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Our Leadership Team

At Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, providing the highest quality healthcare to our young patients and their families is our top priority.  To do that, we hire the best.  Our affiliated physicians, nurses, hospital staff and every other member of our team reflect our high standards of care.  Our executive leadership team is another example of these high standards.  Each member of our leadership team is highly qualified and respected in the fields of healthcare, exemplary patient care as well as best-in-class hospital operations.

Susan M. Distefano (Susie) – Senior Vice President, Chief Executive Officer

Susie Distefano

Susie Distefano

Susie Distefano serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital, a 310-bed quaternary care women and children’s hospital. She has spent much of her career working in a range of leadership roles in healthcare.  Prior to being named CEO of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, she served as senior vice president of patient care services and Chief Nursing Officer at Texas Children’s Hospital.  Prior to this, Distefano was a research officer at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC), where she oversaw clinical research studies in close collaboration with The University of Texas Office of Research. Earlier in her career, she also served as nurse manager in Memorial Hermann-TMC’s neonatal intensive care unit, as well as a neonatal Memorial Hermann Life Flight® transport nurse and team coordinator.

Distefano graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and continued her studies earning her master’s degree at the UTHealth School of Nursing.  She completed the Wharton Fellows Program in Management for Nursing Executives at the University of Pennsylvania and the Intermountain Health Advanced Training Program in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

In 2016 she was appointed as a member of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Board of Trustees, working collaboratively with executive peers representing more than 220 children’s hospitals as national advocates for the advancement of children’s health through innovation in the quality, cost and delivery of care.  She is a board member of DePelchin Children’s Services, Cornerstone Recovery, the Children’s Defense Fund and the Children’s Hospital Association. Distefano is also actively involved with a number of healthcare organizations including the American College of Healthcare Executives, Southeast Texas Chapter. She has been honored with numerous awards over the years, most recently in 2012 when she was recognized as one of 10 “Women on the Move” by Texas Executive Women (TEW).

As the mother of two children, she understands the needs of parents and caregivers to advocate for their children particularly during an illness or surgery. In fact, advocating for women and children is a driving force for her and serves as the basis for her leadership at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. 

Holly Elliott – Vice President, Chief Operations Officer

Holly Elliott

Holly Elliott

As Chief Operating Officer at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Holly Elliott is responsible for the strategic development of the women’s, pediatric and neonatal departments as well as collaborating with the hospital’s academic partner, the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.  Elliott also oversees the growth and operational responsibilities for Perioperative Services, Pediatric Imaging and Procedure Suite, Child Life Services, and The Fetal Center. 

Holly has spent much of her career working in a range of leadership roles in healthcare. Prior to being named chief of hospital operations, she served as director of business development in pediatric outpatient services and The Fetal Center, where she helped recruit fetal interventionists and maternal-fetal medicine specialists, as well as expand pediatric heart and vascular services at the hospital. Before working as director of business development, Holly was the director of non-clinical operations for Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation centers across the Memorial Hermann Health System and was the service line administrator for Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. In addition, she served as the director of operations at Northeast Hospital and was an Administrative Fellow with the System.

She has been instrumental in expanding the healthcare expertise within Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital by actively recruiting highly-qualified personnel at all levels.  Additionally, Elliott successfully launched the patient ambassador program for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in key units to effectively improve every patient’s experience at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. 

She received her undergraduate degree in biology from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and achieved her Master of Science, Health Care Administration degree at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

With two children of her own, she is passionate about serving women and children within the healthcare community while providing the highest standards of care and utilizing innovative approaches. 

Elizabeth Fredeboelling – Vice President, Chief Nursing Officer

Elizabeth  Fredeboelling

Elizabeth Fredeboelling

Elizabeth Fredeboelling leads the nursing operations and patient care practices of the women’s and children’s units of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.  In this capacity, she is instrumental in developing quality and safety controls at the hospital while developing and implementing an effective nursing strategy, policies, procedures, operational performance objectives, and patient care programs. 

