About Us: Our History

Our Mission

The Hanley Center supports the transformation of health and healthcare through building a culture of greater collaboration.

We achieve this mission by:

  • Preparing individuals to be more effective leaders through programs such as the Health Leadership Development program and the Physician Executive Leadership Instutute 
  • Engaging stakeholders to address complex issues that require collaborative solutions. In recent years these initiatives have helped to build support for Maine's statewide nonprofit electronic information exchange (HealthInfoNet), to assist behavioral health providers in their efforts to acquire electronic medical records and share clinical information (with patient consent) with primary care practitioners; and to better align the efforts of organizations across Maine that are working to reduce youth obesity.

Dan Hanley’s Enduring LegacyPortrait Hanley

"Dan was the consummate physician, loved by his patients and admired by his colleagues."

That’s how prominent health services researcher Dr. Jack Wennberg described his longtime friend and colleague when he delivered Dr. Dan Hanley’s eulogy shortly after his death in 2001. Less than a year later family, friends and colleagues gathered at Bowdoin College to form what is today known as the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership.

Daniel Francis Hanley was born in 1916, the youngest of 8 children. He earned a scholarship to Bowdoin College and Columbia Medical School, served as a medical officer in World War II and returned to Bowdoin, where he was head physician for 33 years.

Dan specialized in sports medicine, served as the chief physician of the United States Olympic team from 1964-1972, and was a member of the International Olympic Medical Commission, where he was a pioneer in identifying the medical dangers of steroid use and developing Olympic pre-competition drug testing programs.

During his time as Bowdoin's physician, he collaborated with Bowdoin trainers to design, develop and study a new football shoe that reduced knee injuries. He took care of private patients, was pivotal in establishing the first physician directed malpractice company in Maine and served on many State boards. He started scholarship funds to enable Maine students to attend Bowdoin and go on to medical school.

Dan served as executive director of the Maine Medical Association and editor of its journal. In 1975, when other publishers rejected Dr. Jack Wennberg's article describing wide variations in rates of common surgical procedures in different parts of Maine, Hanley published it. In his accompanying editorial, he challenged the medical profession to take positive action to address the variations in health care. But Dan was not content to let the matter rest with exhortation to his colleagues. He worked with physicians, in tandem with business and insurance industry leaders, to establish a statewide hospital discharge data base, the Maine Health Information Center, and the Maine Medical Assessment Foundation, to engage physicians to study variations in care and patient outcomes.

"His leadership inspired many physicians and played an important role in convincing Senator Mitchell of the need for Congress to establish a new federal agency now known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality."

"Dr. Hanley will be remembered for his good humor and his tenacity in his self-chosen task of inspiring his colleagues to deal with the sometimes unpleasant facts of practice variations,” Dr. Wennberg said. “But above all, he will be remembered for his integrity and the role model his life and work provides for today's health care professionals who seek to make medical practice better for patients."

A Brief Look At The Hanley Center’s Development

Shortly after Dan Hanley’s death in 2001, the Hanley family invited a number of Dan’s friends and colleagues to gather at Bowdoin College to discuss how his legacy could be carried into the future.

At that first meeting we identified the traits and values that made Dan so effective as one of Maine’s most prominent leaders. These discussions led to a decision to form a new nonprofit organization.

In its early years, the Center established the annual Hanley Leadership Forum, which brought together key leaders to address a single health or healthcare issue that required a collaborative approach. The Center also began recognizing exemplary leadership through its Hanley Leadership Award.

Over time, the Center began to see other needs and opportunities. Alice Russell Chapin, a longtime colleague of Dr. Hanley’s, became the Center’s part-time executive director in 2004. A year later, James Harnar succeeded Alice in this part-time role. Chapin and Harnar were both former Presidents of the Maine Health Information Center, a health data research organization Dr. Hanley helped to establish in the late 1970s and later served for many years as a board member and board chair.

In 2005-2006 the Hanley Center unveiled a new program, known as the Hanley Fellows. Through this initiative, a small number of experienced leaders with a strong desire to lead systems change were selected and paired with mentors. Over the course of their fellowships, these leaders worked together to build their skills and networks, preparing them to take on greater challenges aimed at transforming health and healthcare in Maine. Eight Fellows were selected for the first two classes of Hanley Fellows from 2006-2010.

In 2005-2006, the Hanley Center partnered with the Portland-based Institute for Civic Leadership to develop a new statewide leadership program focused on collaborative leadership. The Health Leadership Development Course was launched in 2007. The intensive 15-day course is conducted annually in Hallowell and Newry. Nearly 200 leaders from a wide range of professions, settings and communities have been selected for the HLD course.

In late 2009, planning began for a new statewide Physician Executive Leadership Institute (PELI). This new program was launched in the fall of 2011 and will reach 400 physicians over a five year period.

Beginning in 2009, the Center has been called upon to organize and facilitate major planning efforts to address an array of issues ranging from youth obesity to the sustainability of primary care in Maine. The Center contributed to the early development and growth of one of the nation’s first electronic Health Information Exchanges (HealthInfoNet) and has led an extensive effort to accelerate the adoption of electronic medical records in Maine’s behavioral health community.

In mid-2010 the Center’s executive director moved from part-time to full-time status. A part-time program manager position was added in 2011. That position was converted to full-time Associate Executive Director in early 2012.

Our Mission

The Hanley Center supports the transformation of health and healthcare through building a culture of greater collaboration. 

We achieve this mission by:

  • Preparing individuals to be more effective leaders through programs such as the Health Leadership Development program and the Physician Executive Leadership Instutute
  • Engaging stakeholders to address complex issues that require collaborative solutions

Our Vision

To help to improve the experience, outcomes and efficiency of the health system in Maine, so the state will be a better place to give and receive care and people will be healthier.