virginia Mason Institute. Wendy provides leadership and oversees the development of new products and services to strategically assess, identify improvement opportunities, develop and implement transformation and transition plans, and continually evaluate continuous improvement for clients worldwide. Wendy holds significant experience developing and implementing large scale transformation and transition plans.

Wendy came to Virginia Mason Institute from Deloitte Consulting, and spent several years prior with the Washington State Governor’s Office where she led state government transformation through the development and implementation of Results Washington, a performance improvement initiative incorporating 53 state government agencies, boards and commissions across five priority goal areas. She worked with Virginia Mason early on in her career as a leadership development consultant.

Wendy is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Gordon Sansaver, MBA Senior Director, Strategy and Operations

Gordon Sansaver, MBA, is the senior director of strategy and operations at Virginia Mason Institute. He provides administration of our finance, information systems, operations, human resources, business development, and communications functions and work groups within the institute. Since joining the institute, he has delivered education and training services to institute clients domestically and in the United Kingdom, helping them eliminate defects, reduce waste and focus all of their health care processes on the patient.

Prior to joining the institute, he provided training and coaching in lean management methods to executive and operational leadership teams and led numerous improvement events, including rapid process improvement workshops (RPIWs), across Virginia Mason in areas such as primary and specialty ambulatory care, inpatient care, emergency care, facilities, supply chain, human resources and finance.

Gordon is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Mary Alida Brisk, MAIS, SHRM-SCP Director of Client Services

Mary Alida Brisk, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, is the director of client services at Virginia Mason Institute. In her role, she provides oversight and strategic talent management to the institute. She also leads development of institute team members who provide education, facilitation, and coaching services to health care organizations worldwide in the areas of organizational transformation, culture change, improvements to quality and safety, efficiency, patient experience and staff engagement.

Before working at Virginia Mason Institute, Mary Alida spent nine years with Seattle Children’s Regional Medical Center, serving as director of talent management, and previously, as director of learning and organizational effectiveness. Prior to that, she worked as a solutions-driven strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies with a focus on large-scale performance improvement.

Mary Alida is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Sensei and Physician/Executive Advisors

Suzanne Anderson, MBA President, Virginia Mason Medical Center

Suzanne Anderson, MBA, is currently the president of Virginia Mason Medical Center, and the executive vice president of Virginia Mason Health System.

Sue helps to oversee all patient care services at the medical center, as well as holding responsibility for finance, human resources, health resource services, information systems and support services, and maintaining the organization-wide focus on continuous improvement. Prior to assuming her role as president in 2016, Sue served as both the chief finance officer and the chief information officer, and was tasked with a diverse range of additional responsibilities. Prior to joining Virginia Mason in 2007, Sue served as vice president and chief operating officer at Meaghan Jared Partners, Inc., a health care management consulting firm.

Sue has been active on several national health care boards and is currently chair of the executive board of the National Board of Medical Examiners. She is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Christopher Backous, MHA Transformation Sensei

Chris Backous, MHA, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. He leads improvement activities, workshops and training for health care leaders and providers worldwide. By embedding innovative methods into the lean concepts he teaches, he works with clients to unlock the revolutionary thinking necessary to transform health care.

In his 3P projects at client sites, he works with health care leaders, architects, medical planners and general contractors to design or redesign ambulatory surgery centers, emergency departments, inpatient and outpatient care environments, urgent care centers, labor and delivery facilities, cancer care facilities and patient safety programs.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Chris led the integration of lean methods into the design of Virginia Mason’s 350,000-square-foot hospital addition, the first environment of its kind to be built from the ground up using the Virginia Mason Production System. He also led numerous improvement events using lean tools and methods to improve health care processes.

Chris is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System® and 3P (Production, Preparation, Process) facilitation.

