Blog Post
Blog Post

Announcement: The Loss of Director Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH

May 5, 2023
Intend Health Strategies Blog
Announcement: The Loss of Director Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news and mourn the loss of our beloved board member, Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH. Jonathan passed away on May 1, 2023 in Nepal while on an expedition to climb Mt. Everest. A highly experienced and passionate climber, he succumbed to a medical issue while attempting to reach the summit, which was a lifelong pursuit.

Jonathan was a visionary and deeply committed member of our team, who made invaluable contributions to our evolution, growth, and success.

In addition to serving on our board of directors, Jonathan was senior advisor of Global to Local, a Seattle-based nonprofit that develops programs and interventions to improve health and empower underserved communities across the country. For nearly 20 years, he served as President and CEO of Qualis Health, guiding the organization to national recognition as a leader in improving population health. Jonathan continued to practice one night a week as a physician with the Seattle Indian Health Board where he became the founding site director for a unique family medicine residency program for Native American physicians.

Jonathan held leadership roles in numerous local, state, and national associations, including the Washington Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Physicians Consortium for Performance Improvement. He served as clinical professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Global Health at the University of Washington. During the COVID pandemic, Jonathan volunteered to help administer vaccination programs to the Seattle homeless community. He authored more than 90 papers and book chapters on population health management, primary care practice transformation, health problems of vulnerable populations, and quality of care among Medicare beneficiaries.

Jonathan's insights and expertise will be deeply missed. He was a true leader — his impeccable attention to detail inspired us to strive continually for excellence. His passion and commitment to helping healthcare providers thrive were truly remarkable.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Jonathan's family and share in their grief during this challenging time. We hope that they find solace in knowing that Jonathan made a lasting impact on our organization and on improving the quality of interactions, outcomes, and lives throughout the healthcare ecosystem.

As we mourn the loss of Jonathan, we also celebrate his life and the many contributions he made to our organization and to society. We will forever be grateful for his service and dedication, and his legacy will live on as we continue working to realize the vision he helped us create.

According to an online memorial, gifts in memory of Jonathan may be made to a cause that deeply moved him — the Juniper Fund, an organization that supports and empowers families and communities impacted by the loss of Himalayan high-altitude workers.

Intend Health mourns the loss of our beloved board member, Jonathan Sugarman, MD, MPH, who passed away in Nepal while on an expedition to climb Mt. Everest.

View External ResourceDownload PDF

“Relational skills are particularly important right now because they’re rooted in people, with the fundamental assumption that we are good and have common values. If I can approach with unconditional positive regard and build in psychological safety, who knows what we can accomplish, despite the chaos around us.”

Lexy Kliewer, LCSW

Oregon Health and Science University

"The leadership skills, relationships, and perspective I have gained through my involvement in Intend Health have shaped the clinician, educator, and leader I am today."

Kyle Turner, PharmD

University of Utah

"I have employed and used so much of my Relational Leadership experience and training from Intend Health to work."

Krisda Chaiyachati, MD, MPH, MSHP

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

“Over 100 members of the UNC community have participated in our Relational Leadership Institutes… one word stands out for me in our evaluations — regardless of whether cohorts met in person or via Zoom — and that word is transformative."

Josh Hinson, MSW, LCSW

Assistant Professor University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work

“I participated in RLI [the Relational Leadership Institute]... and my world has not been the same since. The community that I’ve gained at RLI has been extraordinary. Being part of RLI means being connected to a diverse, interdisciplinary community that breaks down the walls that are typical in academic medicine.”

Katie Gradick, MD, MHS

University of Utah

“A big impact that Intend Health has on me is it makes me more humble, kinder, more intuitive, a better listener, and I’ve been able to teach the skills I’ve learned to others. All of this makes me a better team member, and I think that that's integral to what Intend Health teaches — we need high functioning teams to provide the best care.”

Student Action Network Participant

"I think the collaborative work that Intend Health does to recruit bright, energized, resilient, diverse, and compassionate primary care physicians all over the country will be even more impactful. Intend Health's efforts will be a big part of the solution to mend our ailing primary care infrastructure in the coming years."

Peter Meyers, MD, MPH

Family Physician, Minnesota Community Care

"In a healthcare system fraught with silos and computer screens, we need the human voice — a personal connection — now more than ever. That's the work of Intend Health."

Matt Lewis, PhD

Strategic Consultant

“So far, my experience in this Relational Leadership course has been THE highlight of my leadership journey. This program exceeded my expectations. I have been sharing the content with my colleagues who are also inspired by it. Thank you for making the world a better place one Relational Leadership course at a time.”

Relational Leadership for Clinician Leadership Program Participant


"This year, there's been so much change with COVID, with work, with everything. But I feel like the PCP Student Action Network has been that constant that I could always just count on. And my favorite part is that no matter how stressful work was, no matter how stressful the year was, whenever it came time for a PCP call or any PCP anything, it's always something that I look forward to."

Student Action Network Coach

“Relational Leadership is what keeps me going. When I feel overwhelmed, stressed, down, I turn to members of the Relational Leadership community for support and resilience. We genuinely care about each other. We put ‘people first,’ truly, in our work together.”

Sarah Smithson, MD, MPH

Assistant Dean for Clinical Education University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

"Thank you for inspiring a generation of future docs to become primary care physicians. I definitely felt like I had a community during medical school."

Shani Truong

Family Medicine Resident, UC Davis San Joaquin General Hospital

Intend Health People