Mann, Dorothy, Ph.D.

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 12/04/2007
  • Essay 8407
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Dorothy Holland Mann, public health expert, consumer advocate, and civic activist, arrived in Seattle in 1979, as Regional Health Administrator for Region X (Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Oregon) of the U.S. Public Health Service.  She soon became part of Seattle’s civic establishment, serving on boards, founding non-profit organizations, and functioning on committees appointed by mayors and governors, bringing a passionate approach to issues important to her, including women, the arts, and health. A Group Health Foundation board member said Dr. Mann brings groups and people together “to work on ...  projects for those who most need them:  women, children, minorities, the elderly ... and she does it with such zest and spirit” (Angelos).

Youth and Education

The future Dr. Dorothy Mann was born in Annandale, Virginia, to Susie Crummy Holland and J. Sidney Holland.  Her mother was a community volunteer and her father was in the trucking business in Fairfax County. Her only sibling, J. Sidney Holland Jr., died in 2006. She attended public schools in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. 

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1971, she went on to earn a Master of Public Health Degree in Health Care Administration and Policy from the University of Michigan in 1974.  By 1992, she had earned a Ph.D. in Health Care Administration and Policy from the Union Institute in Cincinnati in its distant learning program.

Working for Health

Having worked in health-related enterprises in Washington, D. C. and in San Francisco, she was recruited by the U.S. Public Health Service.  As Regional Health Administrator from 1979 until 1993, she oversaw family planning, programs for migrant health and minority health, and programs for the Centers for Disease Control in the region.  It was Dorothy Mann who developed the nation’s first Regional Office for Women’s Health.
In 1989, Dr. Mann was part the Washington Child Health Research and Policy Group convened to determine the status of  children in Washington state.   The group produced an 80-page report, which was published in 1991. Besides Dr. Mann, the group included Betty Jane Narver (1934-2001), director of the Institute for Public Policy and Management, a research unit within the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs; Maxine Hayes, assistant secretary, State Department of Health; and Joseph Bell, director of planning, evaluation and professional development, State Department of Social and Health Services.  Some of the startling discoveries the Child Health Research and Policy Group made were that Washington has one of the highest death rates in the country for children between 1 and 12 months and that the suicide rate among children in the state is 50 percent higher than the national average (Fitten).
In 1993, Dr. Mann was hired by Seattle Mayor Norm Rice as co-director of the Violence Prevention Project.  She could not turn this appointment down because interpersonal violence had been determined to be a public health issue by Dr. C. Everett Koop, U.S. Surgeon General and because a year before, her eldest grandson had been killed by gunshot.  She said, “I want to worry less about whether my 8-year-old grandson will arrive from school safely and more about whether he will have the money to go to the university of his choice” (Sunde).
Dr. Mann holds an appointment as Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Health Services, School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Washington.  She is a former member of the Board of Directors of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and served four terms as chair of the board of trustees of Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound during her nine-year tenure on the board.  She also serves on the boards of the Benaroya Research Institute and the Virginia Mason Medical Center. 
Women’s Issues

Adept at making connections and building bridges to launch projects,  she, shortly after arriving in Seattle, talked to individuals and to groups about Africare, a non-profit organization specializing in aid to Africa, in order to found a chapter here. 