Full bio

Marlon Borbon, MBA, PT, LSSBB Transformation Sensei

Marlon Borbon, MBA, PT, LSSBB, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. For health care leaders and providers worldwide, he leads numerous improvement events with a focus on cultural transformation and sustainment.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Marlon managed start-up clinics, developed community wellness programs, led process redesigns and integration of complex ambulatory programs with hospital services, and coached physicians and executive leaders in change management.

Marlon is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. He is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and is board certified in health care management as a fellow of the American College and Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

Full bio

Katerie Chapman, MHA Senior Vice President and Hospital Administrator, Virginia Mason Medical Center

Katerie Chapman, MHA, serves as senior vice president and hospital administrator at Virginia Mason Medical Center, a leadership role integrating all clinical and care delivery services along the continuum from primary to acute care. She also has responsibility for Bailey-Boushay House, design, construction and property management, engineering and pharmaceutical services.

Katerie joined Virginia Mason in 2000 and soon began taking on management roles with increasing responsibility including leadership positions for the Heart Institute, perioperative services, and the kaizen promotion office, where she helped initiate the launch of the Virginia Mason Production System®. She has served on the board of directors for King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, the board of trustees of Bloodworks Northwest, and the Northwest Healthcare Response Network board of directors. She currently serves on the board of the Bailey-Boushay House.

Katerie is a Kaizen Fellow graduate and is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Erica Cumbee, MPA Transformation Sensei

Erica Cumbee, MPA, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. Erica trains clients from all over the world to effectively practice lean tools and methods, develops operational leadership emphasizing the importance of acting and thinking in a lean framework, and embeds lean management methodology into health care cultures.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Erica led operations at Virginia Mason Medical Center in patient financial and support services. She also has served as a lean specialist for the organization, where she developed strategic planning in alignment with executive leadership goals, performed evaluation and problem identification in value stream management, led improvement and innovation events, developed and taught lean curriculum, and coached leaders and staff through lean training and certification.

Erica is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®, experience-based design (EBD), training within industry (TWI) and focus group leadership.

Full bio

Celeste Derheimer, MBA, RN, CPHQ Transformation Sensei

Celeste Derheimer, MBA, RN, CPHQ, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In Seattle and at client sites worldwide, she leads multiple improvement activities to increase safety and quality (such as decreasing health care-associated infections), improve administrative processes (such as standardizing organizational planning) and more.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Celeste served as administrative director for corporate quality and safety at Virginia Mason, where she was responsible for organization-wide quality improvement, patient safety programs and initiatives, and operational leadership for employee health, infection prevention and patient education. She also held quality leadership positions in a number of health systems in Washington and Oregon.

Celeste is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. She is also an examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

Full bio

Deborah Dollard, MBA Executive Sensei

Deborah Dollard, MBA, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. She coaches executive teams worldwide to lead lean implementation and transform health care.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Deb worked as an executive lean consultant with John Black and Associates (JBA), where she served as a strategic guide and coach for executive teams, trained leaders, set up kaizen promotion offices (KPOs), coached improvement events and led sustainable, measurable implementations. She has worked with multiple hospitals, including a large, multisite project in Saskatchewan.

Before working with JBA, Deb was an executive with Boeing Commercial Airplanes who deployed lean strategies across multiple disciplines, including sales and marketing, financial analysis, strategic planning, program management and operations. She was instrumental in setting up the organization’s first Quality Improvement Center.

Deb is certified in lean by John Black and Associates and is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Cathie Furman, MHA, RN Executive Sensei

Cathie Furman, MHA, RN, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In her work in Seattle and worldwide, she helps health care executives and leaders understand how a lean method such as the Virginia Mason Production System can dramatically improve safety and quality.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Cathie was one of the executives who took Virginia Mason’s first trip to Japan to learn the benefits of using lean tools and a lean management system. After the trip, she and her executive colleagues led the initiative to adopt the Toyota Production System to health care. She also created and implemented the Patient Safety Alert SystemTM, a groundbreaking method to engage all employees to report any incident or situation that could cause harm to a patient.

