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Message from Leadership: Tom Brennan's Promise Story

Published June 23, 2014

Humility, Simplicity, Charity. I grew up with these values in my home but never really understood where they came from or why they were important.  My promise story started at a young age — not by intention but by relation. In 1981, my father took a job at the Sisters of Providence Health System (as it was called at the time), and that’s when those values started to permeate into my young life.

When it came time to graduate from the University of Washington, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. So, I first looked to my dad to see what he had done for all those years. I understood the titles he had in healthcare management, but I knew little about the role he played.  I learned that in healthcare administration, one could utilize knowledge and skills in a way that could help others on a broader scale to compliment the bedside or exam room. I wasn’t interested in building houses, selling cars, or similar lines of work. It is all noble work, but it didn’t inspire me.  What did inspire me was being able to make a difference in someone’s life. I wasn’t born with the gift to provide healing directly; I was given the talent to analyze lots of information and the perpetual desire to ask, “What if?”  The dreamer in me was called to healthcare strategy and business development.

My work at Providence helps shape who and how we serve in the future. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to participate in strategy planning and present the business plan to our corporate office and broader community. Some of those projects include the Pavilion, Cancer Partnership, Cymbaluk Tower, and Monroe Medical Building — to each I worked on with great pride. My pride is not for my participation in the project but for the caring that has been delivered to the community in each setting. Resources that were once only available in Seattle are now available for our community here. I try to view our strategies through the eyes of our patients and their families. If my loved one was ill, what would I want for them? My promise is to continue to ask, “What if we could make it better for our community, our patients, or our partners?” In my mind, “What if” leads to, “Why not”, which leads to, “How can” and then to, “When will” we make a difference for generations to come.