Douglas Picha – who recently retired after four decades as president of Seattle Children’s Foundation – is now serving his alma mater as a member of the Washington State University Board of Regents.
The opportunity to serve WSU is a tremendous honor and privilege for Picha, who obtained his undergraduate degree in history in 1975.
“As I began to look beyond my work with Seattle Children’s, the opportunity to give back as a member of the WSU Board of Regents felt like the perfect fit,” Picha said. “I sincerely hope that the perspectives and experiences I bring to the board will be of value to the institution that has meant so much to me and my family.”
Picha grew up in Puyallup as part of a family with a rich farming history. A combination of Cougar spirit among family members and the opportunity to play basketball as a freshman drove him to the Pullman campus in the fall of 1970.
Much of his time as an undergraduate was dedicated to pursuits outside of the classroom and basketball court. Hours were spent “up on the hill” – the third floor of the Compton Union Building – participating on student and campus-wide committees tackling everything from bringing in politicians for speaking events to evaluating head football coach candidates. Picha also had the opportunity to learn about leadership from several WSU athletics luminaries, including Marv Harshman and Jud Heathcote.
It was Picha’s work on behalf of his fraternity that set him on the philanthropic career course. In working to transform the Greek Life recruiting period traditionally known as “hell week” into something more positive and beneficial to students, Picha had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta and participate in the fraternity’s national conference. He pondered aloud to his roommate afterwards how amazing it would be to get a job doing this kind of work.
A few years after earning his WSU diploma, Picha went to work for Seattle Children’s Foundation – the philanthropic arm of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Two years after starting at Seattle Children’s, he founded the Woodmark Group, an organization that brings together some of the largest children’s hospitals across the country to advance collective goals and share best practices.
Picha also founded the Children’s Circle of Care program, honoring individuals and family foundations that provide $10,000 or more a year to member hospitals. The inaugural Children’s Circle of Care honorary event took place at the White House after Picha and his colleagues caught the attention of then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Between 1995 and 2019, the Circle of Care program’s membership grew from 566 to more than 8,100, with annual contributions growing from $33 million to more than $642 million. Cumulative total contributions from care members exceeds $8 billion, according to Seattle Children’s.
In 2002, Picha was honored with the WSU Alumni Achievement Award. As a regent, Picha said he looks forward to helping the university rebound enrollment following the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt to a system-wide approach to administration.
Picha succeeds Ron Sims, who served on the WSU Board of Regents with distinction for a decade. Sims has spent decades in public service, including service as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 2009-2011.
Picha’s term began Jan. 30 and runs through Sept. 30, which is the remaining portion of Sims’ term.