Nationwide Children's 127-year-old mission gets CEO Tim Robinson out of bed each day

Jess Deyo
Columbus CEO
Tim Robinson, of Nationwide Children's Hospital, photographed on Monday, November 1, 2021.

For Nationwide Children’s Hospital CEO Tim Robinson, picking his proudest moment over 30 years at the hospital is like picking his favorite child—most days, he can’t.

Robinson, CEO of the Year in the large nonprofit category, started at Nationwide Children’s as assistant treasurer in 1995, and he quickly climbed up the ranks, transitioning to senior vice president and chief financial officer in 1997. He went on to serve as executive vice president and chief financial and administrative officer where he stayed for over a decade, until being named the hospital’s CEO in 2019.

In short, it’s safe to say Robinson has seen the hospital through its best and worst days.

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But if Robinson had to pick, his most gratifying moment may have been early on in his career when he was fundamental to the growth of Partners For Kids, one of the nation’s largest pediatric accountable care organizations, which grew from serving 13,000 kids to over 300,000 under his leadership. Similarly, his efforts with Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families, has led to over $22 million being invested back to the community.

For president and chief operations officer Rick Miller, who has been with Nationwide Children’s for nearly 40 years, the CEO’s involvement in giving back may be his legacy.

“Even when Tim was CFO, he was much more than a traditional CFO,” Miller says. “He was an early advocate and proponent of our accountable care organization and nurtured that program, really for decades, and it’s really mushroomed into, I believe, the biggest pediatric accountable care organization in the country.”

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Fast forward, and Robinson’s favorite moment could be the opening of the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion in March 2020 after a $50 million donation from Big Lots in 2016. The facility dedicates nearly 400,000 square feet to behavioral health research and treatment and was designed to help break the stigma around mental health.

For Robinson, achievements like that, and the people who make it possible, are the reason he fell in love with his career in the first place.

“Folks like Big Lots coming in, in a very material way and very public way to say that we need to break these stigmas and do this work for children, it was pretty gratifying,” Robinson says.

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And with highs, there are also lows, but Robinson’s confidence in his team is unwavering. Amid COVID-19, the staff has been relentless on the quest to care for patients, including hundreds of thousands of telehealth appointments, in-house testing, and intense efforts to help combat the influx of delta variant patients. To care for the team, Robinson offered additional paid time off and bonuses and has consistently encouraged feedback from staff, he says.

And following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, The Stand Against Racism/Stand for Health Equity initiative was established to educate employees on bias, social justice and how to foster inclusiveness.

Today, Nationwide Children’s is tackling its next strategic plan, a $3.3 billion initiative which Robinson says is the most ambitious plan to date. Launched this summer, it has a laser focus on expanding efforts in behavioral health, gene therapy, genomics, tissue engineering and more. Also included is a new hospital tower and three facilities. And while he’s proud to lead the hospital, Robinson says he knows he couldn’t do it without his dedicated staff.

“It’s the one of the most important things we can be doing,” Robinson says, “taking care of the next generation and helping them reach their full potential.”

So, what is Robinson’s proudest moment? Truthfully, there isn’t one. But there is certainly something that gets him out of bed each day: the hospital’s 127-year-old mission to help all children who come through the doors achieve the best health outcome. That’s why it’s an honor to serve as CEO, he says.

“I think it’s one of those things where each challenge, each opportunity, presents itself and you’re asked to step up. And to the extent that you get that opportunity, it’s always been very gratifying for me for the ability to do what we do. I say it over and over again, but the wonderful part about it is being able to have an influence and impact on children around the world.”


Tim Robinson

CEO, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Age: 63

In position since: July 2019

Previous: Chief financial officer, executive vice president, chief administrative officer, Nationwide Children’s; assistant treasurer, Nationwide Children’s; treasurer of shoe retailer Kobacker Co.

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and business administration from Indiana University Bloomington; certified cash manager, IU

Employees: 13,000+

2020 Gross Patient Revenue (Hospital): $2.8 million