Jane Portman Passes the Torch to Mark Jahnke

The outgoing Board Chair has every confidence in her successor.

On Oct. 21, the Cincinnati Children’s Board of Trustees welcomed Mark Jahnke as its new chair. Jahnke, an attorney and former president and CEO of Katz Teller, succeeds Jane Portman, a trustee since 2004 and the first woman in the medical center’s history to chair the Board.

Described by colleagues as a trailblazer and “one of the warmest, caring human beings,” she has been unafraid to ask the tough questions and is an ardent promoter of systemic change in regard to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Jahnke, who has served on the Board for 8 years, has a reputation for bringing out the best in others and for his astute judgment in helping clients make good business decisions. He has been actively involved in the community as a former member of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber Board and Executive Committee and as chair or co-chair of numerous United Way initiatives.

Both Jahnke and Portman sat down recently to talk about Cincinnati Children’s, what inspires them about our vision and mission and what it means to help lead one of the top-3 pediatric hospitals in the country.

In Her Own Words...Jane Portman

I love this place. Cincinnati Children’s is a special institution, and it’s an honor and a privilege to be part of it. I often say that Cincinnati Children’s is a place of heart, smarts and dedication. We care for the whole child and the whole family; we offer comfort to them; we heal them when they’re sick; we help them thrive when they are healthy, and we make research discoveries that help children here in our own backyard, across the country and around the world. So who wouldn’t want to be part of that?

Former Board Chair Lee Carter invited me to join the Board back in 2004. He is well-known for his saying that we should be the best at getting better, and that continual improvement mindset is so important for ourselves, our processes, our behavior, and our structures.

My immediate predecessor, Tom Cody, had a relentless focus on safety and quality for the patients, families and employees. That is something that starts with the Board. We are responsible for making sure safety is always job number one.

During my tenure, we have focused on diversity and inclusion, but of course, there’s always more work to be done, and we are well aware of that in 2020. We’ve worked on broadening the diversity base on our Board, and I also appreciate Michael Fisher and his Performance Leadership Team for their hard work among our 16,000 employees, whether it’s talking with them about issues they may have had with racism within our own walls, or just making sure everyone has a voice, that they feel heard and welcome.

On other fronts, Cincinnati Children’s has always been very devoted to the cause of mental health, here in Cincinnati and throughout the country. Mental health issues are considered by some to be the polio of the 21st century. It is, and should be, at the top of our list of priorities.

We’ve made significant efforts in developing our services at College Hill, and this year, we received a gift for $36 million to continue improving our facilities and our programs.

I’m also very proud and impressed with the way Cincinnati Children’s has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Michael and his team have responded quickly, efficiently and thoroughly, not only to care for patients who come here, but to work with the community, to partner with the other hospital systems in Greater Cincinnati. It comes as no surprise that we were selected to be part of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. It really is a reflection and extension of what happens here in our research department.

A few years ago, we reconfigured the way the Board was structured and put some succession planning in place. I have all confidence in Mark Jahnke. He’s going to be a great leader. He has a lot of passion for Cincinnati Children’s, and he’s all in on the mission and the vision. He also has a wonderful heart for children.

Meanwhile, I plan to finish out my term as a trustee, which is up in 2022.

I want to say a big, big thank-you to our employees. I am so impressed and proud to walk through the halls of Cincinnati Children’s and see you all working so hard to care for the patients, families and visitors. You are so dedicated and so smart.

There’s something special about our Midwestern appeal, our heart. And because of our expertise and hard work, because of the discoveries that have been made here, people come from all over the world for care. There’s no place like Cincinnati Children’s.

In His Own Words...Mark Jahnke

In the 8 years I’ve been privileged to be a member of the Board at Cincinnati Children’s, I’ve learned an awful lot—about the hospital, healthcare in general, and the role we play in our community.

Everything at Cincinnati Children’s, in my mind, starts with “together.” We change the outcome together. We Pursue Our Potential Together. And our Board is really a collaborative group of people who work to guide the hospital together. So I’m thrilled to have the support of my fellow Board members as I start this great challenge.

My priorities begin with the employees of our organization. We know the patients and families are the people we serve, but we’ve learned that if our employees are in the right place, if they feel the right way about our mission, we will achieve the results we want to achieve with our patients and families. I never cease to be inspired by the amazing people who work here.

We live by outcomes. That’s what the researchers are doing. That’s what bench-to-bedside is all about. That’s what our clinicians are trying for every day and what our employees are dedicated to. They want each patient to have the best outcome possible.

As I look toward our 150th birthday in 2033, I am excited to work with our management team and our employees as we Pursue Our Potential Together so all kids can pursue theirs.

As a long-term supporter and advocate of the United Way and other community efforts, I am passionate about our opportunity to partner with schools, agencies and business leaders to eliminate health disparities, so all kids have the opportunity to thrive.

I am confident that we will re-imagine care, ensuring that all patients have their best outcome and that we will tackle mental health issues so that children will no longer endure that pain. And I hope that along the way, we will inspire others and continue to reach for the stars on any number of things that we didn’t even imagine when we started this journey.

We stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us. We don’t need dramatic, radical change on our Board. We just need to continue to improve. Jane has made such great strides and such great improvements during her tenure as chair. I hope to come close to making similar strides and improvements during mine.

Who Is the Board of Trustees?

The Cincinnati Children’s Board of Trustees is a group of 31 volunteers whose primary role is to represent all of the stakeholders of the institution in stewarding our resources and overseeing the fulfillment of our vision to be the leader in improving child health.

The Board also oversees the work of the CEO and the leadership team and holds them accountable for delivering on the strategic and financial plans, executing with excellence on the clinical, research and education missions, ensuring a vibrant culture and innovating, growing and investing for a strong future.

The Trustees come from all segments of the community and bring with them a wide range of expertise in healthcare, law, business, fundraising, marketing and more. They are united in their passion and dedication to changing the outcome for children in our community and throughout the world.

Our Board Members are:

  • Mark Jahnke, Chair
  • Michael Fisher, President and CEO
  • Sharry P. Addison
  • Carol H. Armstrong
  • Lynwood L. Battle
  • Mark Biegger
  • Alicia Bond-Lewis
  • Chris Browner
  • David Cassady
  • Tina Cheng, MD, MPH
  • Nancy Kreiger Eddy, PhD
  • Thomas M. Finn
  • S. Kay Geiger
  • Beth Guttman
  • Vada Hill
  • Michael A. Hirschfeld.
  • Gary Huffman
  • Joyce Keeshin
  • David P. Osborn
  • Jane Portman
  • Andrew Quinn
  • Timothy Schroeder
  • Susan Shelton
  • Liza D. Smitherman
  • John W. Steinman
  • James J. Vance
  • Daniel von Allmen, MD
  • Hillary Weidner
  • Chiquita White

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