Cathie is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Michael Glenn, MD, FACS Chief Medical Officer, Virginia Mason Health System

Michael Glenn, MD, FACS, has been the chief medical officer of Virginia Mason Health System since 2013. Previously, he served as physician-in-chief and medical director of the clinics. He first joined Virginia Mason as an otolaryngology clinician in 1995. He remains clinically active as a head and neck cancer reconstructive surgeon, in addition to his administrative responsibilities.

Michael is active in numerous professional organizations with particular contributions in the areas of physician engagement and leadership development, quality improvement and patient safety. He currently serves as vice-chair of the governing council of the AMA Integrated Physician Practice Section. He has served on the American Academy of Otolaryngology board of directors and as the steering committee chair for the Washington Patient Safety Coalition.

Michael is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Rosemary King, MHA, RN Transformation Sensei

Rosemary King, MHA, RN, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. Her strong passion for delivering extraordinary patient experiences, teaching lean processes and developing staff capabilities is key to her success in educating health care leaders from around the world.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Rosemary was a founding member of Virginia Mason’s Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO), where she worked with leaders and staff throughout the organization to create a system of continuous improvement in which each team’s improvement gains could be sustained. She also managed and provided clinical expertise within perioperative services.

Rosemary is a Kaizen Fellow graduate and is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Chika Lambert, LSSBB Transformation Sensei

Chika Lambert, LSSBB, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In Seattle and around the world, she leads lean improvement activities for health care teams who are committed to transforming their organizations.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Chika was a lean implementation manager at Zodiac Aerospace, where she facilitated continuous improvement activities throughout the organization. As a principal at Lean Manufacturing Translations, she provided education, training, and Japanese and English interpretation services in process improvement to health care, manufacturing, finance and information technology organizations.

Chika, who was educated in Japan and the United States, is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a certified agile scrum master. She is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Melissa Lin, MS, CPHQ, LSSBB Transformation Sensei

Melissa Lin, MS, CPHQ, LSSBB, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. She coaches and guides health care leaders and providers worldwide through their cultural transformation toward lean as their management method.

Her national experience in health care strategy consulting has given her breadth and depth across a number of domains, with a particular focus on strategic planning, board governance and strategic partnerships. She has also led lean training and coaching engagements for small and large hospital groups, implemented organizationwide strategies and spoken at numerous regional and national health care conferences on the impact of a continuous improvement culture.

Melissa is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System® and certified in TapRoot Root-Cause Analysis. With her continuous improvement foundations originating from The Dartmouth Institute of Health Policy and Clinical Practice, where she earned her master’s degree, she is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Certified Professional of Healthcare Quality.

Full bio

Susan Neidig, MBA Executive Sensei

Susan Neidig, MBA, is an executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. Prior to joining the institute, Susan worked as an executive lean consultant with John Black and Associates (JBA), supporting the lean transformation in Saskatchewan healthcare. She served as a strategic guide and coach for executive teams, trained leaders, set up kaizen promotion offices, coached improvement events, and led sustainable, measurable implementations. She was the lead consultant for three provincial level agencies including the Ministry of Health.

Susan joined JBA after a 30-year career at Boeing, which immersed her in a lean journey that began in the 1980s and spanned strategy development, training, process management, and new product development in the services division.

Susan is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Ellen Noel, MN, RN, CPHQ Transformation Sensei

Ellen Noel, MN, RN, CPHQ, is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. Her in-depth knowledge of clinical processes, team development, health care outcomes and regulatory performance provides a solid foundation for an extraordinary customer learning experience.

Prior to her work at Virginia Mason Institute, Ellen worked as an adult clinical nurse specialist and director of quality and safety. As an improvement leader, she led system-level improvement work in medication safety, nursing and care team workflow efficiencies, pain management and patient safety.

Ellen is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®. She is also a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality.

