We at EHF are excited to launch a new monthly series highlighting our fabulous Board of Directors! Our first featured board member is Sue Lani Madsen, founding board member and former Board Chair. Take a look at our interview with Sue Lani below!
Featured Board Member: Sue Lani Madsen
Who are you and what do you do?
Sue Lani W. Madsen
Architect, rancher, writer (and a whole bunch of other hats, depending on the day)
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Spokane, attended Washington State University in Pullman, and moved to the Reardan/Edwall community in eastern Lincoln County after graduating with a degree in architecture. For 19 years, I commuted to work in Spokane five days a week while my family enjoyed small town living seven days a week. In 1997, I left the large architectural company I was working for and started a home based practice. My healthcare interest grew out of my architectural work as Project Manager for the Spokane Shriners Hospital for Children and out of small projects for many of the rural hospitals in eastern Washington. I’m also an Emergency Medical Technician with our local volunteer fire district, and have served with the district for 25 years.
What is your favorite book?
The Bible gets top billing, and beyond that my tastes are quite eclectic. Off the top of my head I’d list The Bridge at Andau (James Michener), I Married Adventure (Osa Johnson), Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), and Team of Rivals (Doris Kearns Goodwin). My shelves are literally overflowing with books I’ve read and books I plan to read. And then there’s my collection of antique textbooks on various subjects. If I had my druthers, I’d live in a library. Some people say I do live in a library!
How long have you been a member of the EHF Board?
Seven years. I was one of the founding Board members. We met prior to the creation of the Foundation in late summer 2008, and officially became a Board on October 1st of that year.
What attracted you to the Empire Health Foundation Board of Directors?
My mother was a graduate of the Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, I was a Candy Striper there for several summers, and it had always been our family hospital. I had been following the news about the new foundation that would be created by the sale, and volunteered to serve. As past President of the Washington Rural Health Association and a long time rural resident, I felt I had a unique perspective on rural healthcare issues to bring to the Board. I am a passionate spokesman for rural communities.
What most excites you about our work and mission?
The pivotal choice we made was in the hiring of our first President. We had two excellent candidates, one with a solid track record in philanthropic foundation work and one with a plan and a passion for taking philanthropy in a new direction. We took the new direction along with Antony Chiang. I am excited at how we have done so much more than just safeguard the endowment and hand out money in responsive grants. Our strategic initiatives are already starting to show positive results in the short term, and I look forward to seeing long term change.
Has anything surprised you about Empire Health Foundation? If so, what?
I was vaguely aware of the non-profit sector, but did not realize how big of an economic factor foundations and charities are in the economy until I had the opportunity to participate in training, conferences and workshops on behalf of EHF. Board membership carries a heavy responsibility to spend and save wisely.
Finally, when you have an out-of-town guest visit, what is your “must do” activity in your community?
When we have guests, we take them to our fire department for a tour. It is a quintessential small town experience. Everybody likes to ride on a big red fire truck!