Daniel Francis Hanley

Born in 1916, Daniel Francis Hanley, the youngest of 8 children, through both scholarship and grit, achieved academic and personal success, first at Bowdoin College and then Columbia Medical School.

Dr. Hanley served as a medical officer in WWII before returning to his Bowdoin roots where he served as the small college’s lead 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 rate 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 database, 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.”

Shortly after Dr. Dan Hanley passed away in 2001, Dan’s family asked Maine Health Information Center (MHIC) President James Harnar to help develop ideas for carrying forward Dan’s leadership legacy.

Because the MHIC had been co-founded and chaired for many years by Dan—and the MHIC was headquartered in the Dan Hanley Building in Manchester, Maine—it made sense that some early thinking about how to continue Dan’s legacy would take place there.

At the request of Dan’s daughter Sheila Hanley, Jim drafted a concept paper proposing that a new nonprofit be established. The organization would honor Dan by bringing together leaders from across Maine to tackle difficult health and healthcare issues that required a high level of collaboration. He also suggested an annual leadership award be presented in Dan’s name.

In 2002 the Hanley family—with assistance from the MHIC staff and strong support from Bowdoin College—hosted a dinner meeting at Bowdoin’s alumni house. At that gathering, family members, friends and colleagues described the attributes that made Dan an exceptional and highly respected leader.

By the end of the evening there was agreement that a new nonprofit should be established, built upon the foundation of Dan’s lifetime of achievement and a core set of principles that reflected his leadership.

The organization was named the Dan Hanley Memorial Trust. Its board chairman was Dan’s son Sean Hanley, a Portland-based orthopedic surgeon. Dan’s widow Maria Benoit Hanley and all four of their children Dan, Sheila, Sharon and Sean all contributed to the establishment and the subsequent growth of the organization.

In the months that followed the Bowdoin dinner, a Board of Directors was formed, with administrative support from the MHIC and Dan’s long-time assistant, Patty Bergeron. In time, a close protégé of Dan’s—-Alice Russell Chapin, who had led the MHIC for nearly 30 years—was named part time executive director.

An inaugural Hanley Leadership Forum was convened at Bowdoin College, where the first Dan Hanley Leadership Award was presented to Stephen Shannon, DO, Dean of the University of New England College of Medicine.

In 2005 Jim Harnar, a founding board member, succeeded Alice as part time executive director. Shortly after, the organization’s name was changed to the Daniel Hanley Center for Health Leadership and offices were established at Medical Mutual Insurance Company, a Portland, Maine-based company Dr. Dan Hanley had played a key role in establishing. Medical Mutual graciously provided office space to the Hanley Center for seven years as the fledgling organization became financially sustainable. The Hanley Board of Directors has held its regular meetings in Medical Mutual’s Dan Hanley boardroom since 2005.