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Cynthia Dold began serving as interim president of UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics and interim vice president for medical affairs at the University of Washington on Oct. 2, 2022.

In her previous leadership roles at UW Medicine over the past nine years, she has provided oversight for service line development, expansion of telemedicine and digital health, value-based care efforts and coordination of our incident command response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, she has been closely involved in much of the work related to the development of our clinical strategic plan.

Dold grew up in California and attended UCLA as an undergraduate. She has master’s degrees in Public Policy and Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley.

She spoke recently with The Huddle about her career, family and personal interests.

When did you know you wanted to work in healthcare?

After graduating from UCLA, I spent a year with Americorps working in public schools in Boston and then got a job at a public health research firm. Those experiences inspired me to go to graduate school for master’s degrees in both public health and public policy. I was fairly sure I was going to have a career in politics or in government relations when I began working at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland in the Institute for Health Policy.

At Kaiser, my focus shifted when I realized I enjoyed strategic thinking, organizational development and operations. Kaiser was the perfect place to begin a career in healthcare. It is a large integrated health system with a lot of complexities and opportunities. I learned early how to navigate, balance and represent both the national system view and the regional system view. It is very similar to how I have spent my career at UW Medicine balancing and representing the system view with the individual entities.

How long have you been at UW Medicine and what keeps you here?

I have been a UW Medicine employee for nine years, but I also worked closely with UW Medicine for 10 years while I was at Public Health – Seattle & King County. The mission and the people at UW Medicine inspired me to work here and continue to inspire me. It may sound cliché, but the passion for patients that faculty and staff express on a daily basis is very motivating to me.

How do you plan to approach your new role and what are your goals?

My role has changed just about every year since I began working here in 2013. This has been a very dynamic time in healthcare, and change has created a tremendous amount of challenges and opportunities. Each year, I have added to my portfolio dynamic projects and programs, recruited great leaders and broadened my network. My approach to being interim president will be the same as for all my previous roles: I educate myself as fast as I can on any new programs, projects or opportunities, and I ensure that we have the right leaders and resources in place to execute.

My initial goals include completing the refresh of our clinical strategic plan while focusing on staffing, capacity and achieving financial stability during these challenging times. I will be partnering with the Office of Healthcare Equity on their Blueprint, especially in the area of recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce. I also want to introduce myself and listen to as many people and programs as I can across our health system.

What was it like to lead UW Medicine’s Emergency Operations Center and response to the pandemic?

I am so proud of how our providers, staff and emergency operations teams worked together to care for our patients, community and each other. We learned so much about ourselves and our organization as we navigated personal and professional challenges day in and day out. As we continue to manage the impacts of COVID-19, I take a lot of inspiration from these last couple of years. It gives me great confidence that we can get through just about anything when we band together as a UW Medicine community.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

When I am not working, family comes first. I have coached my son’s soccer team for the last seven years, and I enjoy being on the sidelines of my daughter’s soccer and basketball games.

While my family grew up in California, I am fortunate that my mom and my sisters now live in Seattle, and we get together regularly with all of the kids and the dogs. This year, we have tried to see as many Reign games and Storm games as we can. Seattle has such amazing female sports teams, and I like to support them whenever I can.

I exercise just about every day with walking, online barre class or weight training. Exercise helps me manage my stress, and it gives me time to connect with colleagues and friends. If I really want to recharge, I travel with my family. I am so grateful we get to be back traveling again after such a long pause due to COVID-19.

What are you reading/watching right now?

I tend to read a fiction and a nonfiction book at the same time to mix things up. For fiction, I am reading “Beasts of a Little Land” by Juhea Kim, and my nonfiction book is “The End of Bias: A Beginning” by Jessica Nordell. This book was recommended at a recent training I attended. I have been thinking about rereading “My Life in Full” by Indra Nooyi as I take on this new role. If folks have book recommendations, I am all ears!

I like to watch shows with my kids. With my 11-year-old daughter, we watch Korean dramas. “Crash Landing on You” is our favorite so far. My 13-year-old son likes to watch documentaries, including expeditions by Jimmy Chin. We also just watched the Top Gun sequel together.

Lastly, I try to watch my nephew play college football on TV since he is out in Indiana and no competition to the Huskies!