An Independent School • Grades 5-12

Kathy Akers Risse ’89: Pediatrician

Dr. Kathy Risse ’89 provides a well-child checkup for one-year-old Wyatt Wedeking. Looking on is Wyatt’s mom, Laura Kirby ’99. Deep family relationships and numerous Lakeside connections are gratifying for Risse, who works in the same place where she was once a patient.

Pediatrician | Virginia Mason Sand Point Pediatrics, Seattle

May 2019

By Jim Collins


athy Akers Risse got her medical degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine. She completed her residency at Seattle Children’s, and became a pediatrician at Virginia Mason Sand Point Pediatrics, the same place she had gone herself as a child growing up in northeast Seattle.

When she talks about the importance of community, she acknowledges how special her own deep roots are. “Working where I grew up and went to school,” she says, “has given me a multigenerational set of relationships. The Lakeside connections alone are incredible.” In its April 2018 issue, Seattle Magazine honored Risse as one of the city’s top dozen pediatricians.

“Kids don’t come with a user’s manual. No two are alike, and no two parent-kid combinations are alike. Parents learn what works, and then kids change, and what worked before doesn’t work anymore. Parenting is a winding journey, not a linear progression.”

“Don’t parent in isolation. Cultivate a sounding board, a place to share knowledge and ideas. Build a community around you. Find support groups for new parents, community center tot times, church groups. Get to know the other adults on the playground. Join the neighborhood babysitting circle. Meet the parents of your kids’ friends. Check out the puberty classes at Children’s Hospital. Recognize that the community will change over time.”

“If there’s anything that concerns you about your child’s physical or mental health — anything — remember that there is no such thing as a bad question. Trust your instincts. Ask your doctor. Tell us what worries you. We would rather hear about things before, not after, they become a big problem.”

“Enlist your kids in filling out medical forms and answering questions. Get them comfortable about accessing the healthcare system. You’ll be teaching them independence and giving them tools they need to launch into adulthood.”