rileybrown michelleBy Sara Gilgore – Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal - 

It was her mother’s 86th birthday when Michelle Riley-Brown received a call that would change the trajectory of her career.

Holding the phone to her ear in her Houston home on March 3, 2023, the veteran health executive learned she was not only the first woman — but the first African American woman — to be named president and CEO of Children’s National Hospital in D.C.

The New Orleans native and youngest of five siblings — four of whom went into health care — immediately thought of her late father, a general surgeon who dedicated his life to medicine.

It’s that legacy she intends to uphold from the top slot for the pediatric nonprofit and its 8,000 employees and $1.9 billion revenue budget for 2024. She’s now more than six months in — and halfway through — what she’s calling her “look, listen and learn tour” to assess Children’s National’s finances, workforce, technology, capital projects and processes to figure out what’s working, and what’s not.

On her to-do list: evaluate the system’s real estate portfolio, nail down how to further develop its Research and Innovation Campus at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, make sure the organization has “a sturdy workforce” and get the word out about all the health system is doing.

She comes armed with 24 years of experience at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the country’s largest pediatric hospital. Most recently as executive vice president, she oversaw two acute-care facilities, plus strategic planning, acquisitions, quality performance and clinical operations, philanthropy and marketing.

“But when this opportunity came up at Children’s National Hospital,” she says, “it was one that I just couldn’t pass up.”

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