After more than 36 years of leadership and commitment to quality within the organ donation and transplantation community, Sue Dunn has retired as chief executive officer of Donor Alliance. She led the Denver-based organ procurement organization (OPO) serving Colorado and Wyoming for more than 15 years. Her last day was June 30, 2020.
“Throughout her storied career, Sue has demonstrated an unwavering passion for organ and tissue donation, and as a result has helped to ensure that countless patients have received the lifesaving or healing transplants that they desperately needed,” United Network for Organ Sharing CEO Brian Shepard said. “The impact of her decades of tireless work and dedication have been felt far beyond Colorado and Wyoming and will continue to be realized for years to come. She has been a valued leader and mentor for many and we wish her well in her retirement. She will be greatly missed.”
Dunn joined Donor Alliance in 1989. She served as the organization’s vice president of Organ Procurement Operations/Compliance and Regulatory Affairs before being named CEO in 2004. Prior to Donor Alliance, Sue spent five years as an organ procurement coordinator in Minnesota.
She also served as OPTN and UNOS board president from 2018-2019, leading semiannual meetings of the board, as well as chairing the Executive Committee and UNOS’ Corporate Affairs Committee. She is formerly the president of the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and has served on numerous industry boards and committees. She has earned widespread recognition for her leadership at Donor Alliance.
Henri Haskell, senior director for organizational excellence at UNOS, says she is a fan of Dunn’s leadership style as an advocate for quality management. Haskell recalls a conversation in which Dunn said the leadership at Donor Alliance is grounded in a culture that is nurturing, transparent and emphasizes personal accountability.
“I have learned from her that success as a leader rests solidly on one’s ability to create, build and maintain relationships,” Haskell said. “Who hasn’t received a personal ‘Thank you’ note from Sue Dunn or acknowledgement from her by your first name for a job well-done while she served as our Board President?”
On behalf of Donor Alliance, Dunn received the 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, presented by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at last year’s Baldrige Quest for Excellence Conference in Maryland. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program raises awareness about the importance of performance excellence via training and education, organizational assessments, and the sharing of effective practices through its national and regional award programs.
Dunn said Donor Alliance has been on the Baldrige journey since 2010, focusing on innovation and continuous improvement. She challenged her transplant peers not using Baldrige for process improvement.
“Our mission is so important that we are doing a disservice to donor families and to those on the waiting list if we’re not continually striving to be the best organization we can be.”