February 1, 2021 | (49) Comments

It’s an honor to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with all of you. I’m proud to be representing On the Mark for Black History Month, and what a wonderful time it is to truly celebrate, respect, and learn about African American culture and our rich history here in the U.S.

Throughout history, Black men and women have had to fight to overcome adversity. In 2020, we saw reflections of history that we hoped we’d never see again—moments of division and injustice that created a desperate need for change. But what I’ve learned in my own life, is in order to make a change, we have to first look back.

Texas Children’s Hospital opened its doors in 1954, the same year the Civil Rights Movement began. As our organization and the wonderful men and women who worked within these walls were working to care for every child who needed us, there were countless children around the nation who were harmed or witnessed violence against their families, just because of the color of their skin.

When we look back at the history that is often the hardest to hear, we can see how far we have come as a nation and regain the hope that we will overcome again.

As former President Barack Obama said in a 2016 speech, Black History Month is “about the lived, shared experience of all African Americans, high and low, famous and obscure, and how those experiences have shaped and challenged and ultimately strengthened America. It’s about taking an unvarnished look at the past so we can create a better future. It’s a reminder of where we as a country have been so that we know where we need to go.”

As much as many want to forget the past, acknowledging and combatting the true heartbreak of racism is very much a part of Black History Month, and it’s essential that we remember and educate future generations so that history is not repeated.

As an African American woman, I am proud to know where I come from. I am proud to continuously learn about the trials my ancestors overcame. And I am proud to do all I can today to ensure their legacy never fades.

Although we have come so far, our work is not over. In the words of youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman:

“For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter.”

Just as Mr. Wallace said in his most recent blog, we as a nation have come so far in many regards. I myself beamed with pride as I watched Kamala Harris, our nation’s first African American South Asian woman be sworn in as Vice President last month. This is a moment we can all be proud of.

When we think about where we’ve been and where we want to be, just as those who came before us—we will write a new chapter, and we will overcome.

This Black History Month, I ask you to take some time and listen to the stories of the strength and perseverance of our history. Listen to music by Black artists or read a book about Black history. And remember that while the past can be hurtful, the best choice you can make is to learn from it, do better and make a change for tomorrow.

Michelle Riley-Brown
Executive Vice President

January 15, 2021 | (12) Comments

As I’ve watched the events of the past year play out before my eyes, I often think to myself—what would the great leaders who came before us do if they were here today? More often than not, I think about what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say to us about events that have taken place more than half a century after he told the world of his dream.

I believe he would be immensely proud of how far we’ve come in some regards. For instance, in just a few days, Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the first woman Vice President of the United States—and not just the first woman, but the first African American South Asian woman. No matter who you voted for this past November, I think we can all agree that this is progress, which Dr. King would undoubtedly be proud of.

On the other side of progress though, we have also been confronted with how prevalent racism still is in today’s society. The Black Lives Matter protests from this past summer—sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others—forced us to come face to face with the reality of racism we are still encountering decades after Dr. King’s movement.

Dr. King believed in equality for everyone. He fought and rallied tirelessly to ensure that our nation was a place where inclusivity and diversity was not only accepted, it was expected.

Dr. King did not violently fight those who were against him; he educated and peacefully protested the racial unrest that was occurring in his community. He used his power and knowledge to become a profound leader during the civil rights movement, and although I know that I will never fully understand the battles he fought, I want to continue to learn all that I can. Only through this education can I continue to stand up for what Dr. King believed in and ensure that the culture at Texas Children’s reflects his beliefs too.

Our culture is based on equality, inclusivity and compassion, and if we trust in these qualities and continue to not only do what’s right, but also stand up for what’s right, we will create a lasting legacy for the future employees and patients of this great organization.

We will create a generation of leaders who will not stand by and let this division continue to take place.

Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most profound and beautifully written speeches I’ve ever read. If you’ve never read it, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s a message of his fight and passion, yet it is encompassed by peace and love for all.

As we prepare to enter this holiday weekend where we honor the remarkable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all he accomplished, I encourage you to think about what we can each do to be the change to create a world we are proud of. And remember, Dr. King’s reach began in his own community, yet it spread across the world—you never know how far your reach truly is until you make the decision to stand up for what is right.

