Messages to Michael

Michael Fisher's departure as president and CEO of Cincinnati Children's prompted members of his leadership team to share their congratulations and memories of how he inspired them.

It has been a privilege to work under Michael’s leadership. He involved me and other division directors in building a wall-less, highly collaborative environment in the medical center. He invited us to present ideas and aspirations to the board and created mechanisms to fuel the expansion of novel clinical programs (“Growth Program”) and research innovations (“ARC Program”). He expanded the intramural resources to support the career of junior faculty, innovative projects, and project renewals. Representing the GI Division, I recognize the value of his support that catalyzed our growth of clinical, research, and educational programs. He knew our faculty by their first names. He made us feel valued and empowered to seek the best possible means to improve the outcome of children with digestive disease.

Jorge Bezerra, MD, director, Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

I remember meeting Michael Fisher for the first time during a site visit to Cincinnati Children’s when I became Chair of Pediatrics at Hopkins. He may not remember the meeting, but I was impressed with his sincere commitment to the mental and physical health of all children and responsibility to the community. Four years later when the Cincinnati Children’s Chair of Pediatrics/CMO/Research Foundation director position was advertised, I remembered our previous conversation and the unique opportunity that the medical center provides to innovate and truly change outcomes for children. Coming to Cincinnati Children’s a year ago amid a pandemic and much change, one regret is that I will not have the continuing benefit of Michael’s leadership to change outcomes.

During the recruitment process, I remember a dinner with him at “his office,” Nicola’s Restaurant, when I asked him if he was planning to continue in his position. This is where our versions of the conversation may diverge. 😊 Perhaps it was my wishful thinking that I thought he said he was planning to stay on for a while. Of course, all of that was pre-COVID.

Michael and I share a deep commitment to health equity, and I am grateful that he plans to stay involved. I have no doubt he we will be always working for excellent and equitable outcomes for all children, adolescents and families.

It has been my good fortune to learn from him and wish him and his family all the best in his next phase.

Tina Cheng, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer

I will miss working with Michael. Although he did not come from a healthcare or science background, he was an extremely effective leader of an elite children’s hospital and research enterprise. He understood what Cincinnati Children’s stood for and had a work ethic and drive that was completely aligned with our mission, vision and values. When problems arose, he took the time to understand the issues with all stakeholders. When we met to discuss challenges for the Heart Institute, it was clear he had done his “homework” and understood all the moving parts. He would listen earnestly to the options put forth and offer up his own well-thought-out options. The mark of an effective leader is to make decisions based on the accepted vision and mission of the organization. Decisions should be transparent and justifiable with clear goals and expectations.

James Tweddell, MD, Institute director, Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery

Michael, As I reflect upon your tenure as our CEO, it would be easy to focus on the vast accomplishments of our organization over the past 12 years. And yet, what I personally find most inspiring is the example you have set in translating your values into your leadership. Whether it is the discernment of what is in the best interest of our patients or staff or the asking for forgiveness from those you have slighted, you have always been courageously transparent that it is your ideals that drive your actions. And so while we can celebrate what we have achieved, I want to honor you for the how and why we have achieved them. You are truly a leader and person of integrity, faith, and character.

With sincere appreciation,

Dave Krier, vice president, Access Service and Family Relations

Michael, Thanks for all the support you gave to me over the past years in my roles of Chief Pharmacy Officer and vice president. This support was invaluable in my development as a leader at Cincinnati Children’s. Your leadership is an example of what individuals should aspire to. Enjoy your retirement!

Dave Mayhaus, MS, PharmD, vice president, Patient Services/Allied Health

Michael, I have only had the pleasure of working with you for a bit less than a year. Every interaction with you reinforces my decision to come to Cincinnati. Every aspect of this place you described during my interview process is exactly how it actually operates. As I have said, “Together is far more than a tag line—we live it.” This is in no small part due to your open and thoughtful leadership style.

With deepest respect.

Paul Jenny, Chief Financial Officer

I’ve been so fortunate to work with Michael for the majority of my career at Cincinnati Children’s. I’ve seen Michael as an incredibly inspirational, energetic and compassionate leader. His guidance in driving our teams to serve our patients and families so that they return home with the best possible outcome and experience is evident and respected. His words and actions have prioritized safety as a foundational principle for our organization.