She was one of the women leaders who met at the Rainier Club in 1995, and which soon founded the Washington Women’s Foundation.  The organization was originally inspired by a small group which included Colleen Willoughby, Anne Farrell, and the late Patsy Collins.  Its purpose is to encourage women to become leaders in philanthropy, demonstrate the impact of large-scale, targeted grant-making, and to provide education in current issues and strategies in philanthropy.  Members make an annual contribution of $2,300.   Dr. Mann, a founding member, said “I learned about the pleasure of giving away money for good causes”  (McNally).  She has been  chair of its Governance Committee since 2006.
Dorothy Mann  served on the board of the University of Washington Center for Women and Democracy founded in 2000, to improve and enhance women’s opportunities for full participation in issues that affect their lives.  She was a member of a delegation to Morocco, including then Attorney General Christine Gregoire and Supreme Court Justice Bobbe Bridge, to train women candidates for political office in 2002.  In 2003, she went to Jordan with another group from the center to track women candidates.  Voters elected 110 delegates, six of them women, a remarkable outcome for a nation where, previously only one woman had been elected. (Godden).
Art and Education
Her interest in art is exemplified by her membership on boards serving this sector of the city:  Northwest Chamber Orchestra Board of Directors 2001-2003; Intiman Theatre Board of Directors and member, Education Committee, 1993-2001; Seattle Repertory Theatre Board of Trustees; chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, 2007 - present.  As a member of the Museum Development Authority Council she is particularly proud of the Olympic Sculpture Park and delights in recommending it to local citizens and to out-of-town visitors.  She is able to see it from her Belltown condo and  thinks of it as her “front yard” (Henry).
She has served on the board of trustees of, the online history of Washington state history (this website)  since soon after its inception. She was a friend and supporter of Walt Crowley (1947-2007), HistoryLink's president and executive director, and was one of the eight speakers at his memorial service on October 2, 2007, at the Museum of History and Industry.
A founding member of the Strategic Education Center Board of Directors, she has also served as president of the Seattle Central Community College Foundation Board. As well, her formidable résumé includes other local, national, and international affiliations.
Dorothy Mann has  assisted mayors and governors by accepting appointments to key committees and boards.  She was appointed to the Washington State Arts Commission by Governor Gary Locke and, to the Museum Development Authority Council by Mayor Norm Rice.   She served on Governor Mike Lowry’s task force on government efficiency and effectiveness and was co-chair of Mayor Paul Schell’s campaign steering committee and also led his transition team. 
She is now a consultant in nonprofit governance for boards and organizations committed to best practices  for the future.  As an international consultant, Dr. Mann has organized and led cross-cultural study groups to the People’s Republic of China, Nairobi, and Mombasa, Kenya.  She has organized and led interdisciplinary fact-finding delegations to Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa and has led and conducted program needs assessment in domestic and international settings.
Dr. Mann has one son and one grandson.
She has received many awards which include:

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Management Citation (1987)
  • U. S. Public Health Service Award  (1989)
  • Western Washington Excellence in Journalism, for editorials in Group Health’s View Magazine (1992)
  • Big Sisters of King County. (1992)
  • Kellog National Fellowship Program (1993)
  • Africare Distinguished Service Award (1993)
  • U. S. Surgeon General’s Exemplary Service Award (1993)


Constantine Angelos, “7 Women Lauded by Big Sisters as Role Models,”  The Seattle Times, November 8, 1992;  Dave Birkland, “Rice Unveils Plan to Fight Crime, Restrict Weapons,” Ibid.,  September 3, 1993; Susan Byrnes, “Schell Savors Win: ‘I’m Mayor of a Great City,’” Ibid.,  November 6, 1997. Ronald K. Fitten, “Growing Up is Growing Worse for State Children, Report Says,“ Ibid., June 13, 1991; Jean Godden, “From Our ‘Casa’ to the ‘Casa,’ ” Ibid., July 31, 2002; Jean Godden, “Moroccan Women Get NW Boost,“ Ibid., October 4, 2002; Jean Godden, “New Era for Politics in Jordan,” Ibid.,  June 25, 2003;  Mary Henry interview with Dorothy Mann, November 26, 2007, Seattle, Washington; “Lowry Picks Big ‘Citizen Cabinet’, Sets Up Task Forces,” The Seattle Times, December 2, 1992;  Shana Mcnally, “Foundation Lets Women Pool Philanthropy Funds,” Ibid.,   February 14, 1999; Scott Sunde, “Panel Launches Anti-Violence Campaign Multimedia Effort,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 26, 1994.

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