An independent review of efforts to combat systemic racism, and to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at Seattle Children’s
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The Assessment Committee was created by the Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees to oversee an independent review of efforts to combat systemic racism, and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion at Seattle Children’s, including the issues raised by Dr. Ben Danielson.
After a competitive process, the Assessment Committee chose former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, and a team from Covington & Burling LLP, to lead an independent review of Seattle Children’s. Covington will conduct a thorough examination of Seattle Children’s policies, practices, and procedures, and will review all relevant information from current and former members of the workforce, patients, families, members of the community and other stakeholders. The Assessment Committee expects Covington to engage broadly to understand the nuanced experiences of communities that Seattle Children’s serves, and to take an intentionally inclusive and holistic approach to ensure that all voices are heard, particularly those from historically marginalized and vulnerable populations.
To protect privacy and promote an environment most conducive to full and frank sharing of information by current and former members of Seattle Children’s workforce, its patients and families, the community and stakeholders, all information provided to Covington and the Assessment Committee will be kept strictly confidential. To ensure the protection of this information, the members of the Assessment Committee have signed confidentiality agreements.
Anyone with information they believe is relevant to the review should contact Covington directly at:
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Physical MailSeattle Children's
c/o Covington & Burling LLP
1999 Avenue of the Stars, 35th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067
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Covington will review all emails and information received as a part of their independent review. Covington is able to conduct interviews in multiple languages and review and analyze information provided in multiple languages. Seattle Children’s will allow any current or former member of its workforce who is subject to a non-disparagement or confidentiality agreement to provide any information to Covington, or to be interviewed by Covington confidentially and without restriction, if they choose to do so.
Covington will conduct the review of Seattle Children’s, and make findings and recommendations. At the end of the review, Covington will present its findings and recommendations to the Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees, which will also receive the Assessment Committee's perspectives and learning. The Board will then report to the community and stakeholders. The recommendations will be implemented by Seattle Children’s CEO, under the direction and oversight of the Board of Trustees.
Assessment Committee Members
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Colleen Fukui-SketchleyChair - - - -
Colleen is the head of Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity at HashiCorp and has been committed to building inclusive environments in the retail and technology industries as well as the public and private sectors. She is a Seattle Children's Board Trustee.
Ken Denman- - - - -
Ken is a Partner at Sway Ventures and Board Member for Costco Wholesale, Motorola Solutions and VMware, as well as a University of Washington Foundation Board Member. Ken is a Seattle Children’s Board Trustee.
Abigail Echo-Hawk- - - - - -
Abigail is a Citizen of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. She is Executive Vice President for the Seattle Indian Health Board and Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute.
Governor Gary Locke- - - - -
The former Washington State Governor, U.S. Commerce Secretary and Ambassador to China, Gary is Interim President at Bellevue College.
Frankie Manning, MSN, RN- - - - -
Frankie is a Retired Chief Nurse Executive, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and Army Nurse. Since retiring, Frankie has volunteered for numerous boards and community groups. Her nursing career spans over six decades.
TJ McGill- - - - -
TJ is Co-Chair of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic Capital Campaign. He is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Evergreen Pacific Partners, a Northwest based firm focused on investing in middle market companies in Western North America.
Racquel Russell- - - - -
Racquel is Vice President of Partner Success within the Zillow Premier Agent division. A former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama, she focused on building and advancing the President’s agenda on urban affairs and economic opportunity. She is a Seattle Children’s Board Trustee.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How will information about the review be provided to stakeholders and the community?
A: This Q&A will be updated throughout the review to provide information about the Assessment Committee’s progress and significant milestones in its work. The information below describes the scope of the Committee’s work, the composition of the Committee, and contact information for Eric Holder’s team at Covington & Burling LLP, so that anyone with relevant information can provide it to Covington directly.
In order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those in the community and members of the Seattle Children’s workforce who provide information about their experiences at Seattle Children’s, neither the Assessment Committee nor Covington will disclose publicly who they spoke with or what information was communicated to them. To ensure the protection of this information, the members of the Assessment Committee have signed confidentiality agreements.
At the end of the review, Covington will present its findings and recommendations to the Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees, which will also receive the Assessment Committee's perspectives and learning. The Board will then report to the community and stakeholders.