Additionally, Michael understands and appreciates the challenges our frontline staff face when caring for our highly acute patient population. He has been visible, mindful, and supportive of the Patient Services team and has, in turn, gained their respect.

I am so grateful to have worked with Michael over the years. He has been a tremendous mentor to many of us and made us better leaders.

Barb Tofani, MSN, RN, senior vice president, Patient Services

Michael, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to lead the Department of Anesthesiology and to be an institutional leader. Your guidance and support has been key to my growth as a leader and as a person. Keeping your faith in me after my health event meant the world to Judy and me. You helped me navigate an uncertain time. The life and leadership lessons you taught, that will remain with me are:

• Put others first. • Be grateful. • Create unity. • Do the right thing.

On a lighter note, four other inspiring words are “the bar is open.” Hopefully, those words can be said in-person in the near future. Thank you for four great years working with you.

With gratitude, appreciation, and wishing you every blessing and happiness in your new stage of life’s journey,

John McAuliffe III, MD, MBA

P.S. I will always remember going on rounds with you, watching how you connected with employees wherever we went. You took the time to ask how they were doing and was there anything they needed. Cincinnati Children’s accomplished many great things under your leadership. The enduring legacy will be the way you connected with the people you encountered every day.

Michael is an inspirational leader and someone for whom I have great respect. Throughout Michael’s time as our president and CEO, it was clear his true north in all decisions was what is best for the employees of Cincinnati Children’s and the patients and families we have the privilege to serve. Thank you, Michael, for showing me that a true leader is honest and transparent and that it is also okay to be vulnerable and show your humanity. Thank you also for sharing your talents and compassion for kids and the community to make our amazing organization even better.

Carolyn Karageorges, vice president, Office of the CFO

When I think of Michael, I think of a senior leader who is approachable, articulate, classy, committed to patients and families along with the staff. I have heard various stories of him reaching out to people who have had significant health issues and loss or to celebrate great outcomes and contributions. I have been fortunate to receive a few nice notes or verbal acknowledgement over the years, which is greatly appreciated. Michael is proof that great accomplishments come to those willing to sacrifice and lead an organization to achieve ambitious strategic goals. Words cannot express the difference you have made and will continue to make in your next endeavors. Best wishes in retirement!

Jackie Hausfeld, MSN, RN, vice president, Patient Services

Michael, Thank you for your leadership and support over the past several years. You have always inspired us to be better by keeping us connected to the mission and each other. Cincinnati Children’s patients, families and staff have all benefited from your strong will and determination. Thank you for being there for ALL OF US!

Whittney Brady, DNP, RN, vice president, Patient Services

Michael, Thank you for your tireless commitment to children, community, Cincinnati Children’s and its employees and staff, and to the patients and families we all serve. Thank you for your humor, your unfailing positive attitude, and years of service. You are authentic and passionate, kind and compassionate. Thank you for being you.

Beth Stautberg, senior vice president, Legal and Public Affairs

Michael, In October 2009, I stood next to the new CEO as the brand-new director of the Division of General Surgery at a welcoming event. He kindly asked how I was feeling, and I told him I was a bit intimidated, and his response was, “Tell me about it.”

Well, Michael, over the past 12 years, I have benefited personally, and the institution has benefited greatly from your leadership. You have taken on everything from the continued growth of the organization and evolution of our culture to navigating through a once-in-a-100-year pandemic. Through this time, your grace, equanimity, and measured demeanor has served us all amazingly well.

You have had the vision to undertake bold new initiatives like the Proton Center and the Critical Care Building. These things all position us well to remain the most elite of the elite children’s hospitals. More importantly, you have led the culture of the organization to evolve in a way that preserves the collaborative, intimate spirit that I believe is our secret sauce and yet begins to hold us accountable for diversity, inclusion, and accountability. And that started with enabling the work necessary to create a strong, aligned the leadership team. I have never set foot in a real shell, but the Boys in the Boat has allowed me to learn important lessons about being a team player. I certainly hope the oar stays on the conference room wall as a reminder to us all.

