Dr. Kurt Newman and his wife, Alison, met when he was a pediatric surgery fellow and she was a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). More than 30 years later, Dr. Newman is now president and CEO of Children’s National, he and Alison are chairing the 2016 Children’s Ball, which will be held on April 15. We talked to them about their leadership role for the signature fundraising event for Children’s National.
Q: This is the 10th annual Children’s Ball. Have you attended most of them, and can you tell us some of your favorite memories of the event from the past 10 years?
KURT: We have indeed attended all of them, and there have been so many great memories. It’s fun seeing everyone come together for a cause that is so close to our hearts. We have always been so impressed with the community’s generous support of the hospital. Having actual patients participate in the evening is always fun. These children have thrived despite some very difficult diagnoses and treatments, and they are so resilient and inspirational. When you hear their stories, you realize how small your problems are and what a huge impact the hospital has on countless children and families.
Q: Kurt, you have been the president and CEO of Children’s National for almost five years, and you have been with the hospital for 32 years. What does chairing the Children’s Ball mean to you?
KURT: I love seeing all of our supporters together having fun and celebrating the work of our doctors and nurses. It is a big responsibility raising resources so that Children’s National can give every child the care they need. I see firsthand how funds from the Ball are used, so I am honored to be chairing the event this year and appreciate everyone who’s supporting us.
Q: Why did you decide to chair the event this year?
ALISON: Kurt and I have been a part of the hospital community for more than 30 years. Kurt did his pediatric surgery fellowship at Children’s in the mid-1980s and then never left. My first job out of college was as a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit. So we actually met right here at Children’s National! Subsequently, our children have been patients. We’ve both witnessed the amazing care the doctors, nurses, and staff provide – and with such compassion for the whole family. So there are many reasons we felt happy and honored to chair this event.
It’s been such a pleasure working with the executive and host committee members as well as the foundation staff. Their generosity, passion, and commitment really shine through. I have been continually amazed at the outpouring of community support. I’ve learned so much about what it takes to put on such a big event. There is a lot to organize and communicate. Luckily for us, we have a lot of support, and we’re working with people who are true professionals and experts at what they do.
As we celebrate the 10th Children’s Ball, we also wanted to recognize and celebrate the impressive volunteer leaders from past years who have made this event such a success. We thought it was the perfect year to honor the tremendous commitment of people like Norma and Russ Ramsey, Ambassador and Abeer Al Otaiba, Amy and Bret Baier, Susanna and Jack Quinn, Mae Grennan, Cindy Jones, Andrew Blair, Jim Lintott, Paul Dougherty, Chris Nassetta, Frank Saul III, and Henry Fonvielle.
Q: Where did the theme of “Capital Splendor” come from? Was it important to you to emphasize our role as a leader in the nation’s capital?
ALISON: The theme “Capital Splendor” is a nod to our beautiful city and how Children’s National has played an important role in our community since 1870. Many people know the main hospital, but don’t realize we have clinics throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington. Children’s National also runs the school nursing program for the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County. The Children’s Research Institute attracts some of the best scientists in the world, and they are making progress in developing therapies and cures for childhood diseases. We’re fortunate to have such an amazing hospital here in our community – one that families from around the world seek out for the best possible care. Because Children’s National is located in our nation’s capital, we are uniquely situated to play an important role in advocacy at the governmental level on behalf of the care of all children. Last year Children’s provided $73 million in uncompensated care to our local community. This is why events like the Children’s Ball are crucial. With support from the community, every family can count on Children’s National for whatever their child needs, regardless of their child’s need or their income.