Tom Broad didn’t think he would live in Texas more than a few years when he moved to Kingwood from Kansas in 1994. Broad’s first day at his new job in marketing at Northeast Medical Center Hospital (now Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital) changed that expectation.
“The CEO of the hospital was teaching me how to pronounce Humble,” Broad recalled. “That first week I really had strong doubts.”
Broad stayed on the job but many other things changed since his first week 21 years ago.
The hospital got a new owner and a new name. Broad’s responsibilities changed. The Nebraska native learned to keep the “H” silent in Humble and his engaging personality and propensity for generosity turned him into a fixture in the Lake Houston community.
He will soon retire on his own terms.
“I came thinking I was only going to be here a few years,” Broad said. “Then you realize what a great community Lake Houston is and how nice the people are here. People aren’t like this in other communities. I enjoyed the people and I enjoyed the job.”
Broad’s official last day as Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital Community Relations Manager comes on July 3. Though Broad, who turns 67 in October, will miss the work, he will miss his colleagues most.
“This is just an incredible group of people who work here,” Broad said. “I’ve worked in a lot of different places and I’ve never worked with a better group of people. That’s why I’ve stayed so long. I could have retired two years ago, but I couldn’t.”
The feeling is mutual.
“I’d like to thank Tom for his years of service to not just this hospital but to the greater Lake Houston community,” said Heath Rushing, Sr. Vice President and CEO at Memorial Hermann Northeast. “He embodies the spirit of Memorial Hermann Northeast and he has embraced his job with vigor and enthusiasm every day.”
Broad spearheaded Memorial Hermann Northeast community efforts like Project Mammogram, “In The Pink” luncheons and the Northeast Hospital Foundation Gala, among many others.
“These events always went smoothly because of Tom’s preparation and attention to all the details,” said Humble City Councilman and city liaison to Memorial Hermann Northeast Norman Funderburk, who worked closely with Broad on a multitude of projects. “Tom’s professionalism always made me extremely proud to have an association and be a part of anything we worked on.”
The business and civic groups Broad is involved in include Family Time, Humble Area Assistance Ministries, the Humble ISD Foundation, the North Houston Association, the Boy Scouts of America and several area chambers of commerce, as well as the Tax Incremental Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Board.
Broad has also penned a column for more than 10 years, “Tom’s Tall Tales,” for The Tribune, which covers the Lake Houston area. He will continue to write the column in retirement.
“Tom has admirably represented this hospital in the civic and business community and has driven our community outreach programs,” Rushing said. “His reach at our hospital and in the community goes beyond the scope of his job. He will be missed here but I am very proud that I will still be able to call him a friend.”
Broad took a meandering path to Texas from his hometown of Alliance, Neb., the Cattle Capital of the Cornhusker State. Aspirations of being the next Walter Cronkite propelled the University of Nebraska alum into the television news and newspaper business to start his professional career. He then worked as a public information officer for the Nebraska Mental Health Department in Lincoln for 10 years before performing marketing and public relations for hospitals in Missouri and Kansas.
It was a classified ad in the Houston Chronicle that Broad was perusing at the Johnson County Library in Shawnee, Kansas that pointed him toward the job in Humble. Broad has now lived in Kingwood with his partner of nearly 33 years, John Denton, longer than he’s lived anywhere else.
While the mediums and modes of communication have greatly changed during Broad’s career, the skill he covets and practices most hasn’t lost its luster in any facet of his life.
“The way you affect change is you get out and you get to know people,” Broad said. “That’s the one thing in this job that hasn’t changed and has probably become even more important. The key to success to every job I’ve ever had is networking.”
Engaging people and developing relationships is Broad’s strength.
“Tom has always been effective in his networking, always present at Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce events, and as a result has formed lasting friendships and relationships,” Funderburk said. “I consider Tom a close and trusted friend, one that I know I can always count on.”
“I think Tom is the heart of our community,” said Jenna Armstrong, the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce. “He pulls people together and pulls the community together in a way that is uncommon.”
Armstrong sought Broad’s advice when developing Leadership Lake Houston, a program that seeks to cultivate future community leaders.
“Tom was the first person I went to,” Armstrong said. “He’s that person that you want to go to for support. If you don’t have Tom’s support, then you’re stuck.”
So what’s next for Broad?
“I’m going to sleep late and then I’m going to watch Turner Classic Movies for a couple weeks and get caught up,” said Broad, an avid reader and politically passionate vegetarian with a soft spot for animals who prefers to talk about others rather than him. “Then I’ve got a bunch of volunteer projects.”
Denton doesn’t buy it.
“Tom is a creature of habit,” he said. “He probably will rest for a month, but he’ll get bored and probably want to do something.”
Armstrong isn’t expecting much downtime for Broad, either.
“He’s getting hit up left and right because he’s such a great champion for the community causes,” Armstrong said. “He is going to have a very busy retirement, I think.”