For me personally, you have given me opportunity, supported me, and given me a perspective I would otherwise not have learned. You have provided me the resources and space to be successful at my dream job. Had anyone told me as a pediatric surgery fellow in 1995 that I would ever have this opportunity, I would never have believed it. I can never thank you enough for giving me this chance to have the best job there is in pediatric surgery.

I have enjoyed both our professional and personal relationship and hope that at some point you will enjoy an Uncle Nearest to celebrate everything you have provided to me and Cincinnati Children’s.

Dan von Allmen, MD, Surgeon-in-Chief

I’ll never forget having breakfast at the Sleepy Bee with Michael. I was pretty nervous, but Michael was his usual approachable self. I so appreciate the genuine interest Michael took in my career path and the encouragement he provided. I remember telling him how much it meant to me to hear him speak about an interaction he had with a faculty member, shortly after he became CEO, which he shared with the broader faculty in the context of a chair search. The candor of that moment was just what was needed. On another occasion, Michael gave me constructive feedback following a presentation to the Board of Trustees, and I so appreciated the direct and kind manner with which he did so.

During COVID, I got to witness firsthand Michael’s values in action—supporting our employees in clear, uncomplicated ways; leaning into transparency; remaining calm in the face of tremendous uncertainty; empowering leaders to do what they needed to do.

Probably my favorite Michael memory happened recently and incorporates his love of music (which I love!). We were filming a Minutes with Michael, in late September, and he looked at me, out of the blue, and said “Wake up Patty, I think I’ve got something to say to you!” with a big smile on his face. In the moment, I didn’t get the reference, which is not like me, given how much I love music and lyrics (and I was too embarrassed to tell him I didn’t get it!). As I was walking down the stairs, it hit me, and I burst out laughing, and started singing Maggie May out loud. It was a perfectly timed lyric!

I am so grateful to have worked with Michael during this most challenging time in healthcare and for so much of my career at Cincinnati Children’s. His genuine care for children shines through. We are a better place because of his leadership.

Patty Manning-Courtney, MD, Chief of Staff

Dear Michael, It has been an honor to be at Cincinnati Children’s during your 10 year tenure as our “Boss.” You have led us through transformational change in establishing a Safety Culture that is second to none, and in the process, you have led the institution through unprecedented times with unprecedented success!

Best wishes for all that lies ahead,

Francesco Mangano, DO, Chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery

Michael, It has been an honor and pleasure to work with you for the past 11 years.

You have been a role model for how a leader should approach and solve complicated and complex problems, how to build a team that both works well and cares for each other, and the importance of frequent and clear communication throughout the organization. You always stressed the importance of focusing on our patients, their families, and our employees while remembering to take care of ourselves.

I will miss our meetings together but will keep the lessons learned forever.

Thank you!

Tracy Glauser, MD, associate director, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation

Dear Michael It doesn’t seem like 7 years ago that you told me to make my mind up and come to Cincinnati!

Those years have flown by, but your engagement with, and support for, the Heart Institute has been unwavering throughout.

Thanks for all you have done, personally and on behalf of the HI, and best wishes for the next phase of your life.

Andrew Redington, MD, executive co-director, The Heart Institute

Michael, First and foremost, congratulations on your retirement! I wanted to personally thank you for your continued leadership while here at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. I have watched you continue to show true leadership in our Core Values. Your continued involvement and support of the local community here in Cincinnati has gone a long way and has created a great view of Cincinnati Children’s. You are leaving behind a legacy, not only for our local community, but for our country and world. Location G is a prime example of your vision and legacy for children all around the world to see. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and retirement.


Jim Burger, vice president, Facilities

Michael, It has been a unique pleasure to have partnered with you these past 11 years to make Cincinnati Children’s more affordable for the children and families we serve. As we have worked to insure we are adequately paid for our services, you have kept us grounded on how every decision we make regarding our prices and how we are paid impacts children and their families. Your focus on our mission and our responsibility to the community we serve has been—and continues to be—inspirational to all of us throughout Cincinnati Children’s. We will carry on this work a part of your legacy.