Fredeboelling was selected as one of eight nurses for the Workforce Task Force charged with developing strategies for workplace safety and scope of practice issues in healthcare reform by the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE). At a campus level, she led the implementation of PowerChart Maternity, which provides doctors and nurses with real-time access to information about mother and baby during pregnancy and simplifies the overall care process.  Additionally, she has built strong partnerships to facilitate integration into new practice settings, allowing for quick changes in strategic direction.  In this role she has continued to build new capacity at CMHH to meet the market demand and has successfully recruited nurse leaders.

She serves as an active member of multiple associations including the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), Texas Nurses Association (TNA), Houston Organization of Nurse Executives (HONE), Texas Hospital Association, Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), and the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM).

Fredeboelling received her Bachelor’s Degree of Science – Nursing at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois and completed her Master of Science in Nursing, Health Systems Administration at Seton Hall University, College of Nursing in South Orange, New Jersey.

As a mother of three, she understands the unique needs of parents aiming to provide their family with the best care possible.  Her passion for women and children’s health has been integral to her effective approach to continuous improvement at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. 

Sean C. Blackwell, MDChief of Service, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital; Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

Dr. Sean Blackwell is the Chief of Service for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. In this role, he has been instrumental in developing a robust obstetrical and gynecological program at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and in the Memorial Hermann Health System.  Dr. Blackwell drove the development of The Fetal Center, and has aggressively expanded the high-risk pregnancy clinics throughout the Greater Houston area, now with nine clinic locations across the city.  Under his leadership, the department of Ob/Gyn has developed a team-centric approach anchored in collaboration and a dedication to serving patients, as well as excellence in medical education and research.

Dr. Blackwell has been the principal investigator for Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth (2007-2011), which is the largest clinical trials network in the United States.  UTHealth is one of only eight institutions that have both the NICHD-funded maternal and neonatal research networks. In 2014, Dr. Blackwell earned his Six Sigma-Lean Black Belt at the University of Houston, allowing him to apply continuous quality improvements in operational processes to achieve predictable and measurable results. 

He directs the Larry C. Gilstrap M.D. Center for Perinatal and Women’s Health Research at UTHealth and serves as the assistant dean for Healthcare Quality in Perinatal Medicine and Women's Health. He is a graduate of the Physician Quality and Safety Academy at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. Blackwell served as the vice chair for the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) Publications Committee and on the SMFM board of directors.

Dr. Blackwell obtained his undergraduate degree as a double major in biology and classics at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.  He completed medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1993 and completed both his obstetrics and gynecology residency and maternal-fetal medicine fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. 

For more information about the department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, visit

Kevin P. Lally, MD – Surgeon-in-Chief, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital; Professor and Chairman, Department of Pediatric Surgery

Dr. Kevin Lally is the Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and the Chair of the Department of Pediatric Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.  In his role, he has built and recruited for the hospital’s pediatric specialty services and continues to expand the programs within the surgical program, including General and Thoracic Pediatric Surgery, Pediatric Plastic and Craniofacial Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery, Pediatric ENT, Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatric Urology and Pediatric Trauma. 

Board certified in pediatric surgery, surgical critical care and general surgery, Dr. Lally’s clinical interests include prenatally diagnosed problems and congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) as well as Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Dr. Lally, who has published more than 200 scientific articles with over 70 about basic science and clinical research on CDH, helped found the CDH Study Group and the CDH Registry.  The voluntary collaborative has gathered data on more than 9,000 babies with diaphragmatic hernia. The registry now represents centers in 14 countries. 

Dr. Lally is a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy and an AOA graduate of Tulane University Medical School in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He completed his residency at the United States Air Force Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and a fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Dr. Lally holds the Richard Andrassy, MD, Endowed Distinguished Professorship and the A.G. McNeese Chair in Pediatric Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. He has been recognized by the Houston Surgical Society with the Distinguished Houston Surgeon-of-the-Year award, with UTHealth’s President’s Award for Mentoring Women, as well as UTHealth’s Teaching Excellence Award and Outstanding Surgical Educator award. He is a member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and serves on the Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery.

For more information about the department of pediatric surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, visit