Sommer Kleweno Walley has been named the new chief executive officer of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
In accordance with UW Medicine’s contract with King County for the management of Harborview, Kleweno Walley’s appointment was recommended by UW Medicine and approved Sept. 15 in a vote by the Harborview Board of Trustees, as the representative authority of King County.
Her appointment is effective immediately. She succeeds Paul Hayes, who retired after six years as Harborview CEO.
Kleweno Walley has served in clinical and administrative roles during her 24 years with Harborview. She began her Harborview career in 1997 as a speech-language pathologist. After holding many leadership positions across the organization, she joined Harborview’s executive team in 2017, when she was promoted to senior associate administrator for Surgical, Emergent, Integrated Clinical Services.
Her selection follows an extensive, competitive, and inclusive national search. The process included interviews with numerous stakeholders, including managers, medical directors, direct reports, labor partners, and community members,
“Sommer became the preferred candidate for her devotion to Harborview’s mission and her vision for the future. I’m pleased that she was chosen for this position,” said Lisa Brandenburg, president, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics, and University of Washington vice president for medical affairs.
Since her appointment as interim chief executive officer in December 2020, Kleweno Walley has demonstrated remarkable, steady leadership as UW Medicine faculty and staff at Harborview continue their leading role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the selection committee noted.
King County Executive Dow Constantine commented, “Sommer brings exceptional knowledge and skilli to her role as CEO of Harborview, as we’ve seen over the last nine months as she served as Interim CEO. Her focus on the mission of Harborview, her commitment to the well-being of employees, and her dedication to strengthening relationships with Harborview’s labor partners make her an excellent choice by UW Medicine and the Harborview Board of Trustees to lead our public health hospital.”
“I am thrilled that Sommer will be continuing her service to our community as CEO for Harborview Medical Center, one of the most well-regarded hospitals in the nation,” said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott. “Harborview has a long history of medical excellence, but as the county’s hospital, Harborview’s focus on caring for people when they are at their most vulnerable and of prioritizing members of the mission population make it truly special. I am looking forward to working with her on these efforts and more.”
In a letter to hospital staff announcing the appointment, Steffanie Fain, president, Harborview Board of Trustees, wrote, “Despite many challenges over the last year, Sommer remained focused on Harborview’s mission to serve the most vulnerable members of our community and improve health outcomes for historically underserved populations.”
“Her efforts to remedy institutional racism and unconscious bias that contribute to significant health disparities in our community illustrate her commitment to eliminating race-based inequities,” noted Brandenburg in the same, jointly written letter to staff. “Sommer is similarly focused on creating a safe and supportive environment for every employee.”
Kleweno Walley’s vision for Harborview’s future includes continuing to work closely with the King County Executive and King County Council on planning new facilities that King County voters overwhelmingly approved in a historic vote last November. With funding from the $1.74 billion bond measure, Harborview will expand and upgrade the region’s only Level I trauma and burn center, develop a new medical tower with single patient rooms, and provide more resources to meet the acute need for additional mental health services in Seattle and King County.
“We look forward to her continued leadership and success in support of Harborview’s community and mission,” noted Fain.
Kleweno Walley earned a B.A. in 1995 and an M.A. in 1997 in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Washington State University. In 2009, she received a Master of Health Administration from the UW.