Mike Taylor, vice president, Pricing and Reimbursement

Michael, Thank you for the support you provided throughout your time at Cincinnati Children’s, for the guidance you offered when times were tough and, most importantly, for the compassion you displayed time and time again. You will be missed, but I offer my congratulations to you on your retirement. With that goes my heartfelt good wishes for the many years of rewarding experiences in the future. This is a new season to embark on and enjoy to the fullest.

Bob Carpenter, vice president, General Counsel and SRO

When I accepted the role of Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer at Cincinnati Children’s, the opportunity to work for and with Michael was an important factor, not knowing that he would be on leave for my first five months. While his absence reinforced that I was coming for the role and the opportunity to be a part of this mission, I was delighted that Michael was able to return, and since the Fall of 2018, I have had the pleasure of really working with and getting to know him. It is a special CEO who is skilled, and comfortable, in genuinely connecting across populations, from kids and parents to community residents and leaders, to all levels of our employees and partners. Michael’s passion for our missions, relentless focus on positively impacting the communities we serve, active advocacy for elevating our culture, and unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion contribute to his legacy of 12 years of making a difference. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with him.

Nerissa Morris, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer

Dear Michael, It has been an absolute pleasure working with you these past several years at Cincinnati Children's. You have been an excellent role model of professionalism, continuous improvement, unwavering high standards, community leadership, advocacy, outcomes, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. I was fortunate to present to you during your days on the board at our former Capital Committee and was even able to take you on a behind-the-scenes tour in the days prior to your official start as our CEO. From the beginning, you have always been inquisitive and engaging. Thank you for treating me like a peer and valued team member, whether it was in the design of your first office or in the planning and delivery of the Critical Care Building. Warmest wishes to you and your family in your next chapter.


Michael Browning, vice president, Planning and Construction

Michael, Under your leadership for the last 12 years, we have grown safer and better together and are making strides to be the world's premier innovative and equitable pediatric health provider. While expanded research facilities, a new critical care building, and improved community relationships will be a part of your legacy, more important will be your legacy of mentorship, thoughtful counsel, and humanity. Thank you and enjoy your next adventure.

Brian Coley, MD, Radiologist-in-Chief

As a scientist and research stakeholder here, Michael truly embraced the unique academic mission of our campus, which sets us apart from all but a very small handful of other pediatric institutions in America. While Michael redefined the very culture and mission around effectively treating sick children, he was also an unrelenting supporter of the other key aspect of our mission, that of attempting to find new cures and treatments for childhood diseases. Research activity, space and extramural funding expanded more than two-fold under Michael's leadership, and this legacy alone will surely generate countless dividends that continues to impact childhood health for decades to come.

Jeff Molkentin, PhD, director, Molecular Cardiovascular Biology

I’ll always appreciate Michael’s willingness to take on safety—a topic that was not always at the forefront of thinking in healthcare. Michael had the courage to directly address the issue and positively impact safety culture here at Cincinnati Children’s and spread that movement to other children’s hospitals as well. Today, our patients and their families are in a better place thanks to his leadership.

Jim Greenberg, MD, co-director, Perinatal Institute

Michael Fisher kept family, community and safety ever present at Cincinnati Children’s during challenging times, these serving as guideposts to ensure the care of children here and everywhere.

Jeff Whitsett, MD, co-director, Perinatal Institute

Dear Michael, Thank you for all you have done for CCHMC and beyond. Your impact will be everlasting, and you have truly contributed to tikkun olam. This photo remains in my office.

Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, director, Allergy and Immunology

When I first came to Cincinnati Children’s to interview for the job of COO, Michael took me to dinner at Boca afterward, and instead of asking me about what I had accomplished, he spent time getting to know me as a person, a husband, a father. I asked him similar questions, and he let me look under the hood, so to speak. It was a transparent conversation, one that impressed me very much. I went back to the hotel, called my wife and said, “I just met my new boss if I’m lucky enough to be offered the job. Michael is someone I know I can work for.”

Thank you, Michael, for your leadership and for positioning Cincinnati Children’s to accomplish even bigger things.

Steve Davis, MD, Chief Operating Officer

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