March 9th, 2016

Brian Hawkins was told he wasn’t smart enough to work as a hospital payroll technician. Urged by a mindset instilled by his family “You can do, you must do and you will do” and driven to change the medical system that treated his grandfather poorly Brian persisted to eventually to become the Director of the DC Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

You’ll hear just how much Brian’s parents (and children) have taught him about leadership all throughout this interview.

Brian believes that only by engaging employees is it possible to provide the excellent care the patients and their families deserve. The Hawk Eye program he initiated at DCVAMC empowers employees at all levels to actively observe customer service and immediately advocate for the patient if the service is sub-par. Employees also report their observations to Brian and his team and thanks to this program, numerous changes have been made at DCVAMC to better service the patients. One change resulting from this effort was a complete $900k redesign of the hospital atrium to make female veterans and employees more comfortable. Brian’s interview is filled with stories, examples and tips for creating engagement, diversity and excellence in any organization!

What You’ll Learn

  • Tips and strategies to create a culture of excellence and diversity in any organization
  • How employee engagement (or lack thereof) drastically impacts customer service
  • Why it’s important to cultivate a strong organizational culture that that transcends whoever occupies the leader chair
  • How Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy described in Team of Rivals has shaped Brian’s leadership approach
  • Ways in which Brian’s perspective as a leader was shaped by his parents and being a parent
  • How travel can make you a better leader
  • Why it’s better to not reference the holidays as a new podcaster if you’re planning to launch the said podcast in the New year – yes, this interview was recorded Christmas week as will become quite evident when you listen ;)
  • This and so much more you’ll enjoy hearing about in this episode of Leadership Insights!

Links & Resources

About Brian Hawkins

Brian A. Hawkins was appointed Medical Center Director, Washington DC VA Medical Center September 25, 2011. With more than 2,200 employees, over 90,000 Veterans enrolled for care and a budget of more than $450 million dollars, Mr. Hawkins leads one of the largest and highly visible medical centers in the nation. In addition to the main hospital, Mr. Hawkins is responsible for the Community Resource and Referral Center for Homeless and At-risk Veterans (CRRC) and five community based outpatient clinics in Washington, DC; Fort Belvoir, Virginia; and Greenbelt, Camp Springs and Charlotte Hall, Maryland.

Brian began his career at Chicago’s Hines VA Medical Center as a Clerk/Typist. His career demonstrates continuous advancement through leadership positions which include; Medical Center Director at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Associate Director and Chief Operating Officer of the VA Maryland Healthcare System and Associate Director and Site Manager for the Perry Point VA Medical Center. He has also held positions of authority at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Atlanta VA Medical Center and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Brian holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Health Administration from Governors State University. His unique leadership style was recognized by Veterans Health Administration (VHA) naming him 2012 “Communications Visionary of the Year”. He is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Senior Executives Association, and the American Pilot and Aircraft Owners Association and has been an Adjunct Professor at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. A Veteran himself, Mr. Hawkins served eight years in the Illinois Army National Guard.


If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share with friends –thank you so much!

Leave a Comment

Incite International