Washington Health Alliance Director Mary McWilliams Announces Retirement

washington health alliance

Mary McWiliams, executive director of the Washington Health Alliance, sent out the following email today announcing her plans to retire:

I am writing to inform you that I am planning to retire as Executive Director of the Washington Health Alliance this summer. The timing will depend upon the selection of my successor and the transition needs of the organization, but in the meantime, I remain fully engaged in advancing the work of the Alliance – work that I love.

I am pleased that during the six years of my tenure, the Alliance has become an integral part of the health care community, thanks to a steadfast and committed Board and a small but talented staff.  For example:

  • The Community Checkup report has grown in depth and scope and now includes patient experience.
  • We also report to purchasers on the variation in the buyers’ cost, resource use, and quality of Puget Sound delivery systems.
  • Purchaser members of the Alliance meet regularly to concentrate their efforts and to use Alliance reports to benchmark their own workforce’s experience and to evaluate health plans’ and delivery systems’ performance.
  • Membership in the Alliance has grown, and revenues have increased, due both to member contributions and support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It makes sense at this time to transition to the next Executive Director to lead the Alliance in important expansion of the scope of our work. There are two major projects underway that will take the Alliance into the next phase of its organizational development.

  • The Alliance is building a statewide presence, now with claims data on three million lives from health plans, self-insured employers and labor trusts, and Medicaid.  This fall, we plan to report the Community Checkup at the medical group level in Whatcom, Skagit, and Spokane counties.
  • The state is on the path to building an All Payer Claims Database in partnership with the Alliance under a federal grant and new legislative authority.

These developments offer the promise of expanding the transparency initiatives of the Alliance for even greater impact.

The Alliance has a strong foundation, and it is at an inflection point that is the best time for new leadership for the organization.  Margaret Stanley, the founding Executive Director, remarked that this was the best job she ever had, and I would agree.  I expect many qualified candidates will be interested in this singular leadership opportunity.

It has been a privilege to do this work for the past six years, and I know I will miss the people and the experiences that will continue to propel the organization.  The relationships that are an essential part of this role have been a particular source of satisfaction for me.

I plan to remain in Seattle, active in civic life and health care through board work but without the demands of a full-time executive schedule.  (It’s a Boomer thing.)

I have prior commitments the rest of the week for work out of town following yesterday’s meeting with the Alliance Board when I announced my plans, so I regret that I have to rely on email for this news.  I will be back in the office Monday, March 31.

The Executive Committee will begin the recruitment process shortly, and I know they welcome your suggestions for candidates.