Full bio

Henry Otero, MD Executive and Transformation Sensei

Henry Otero, MD, a medical oncologist, is a transformation and executive sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. In his work with health care leaders and providers, he brings a valuable provider perspective that resonates with organizations seeking to increase safety, quality and efficiency and achieve zero-defect health care.

Dr. Otero has led numerous process improvement events at Virginia Mason and client sites, specializing in improving physician and executive engagement, creating ambulatory flow, and training in Virginia Mason’s lean tools and methods.

Dr. Otero is a Kaizen Fellow graduate certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Stephen Rupp, MD Emeritus Anesthesiologist, Virginia Mason Health System

Stephen Rupp, MD, is an emeritus anesthesiologist with a distinguished career as medical director of perioperative and procedural services at Virginia Mason Health System. He also served as the chief of the anesthesiology department at Virginia Mason from 1992 through 2009.

Dr. Rupp was the chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists task force on development of guidelines for central venous access and is a past president of the Association of Anesthesiology Core Program Directors. He was also a core faculty member for the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ Annual Quality Management meeting (2013-2016). He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Michigan. His internship, residency in anesthesiology and research fellowship in neuromuscular pharmacology were completed at the University of California in San Francisco.

Dr. Rupp is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Kathy Shingleton, MBA, Ed.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP VP of HR, Virginia Mason Health System

Kathy Shingleton, MBA, Ed.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the vice president for human resources at Virginia Mason Health System, serving in her role since 2011.

As a strategic health care human resources executive, Kathy oversees the implementation and management of innovative solutions to workforce challenges in order to drive positive organizational change. Her expertise includes employing lean management strategies to maximize human capital, aligning employee passions with organizational goals, physician engagement, talent acquisition and management, creating mutually beneficial community partnerships, innovative solutions to talent recruitment and retention, and succession planning. In addition, Kathy has extensive experience facilitating leadership development programs, providing executive coaching, and performing human resource assessments and audits.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason, Kathy served in both the public and private sectors, working for MD Anderson Cancer Center, the City of Houston, Boehringer Mannheim Diagnostics, Inc., and the University of Texas Medical Brand (UTMB).

Kathy is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Rhonda Stewart Transformation Sensei

Rhonda Stewart is a transformation sensei at Virginia Mason Institute. At organizations worldwide, she leads health care leaders to build a lean culture and coaches them to set up a solid infrastructure to support lean implementation and organizational learning — always with a focus on patients.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Rhonda was a director in the revenue and performance reporting department, immersed in applying lean methods in the areas of health care accounting, budgeting and analytics.

Rhonda is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio

Charleen Tachibana, DNP, RN, FAAN SVP and CNO, Virginia Mason Health System

Charleen Tachibana, DNP, RN, FAAN, serves as the senior vice president for quality and safety and the chief nursing officer of Virginia Mason Health System. She has served on the executive team at Virginia Mason for the past 15 years, and has extensive experience leading professional teams to deliver high quality and cost-effective care through the application of the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Charleen has lectured and consulted internationally on the application of the principles and methods of the Toyota Production System to health care and to nursing. In addition to her advisory position at Virginia Mason Institute, she also serves as faculty for the University of Washington, the University of Washington Bothell, Pacific Lutheran University and Vanderbilt University.

Charlene is certified in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Client Experience

Matt Cuellar Client Experience

Matt Cuellar is on the client experience team at Virginia Mason Institute. He works with clients from around the world to help them meet their needs as they implement and sustain lean methodology at their health care organizations.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Matt worked as a sales manager for a start-up medical device company, helping them take advanced robotics technology from design concept to FDA approval and market adoption.

Matt is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

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Susanna Garritano Client Experience

Susanna Garritano is on the client experience team at Virginia Mason Institute. She works with clients from around the world to help them meet their needs as they implement and sustain lean methodology at their health care organizations.

Prior to joining Virginia Mason Institute, Susanna led client operations for a national team at the American Express Company.

Susanna is trained in the Virginia Mason Production System®.

Full bio