This Q&A and all Assessment Committee statements can be found at this website. We will make this “living” Q&A document available in multiple languages and utilize digital and analog format for outreach and communication. We will also share this Q&A and other Assessment Committee materials:
- On Seattle Children’s social media channels.
- Via email to all employees
- To local media, including print, digital, TV, and radio
- Directly to community groups
We encourage community members to suggest additional outlets for distribution. Suggestions can be sent to SCHAssessment@Cov.com.
Q: What is the scope of the review? Is it limited to the allegations of Dr. Ben Danielson and focused on racial discrimination?
A: The Assessment Committee and Covington will evaluate (1) Dr. Danielson’s allegations and (2) Seattle Children’s systems, policies, and practices to make findings and recommendations to address any issues of racism or racial inequality, diversity, or inclusion. To be clear, this is not an investigation of Dr. Danielson. It is an evaluation of the representative nature of his allegations.
One focus of the review will be to understand the experiences of people of color at Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown. This will include an examination of diversity, equity and inclusion, prior and existing efforts to combat racism at Seattle Children’s, and any opportunities to address those areas of concern or promote health equity.
Q: What is the status of the review?
A: In January, the Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees formed an Assessment Committee composed of three members of the board and four members of the community to oversee the review of Seattle Children’s. The Assessment Committee engaged former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct this evaluation. Covington began working immediately and has been meeting regularly with the Committee to advise it about the progress of their work.
Covington has begun analyzing Seattle Children’s policies and practices related to diversity, equity, inclusion, health equity and anti-racism and will continue to gather data and information about these topics in the weeks ahead. Covington has also begun interviewing individuals who may have information relevant to the review, including those within Seattle Children’s workforce as well as former employees and members of the community.
Q: How will Covington ensure that its assessment incorporates expertise in health equity?
A: To provide expert analysis and recommendations regarding health disparities and healthcare equity within the Seattle Children’s Hospital network, Covington has retained Dr. Joseph Wright, MD, MPH, who serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Capital Region Health within the University of Maryland Medical System. Dr. Wright is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), where he chaired the Task Force on Addressing Bias and Discrimination. Dr. Wright previously served as Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine, and as Senior Vice President within the Children's National Health System.
Dr. Wright has also worked extensively in the area of addressing health disparities and establishing anti-bias and equity agendas in the healthcare space. In addition to working on the AAP's bias and antidiscrimination task force, Dr. Wright has served on the DC Commission on Health Equity, published several academic papers on equity and disparities in the provision of healthcare, and spoken extensively on the topic at professional events.
In consultation with Covington, Dr. Wright will assess relevant Seattle Children's policies and procedures, data collection efforts, and related materials relevant to the issue of healthcare equity, including identification and reference to best practice models where appropriate.
Q: What additional outreach will Covington undertake to seek input from employees and patient families?
A: With the assistance of an outside consultant, Covington will convene anonymous virtual focus groups for employees and for patient families to solicit their input on issues relating to their experience with Seattle Children's Hospital. Invitations to participate in the focus groups will be sent in April directly from Covington. Participation in the focus groups will be kept confidential, and responses will be anonymous. Several hundred employees and patient families will have the opportunity to participate.
Q: How long will the review of Seattle Children’s last? Is there a deadline or timetable for the process?
A: The Assessment Committee hopes to deliver Covington’s findings and recommendations to the Board of Trustees before the end of June. The Committee’s priority is for Covington’s work to be done thoroughly and rigorously, but as quickly as possible. Covington’s work is already underway and the Committee encourages anyone with relevant information—including current and former members of the workforce, current and former patients, families, and members of the community—to contact Covington as early in the review as possible. There is no deadline for providing information to the Committee but it is helpful to receive it sooner rather than later.
Q: Who can provide information to Covington for this review? Is it limited to current and former employees? Are patients, family members and members of the community allowed to share their experiences?
A: All members of the community—whether they are current or former members of the workforce at Seattle Children’s or Odessa Brown, patients, former patients, or family members—are encouraged to provide any information they believe is relevant to Covington’s review. Covington has already started to meet with and receive information from current and former employees of Seattle Children’s and Odessa Brown and members of the community and other stakeholders. The Committee encourages anyone with relevant information to contact Covington.
