Staff Spotlight

Quan Tan

Queenie (Quan) Tan is the director of finance for the Department of Medicine. She oversees the finance, accounting, payroll and compensation teams and is responsible for budget oversight and high-level department and school-wide reporting and analysis. 

During her 29-year tenure in the Department of Medicine, she has held a variety of positions, including office assistant, fiscal specialist, department systems manager, and manager of finance and accounting.

“Being part of the Huskies Family and serving the greatest and largest department within the UW is what makes me proud,” she says.

Early years

Quan was born in Vietnam with Chinese heritage (they refer to themselves as Hoa people, an ethnic minority group in Vietnam). “My dad migrated to Vietnam from China when he was 10 years old during the Japanese war back in the late 1930’s,” she said. “After the fall of Saigon, people of Hoa were treated differently in Vietnam. We did not have opportunities to pursue higher education.”

To help her family make a living, Quan starting working at age 8 as a street vendor selling soybean milk. She stopped attending formal education during elementary school in Vietnam and never attended middle school. She came to the United States in 1990 at the age of 18, knowing only a few English words.

“We had no choice but to escape that country for better lives. My parents and five of my other siblings immigrated to the US in April 1990, sponsored by my oldest brother who left Vietnam as a second wave refugee in late 1970s and my second oldest brother who arrived in the early 1980s.”

After arriving in Seattle, she attended high school and received her diploma in under four years by participating in summer schools and work training programs. Through one of the work training programs, she started working for the Department of Medicine as a work study student for former Department Chair William Bremner, who was then Vice Chair at the VA Puget Sound Health Care Systems.

“On the first day that Quan worked with us at the VA, 29 years ago, I asked her to complete a task for me,” said Dr. Bremner. “Completion of this task turned out to be much more challenging than I had realized, but the excellent finished product was on my desk in about an hour.  I said, ‘Wow, this is a person that we need to keep working with us!’ I am thrilled that this very smart, knowledgeable, creative, dependable, and invariably pleasant woman progressed through many promotions and is still working with us nearly 3 decades later!”

Upon graduating from high school, she attended Seattle Central Community College and went on to get bachelor’s degree in accounting from Seattle University. She and her younger sister are the only first-generation college graduates in her family.

As a high school student, Quan received the President's Award for Educational Excellence from President Bill Clinton. At the University of Washington, she has been nominated twice for the Distinguished Staff Award (in 2014 and 2016), the highest honor a staff member can receive at the UW. She is a proud member of the Department of Medicine’s 20:20 Legacy StaffShe speaks and writes three Chinese dialects and Vietnamese.

Quan Tan
Last day of radiation for lung cancer, Jan. 2014

She is also a two-time lung cancer survivor.

Diagnosed in March of 2013, she had the upper lobe of her right lung removed in May.

A few months later it metastasized to her windpipe and she underwent combined radiation and chemotherapy therapy from December 2013 to January 2014.

“I am lucky to be working here and treated by the top doctors,” she says.

“It is a great pleasure to work with Quan,” said Czarina Francisco, Chief Financial Officer for the department. “Not only is she personable and a joy to work with, but she has an impeccable work ethic. We all rely on Quan for her accuracy and reliability. The saying goes, when we don’t know the answer, ‘Ask Quan, she will know! She certainly is an asset to our department.”

Quan Tan and family

Outside of work, Quan enjoys cooking, hiking, walking with her dog and spending quality time with her family.

I have a beautiful family! My husband works for the Seattle School District, my son is a second-year student at UW Bothell, and my daughter is in her second year at Hazen high school.

Our Irish Setter, Ginger, will be 5 years old in December. Her mother is Dr. Bremner’s dog Rosie! We are so happy to have her as the addition to our family. She keeps us company and helps us get healthy by walking her daily when the rain is not too heavy.”