Caroline Whalen Assumes Chair of Puget Sound Health Alliance


Highly respected King County official to lead Board during important growth period for the Alliance

Caroline Whalen, the chief administrative officer for King County with extensive experience in health care innovation, has assumed the chair of the Puget Sound Health Alliance. Her appointment comes at an important time in the Alliance’s eight-year history, as the organization expands into new areas, including cost/price transparency.

“Caroline was instrumental in the formation of the Alliance, and we are delighted to welcome her as Board chair,” said Mary McWilliams. “Caroline’s skill and leadership will be a tremendous asset for us as the Alliance expands its work and tackles new projects, in particular our efforts in cost/price transparency.”

“Caroline is a dynamic and creative leader whom I am fortunate to have on my team,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “I know the Alliance will benefit, as I have, from her insight into what drives health care costs, and her strategic thinking into how to curb them.”

Ms. Whalen was lead staff for the Health Advisory Task Force whose recommendation led to the creation of the Puget Sound Health Alliance.

In her position with King County, she oversees the county’s internal operations, including the design and implementation of health benefits and workers’ compensation. The county’s health reform initiative has been a focus of her work for the last eight years.

Ms. Whalen helped develop the award winning Healthy Incentives benefit design that has saved the county $46 million through plan design changes, a shift to higher quality health care and improved health. Since the program began, more than 800 employees have quit smoking and 2,000 employees have lost 24 tons. Ms. Whalen has worked for King County since 1994 as an analyst and manager for the executive and legislative branches. She started her career working on a Robert Wood Johnson grant teaching management skills to physicians and has worked in an acute care facility providing community outreach and patient information in Oakland, California.

“It’s been gratifying to watch how the Alliance has developed into a critical resource for transforming health care in our region,” said Ms. Whalen. “I’m excited to be able to work with the Board as the Alliance enters a new period in its growth and works to expand its data on quality and patient experience to include cost/price.”

Ms. Whalen complimented Steve Hill, the Alliance’s outgoing chair, for his work. “Because of Steve strong leadership, the Alliance is well positioned to tackle the opportunities and challenges ahead,” she said.

“We are all grateful to Steve’s commitment to the Alliance and to improving health care in the region.” Mr. Hill, who recently retired as Director, Washington State Department of Retirement Systems, will remain on the Alliance Board.

During Mr. Hill’s tenure as Board Chair, the Alliance expanded its performance measurement and reporting into several new areas, including resource and patient experience with primary care providers.

The Alliance also reimagined and relaunched the landmark Community Checkup (online at, and partnered with the state to launch an innovative “medical home” project.

About The Puget Sound Health Alliance

The Puget Sound Health Alliance, an Aligning Forces for Quality Community, is a non-profit made up of those who provide, pay for and use health care, working to improve quality of care at a price more people can afford. More than 165 organizations have joined the Alliance, including The Boeing Company, Starbucks, Puget Sound Energy, WA State Health Care Authority, King County and many other employers, physician groups, hospitals, consumer organizations, unions, health plans, pharmaceutical companies, associations and others. A cornerstone of the Alliance work is the Community Checkup, a regional report to the public comparing the performance of clinics and hospitals for basic measures of quality care in the Puget Sound area (

Media Contact

John Gallagher, 206.454-2957,

Issued February 14, 2013.

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