Tom Van Dawark
CEO, Orca Partners LLC
Whidbey Island, WA
Tom Van Dawark, was raised in a small community in Oregon. He worked on the family farm from an early age, attended high school with 14 classmates and continued his education at the University of Oregon, receiving a Business Administration degree, and after service in the Army, his MBA.
Tom has been fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as a CEO with high reliability organizations, as well as a governance leader with high performing healthcare providers. He has experienced the tragedy of lives lost to preventable harm in both environments. These tragedies and the transformational work that followed, drive a very deep passion and appreciation for the need and the ability of a board and CEO working together to make a significant impact on safety and quality performance.
Tom began his career with American President Lines in the Bay area and gained international experiences with Matson living in Asia.
He joined Foss Maritime in Seattle and served as CEO for fifteen years, guiding the team in a partnership with the Board, to become the industry leader in worker safety and quality of services.
After “flunking” retirement, Tom took on the role of President at Todd Shipyard, with a turnaround directive from the Board. Utilizing Lean principles and in-depth employee engagement, the Todd team improved worker safety, achieved U.S. Navy certifications necessary for work on nuclear powered carriers and submarines, and significantly enhanced financial performance.
Tom has volunteered his services on community and business boards through out his career. He was a member of the Virginia Mason Hospital and Healthcare System Board for twelve years and as Board Chair participated in work with the CEO which resulted in Virginia Mason being recognized today as a top 100 hospital. He served on committees for quality improvement, patient-centered care, credentialing, compensation and strategic planning.
Tom completed his twelve year term, and served on the Seattle Children’s Hospital Board Quality Committee from 2016 through 2018.
Tom established Orca Partners LLC to fulfil a commitment to share lessons learned as a CEO and governance leader for reducing preventable harm and improving the quality of care. He partners with board, CEO and quality improvement leaders to implement leading practices, tailored to their environment, that will make a significant and sustainable impact on performance.