Because after all, standing up for what is right is exactly where leaders are born.

 

November 23, 2020 | (5) Comments

As we near the end of the year, we can often get swept up in the excitement of the holidays and forget to take the moments we need to be still and reflect. This is a practice I like to do often, but even more so at the end of each year as Shannon and I celebrate Thanksgiving and prepare for a new year.

While I understand reflecting on this past year may be emotional, I believe it is important—now more than ever before—that we do so. No matter what hardships and challenges the past few months have brought our way, there is always something to be thankful for.

I’ve discovered that it is often in the midst of difficult times, when I’m weathering a storm, that I’m able to see all the things that I’m grateful for—things I may have missed in the moment, or overlooked if I had only concentrated on the hardships. For example, as you’ve heard me say many times—this year has been one of the most difficult in Texas Children’s history. Yet through all of the challenges we’ve encountered, I cannot begin to tell you how much we’ve learned, accomplished and grown as an organization.

This year, I have seen collaboration among teams and colleagues unlike ever before, advancement in patient care, and efficient development of plans and adaptability surrounding the newest mandated policies and procedures. I’ve witnessed expansions in programs, grand openings of facilities, and the growth of our community in Austin—all amidst a global pandemic. And most recently, after months of tireless work by our COVID Vaccine Task Force and Operations Command and hospital leadership, I had the privilege of announcing that Texas Children’s is pre-positioned to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming weeks.

Was this year exceptionally difficult? Yes. Did I experience some of the toughest moments I’ve ever had during my time as President and CEO? Yes. But, if we never experience the difficult seasons, we’d never know how strong and resilient we truly are.

We are on the verge of a breakthrough in combating COVID-19, but we cannot stop now. This is the time to remain vigilant.

I ask all of you to continue doing your part in mitigating the spread of the virus. Please avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently, continue to wear your masks at all times and remain vigilant at social distancing. I understand that social distancing from our loved ones during the holiday season will be extremely difficult, but it is what we must do in order to keep them and everyone around us safe and healthy. We have made it so far already, let’s keep it up so we can keep our families and each other safe.

All of you are the reason I’m thankful this year. I am so proud to work alongside some of the greatest people I’ve ever known. We’ve made it this far and I’m confident that we will overcome together—as One Amazing Team.

As you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, please take some time to yourself to be still and reflect on the past year. I promise you that it’s in these moments where you will discover exactly what true gratitude means to you and you may also find your reason to be grateful in the storm.

 

October 12, 2020 | (26) Comments

We’ve officially made it to the last quarter of the year. The weather has cooled down slightly—we’re happy when we get anything below 90 degrees here in Texas—and we’re beginning to see pumpkins, football and the feeling of the holidays coming up around the corner. And this year, we are also nearing a very important and monumental time: Election Day.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3—but early voting in Texas begins today, October 13. I encourage each of you to vote, and vote early if you can.

Voting, both at the local level and for the next leader of our country, is one of the most vital and impactful things you can do for yourself, your family and for future generations. I can’t express enough just how much your vote truly counts. I know it’s easy to convince yourself that your one vote doesn’t really matter, but I promise you it does. There are numerous elections in U.S. history that have come down to a narrow window of electoral votes.

Due to COVID-19 and the increased number of absentee and mail-in ballots, we may not know the winners of our local and national elections when we go to bed on November 3—it may even take a few weeks for the final results to be announced. And because of this, it is more important than ever that we await these results peacefully, and respectfully. We are an institution guided upon equality and inclusivity, and I urge you to practice these principles in the coming weeks both inside and outside of our Texas Children’s doors.

Texas Children’s is filled with some of the most remarkable people I know—passionate and kind people who work every day to care for those around them. I have watched you all treat each other with dignity and respect as we’ve navigated through some of the most challenging times these past few months—you have been true leaders in our community. As we enter this election season, I encourage and ask each of you to please continue leading by example and treating all those around you with kindness.

I’m looking forward to casting my vote and participating in one of the fundamental components of our democracy, and I hope you will join me. No matter who you vote for, I encourage you to take pride in your vote and in our nation, peacefully and respectfully.