Q: Covington plans to interview anyone who believes they have relevant information to share about their experience at Seattle Children’s or Odessa Brown that concerns systemic racism and diversity, equity and inclusion. Is there a limit on the number of people that Covington will interview?
A: No. Covington welcomes information from anyone who believes they have relevant information to share. That information can be provided by email, written correspondence or provided in a voicemail message. All information and sources of information will be treated confidentially. Contact information for the Covington team is below.
Q: Some former members of the workforce might have important information to share but may be concerned about saying anything because of non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses in their separation agreements. How do you expect people to share information with these non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses in effect?
A: Seattle Children’s has agreed to waive any such provisions for purposes of cooperating with Covington’s review. Some former members of the workforce signed voluntary separation agreements upon their departure from Seattle Children’s which included “non-disclosure” or “non-disparagement” clauses that prevent them from saying anything negative about Seattle Children’s. While it is standard to include these clauses in voluntary separation agreements, it is important to ensure they don’t prevent individuals from coming forward to share information relevant to this review. To address this concern, Seattle Children’s has agreed that any former member of the workforce who is subject to a non-disclosure or non-disparagement clause will be permitted to provide information to Covington for its review.
Anyone impacted by a non-disclosure or non-disparagement clause who wants to provide information to Covington should contact Covington at the email or phone number below. Covington will work with Seattle Children’s to obtain a signed limited waiver permitting cooperation with Covington’s review.
Q: How can current employees of Seattle Children’s or Odessa Brown or members of the workforce more broadly be assured that their cooperation with the review conducted by Covington will not result in retaliation?
A: Covington has established several channels through which employees can report information directly to the Covington team, without Seattle Children’s knowledge. Because Seattle Children’s management is not Covington’s client or supervising the assessment or Covington’s work, Covington will not be reporting to Seattle Children’s the identity of individuals who have reached out to them.
Also, Seattle Children’s policies prohibit retaliation against employees who report concerns in good faith or participate in reviews. Any employee who is found to have engaged in retaliation is subject to discipline, including potential termination of employment.
Q: Why is the review being called “independent” if Covington is working for Seattle Children’s? How can we trust the process will be fair?
A: Covington was hired by the Assessment Committee and only the Assessment Committee will oversee Covington’s work. Because the Assessment Committee is a committee of Seattle Children’s Board of Trustees, Seattle Children’s has agreed to pay Covington’s fees on behalf of the Assessment Committee. No member of Seattle Children’s management, including the CEO, will have any role in directing Covington’s work. Likewise, the Assessment Committee does not work for or report to anyone in Seattle Children’s management, including the CEO.
Q: The Assessment Committee statement talks about systemic racism, but it doesn’t say anything about discrimination against other underrepresented groups (based, e.g., on gender, gender identity, LGBTQ, disability, veteran status). Will other underrepresented groups be included in this review?
A: This evaluation will evaluate (1) Dr. Danielson’s allegations and (2) Seattle Children’s systems, policies, and practices in order to make findings and recommendations to address any issues of racism or racial inequality, diversity, or inclusion. In the interest of doing a thorough and timely review of those issues, the assessment is focused on those subjects.
Q: If I want to share my experience at Seattle Children’s or Odessa Brown because it relates to issues of systemic racism, diversity, equity or inclusion, or to the allegations made by Dr. Ben Danielson about Seattle Children’s or Odessa Brown, how do I provide that information?
A: Please contact Covington & Burling LLP directly by email, phone or in writing to provide any information you believe is relevant to the review.
Q: Can former patients or families of patients, who have signed non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements with Seattle Children’s, participate in Covington’s investigation without their identities being disclosed?
A: Yes. Seattle Children’s has agreed to waive any non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreements for purposes of participating in Covington’s review. As noted above, this is also true for former employees of Seattle Children’s. Covington has instituted a process through which it will obtain a formal waiver from Seattle Children’s without disclosing the name and identity of the person(s) seeking the waiver. Interested person(s) should contact Covington at the email, phone number, or mailing address below.
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c/o Covington & Burling LLP
1999 Avenue of the Stars, 35th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Announcements and Press Releases
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1.30.21: Seattle Children’s Assessment Committee Work is Underway; Committee Provides Process for Sharing Information
1.14.21: Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of Covington & Burling to lead examination of institutional racism, equity, inclusion, and diversity practices at Seattle Children’s