New Arkansas Children's Hospital CEO Marcy Doderer Pledges to Listen First

The summer of 1987 was a turning point for Marcy Doderer.

Doderer, who was in high school at the time, had an internship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock and worked with then-CEO Randall O’Donnell.

“I found that running a hospital had to be the most exciting thing in the world,” Doderer said recently. “And I thought, I’m going to run a children’s hospital someday.”

On May 3, Arkansas Children’s Hospital announced that the former intern would be the next president and CEO of the state’s only pediatric medical center. Doderer will take control of the hospital on July 15, replacing Dr. Jonathan Bates, who will retire on June 30.

Doderer has more than 20 years of health care management experience, most recently working as vice president and administrator of the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, which is part of the Christus Santa Rosa Health System.

Doderer, 45, is stepping into a 370-bed hospital that had $519.2 million in revenue for its fiscal year that ended June 30, a 2.42 percent drop from the previous year.

Doderer said her vision for the hospital is to “help it maintain the level of success and excellence that it has today and work with the partnership and the team there to take it to the top 10 children’s hospitals someday.”

She said her first 100 days will be spent learning about the daily operation of the hospital and listening to the key employees and leaders. Then she’ll develop a plan to “help shape the future” for the hospital, she said.

Her management philosophy is to be approachable and available, she said.

“I don’t like folks to fall back on mediocrity, so really striving for excellence in everything we do is incredibly important to me,” Doderer said.

And she’s fond of these sayings: “We may not be perfect, but we will be excellent, and that good is really not good enough.”


While working at the children’s hospital in San Antonio, Doderer helped transform the organization into a freestanding, separate children’s hospital. It had been operating as a hospital within a hospital, she said.

Doderer also was responsible for changing the academic partners from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio to Baylor College of Medicine and forming a partnership with Texas Children’s Hospital.

After learning that Bates announced his retirement in December, Doderer didn’t immediately jump at the chance to return to Arkansas.

“Given the exciting things that are happening in San Antonio, … I can’t leave what’s happening here,” she said. “I’m doing great things.”

But her mind kept returning to the opening at ACH.

Then she asked her husband, Mark, if she should apply for the job and he said yes.

“It was the draw to lead an exceptional organization like Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” Doderer said. “And it was the draw to be able to come back to Little Rock.”