A farewell to Ida's founder after 15 years shaping hearing care

By Clint McLean

When Lise Lotte Bundesen founded the Ida Institute with a grant from the Demant Foundation in 2007, she couldn’t have known the impact she would have on hearing care. As she prepares to retire at the end of June 2022, Ida tools are taught in universities around the world and the institute is even involved in curriculum planning. Ida is sought by heavyweights like the WHO and ASHA to contribute to standards and guidelines. Ida Learning Hall courses are watched by thousands and accredited by a who’s-who in hearing care. And Ida communication and counseling resources are used in clinics everywhere. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Lucille Beck, an executive with the Department of Veterans Affairs summed up her contribution this way, “Lotte is a transformational figure in the world of hearing care. Her focus on persons with hearing loss shifted the treatment and rehabilitation paradigm to person-centered care defining a new way of individualizing care to meet the needs of the person.” 

And Louise Hickson, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at The University of Queensland, Australia, said, “Lotte’s innovative approach defined what we needed to do and gave us the tools to do it.”

Here at Ida headquarters, those of us who worked alongside Lotte as she drove imaginative solutions to improve hearing care also got to see other sides of her.

We saw a leader who considered the cohesiveness of our eclectic little team paramount to everything. We saw a diplomat who knew when to talk, when to negotiate, and when to insist. We saw her listen and we felt heard. And we saw a matriarch who sat for family lunch with us almost every day, despite hectic schedules and commitments.

We got to know the Lotte who knows rice pudding should only be made one way (and that’s hers) but that with most other things, being dogmatic doesn’t lead to better results and rarely leads to innovation. We witnessed Lotte be vulnerable as she participated in team-building workshops, shoulder to shoulder with us. This is also where we witnessed her rap while wearing blue-jeans or “cowboy pants” as they call them here in Denmark and I wish so much that there was video of that because, not only will it likely never happen again, but also it was surprisingly good. You see, Lotte is full of surprises.  

Unsurprisingly, as Lotte prepared to begin a new chapter, she worked doggedly to ensure the transition was smooth and that Ida is in the best shape possible to thrive in the coming years. Beginning July 2022, daily operations of the institute will be handled by a coordination team headed by long-time Associate Director Ena Nielsen. And former Oticon Medical CEO, Jes Olsen, will join us as interim Managing Director.

As a founder, Lotte was ideal. As a director, she was effective. But as a person, she is awesome. And that won’t stop as she ends one chapter and begins the next. As Patti McCarthy at Rush University wrote to Lotte, “Just because you are awesome, doesn’t mean you have to do this forever.”

Lotte, Team Ida will miss you. But as much as we would like you to stick around another year… or decade, we are thrilled for you and encourage you to devote yourself as completely to your next chapter and adventures as you have to making hearing care better for everyone. You deserve it.