Blog Posts By: Steve Roling

Keep the line moving

Royals manager Ned Yost and World Series trophy

November 10, 2015

I started playing baseball at a very early age, and I have always loved the sport and the important life lessons learned by playing team sports. So as you can imagine, these last few months for me have been like living on a cloud. Every day, another exciting come-from-behind win or bitter disappointment. Luckily for […]

Strong Ethics Shaped Health Forward

February 2, 2015

Shortly after I was hired as the President/CEO, founding board Chairman Dr. Harry Jonas asked me to contact several relatively new foundations around the country to find out what mistakes they made in their start-up years, and what things they did early on that they found successful. I was pleasantly surprised with how open other […]

It’s More Than a Game

October 20, 2014

Editor’s Note: On the eve of the Kansas City Royals first World Series in 29 years, Health Forward asked our most loyal Royals fan, former President/CEO Steve Roling, to reflect on the upcoming games. Every so often a moment happens that you’ll remember the rest of your life. Last Wednesday evening, when the Kansas City […]

The Voyage Comes to a Close

August 28, 2013

On March 31, 2008 I wrote my first post for “Steve’s Blog,” and today will be my last time writing on this blog, as I am retiring at the end of August. Sometimes it takes just minutes to express what I am thinking about and at other times — like today — the words come […]

Working with Health Forward Associates a Privilege

August 21, 2013

My time at Health Forward is coming to a close. On Aug. 14, I participated in my last Health Forward board meeting. These last few days are full of cleaning my office (which is no easy task), finishing some projects I am working on, and sharing stories and memories of the last nine years. My […]

Medicaid Expansion Should Be Based on Facts, Not Politics

August 15, 2013

The Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) recently published a report called: Data Book: Missouri Health and Health Care. This report was designed to help members of the Missouri legislature understand the facts of the Missouri Medicaid program so that legislators could make informed decisions in the upcoming session. Some interesting facts from this report I want […]

Kauffman Attributed His Success to the Golden Rule

August 8, 2013

On Aug. 1, 1993, Ewing Kauffman died. To honor this great man, several of us (pictured left) who currently work at Health Forward and who used to work at the Kauffman Foundation went to the Kauffman Gardens (where Mr. and Mrs. Kauffman are buried), along with several former Kauffman Foundation board members, and paid tribute […]

The Best Years Are Still Ahead of Us

July 30, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Bridget McCandless, the newly elected President/CEO of the Health Forward Foundation. Dr. McCandless is a well-known physician who is a dedicated and well-informed community activist and leader on local, state and national health-related issues that affect the poor and underserved. Her professional resume is very impressive, having serving on many boards, committees, […]

A Lifetime of Meeting People: Health Forward Associates Are Some of the Very Best

July 18, 2013

One of the good fortunes of working a long time is that you get to work with and take pride in people who distinguished themselves over the years. It is easy to spot potential in a young person and depending on hard work, some luck, and determination, many of my former associates in previous jobs […]

Founding Health Forward Board Set Tone for Ethics, Fairness

July 8, 2013

As the days grow closer to my retirement from this wonderful foundation, I am constantly reminded of the opportunity given to me almost nine years ago by founding board chair Dr. Harry Jonas. Dr. Jonas now serves on the foundation’s CAC, and he is a member of the Health Forward Search Committee which is in […]

Celebrating the ‘Bridge Builders’ in Our Community

July 2, 2013

Last weekend I attended church at St. James Parish, located at 39th and Troost. It was a special Mass honoring the retirement of long-time Parish Administrator Deacon Ross Beaudoin. In his sermon Ross talked about St. James being a “bridge” for the community. In attendance were judges; homeless men and women; elected officials; people from […]

The Culture of HOPE

June 25, 2013

Last week, I attended the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance conference with individuals and organizations that are trying to influence health policy primarily for the underserved. We celebrated some nice wins this year including improving health benefits for foster children and increasing funding for mental health. Despite these policy wins, this last year has been a […]

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

June 12, 2013

“I have an opportunity for you.” I can say with complete confidence that every one of the Health Forward associates and board members during my tenure at the Foundation has heard this from me. I firmly believe that all challenges come with an opportunity. One of the biggest opportunities of being President/CEO of a foundation […]

Affordable Care Act: Still Much to Be Done

June 3, 2013

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, the implementation of the new health care law — the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — has been full of starts and stops. The latest situation centered on congressional leaders criticizing Secretary Sebelius for trying to raise private dollars to implement the new federal law. The reason she is […]

Being a Grandparent Is the Best Stage in Life

May 27, 2013

Well, it happened on our 38th wedding anniversary — I now know the name I will be called for the rest of my life: Gam Pa. My young granddaughter, Isabelle, shouted my new name at me when I walked into her house this past holiday weekend. Last week Isabelle had tubes put in her ears […]

Cultural Wars Playing Out in the Not-So-United States

May 14, 2013

Last week Missouri passed two pieces of legislation — which were based upon legislation recently passed by Kansas — that substantially reduces taxes and nullifies federal gun control laws being enforced in the state. In addition, federal lawmakers have refused to provide appropriate money to implement certain sections of the Affordable Care Act. All of […]

Through Tough Times, the Health Forward Family Keeps Going

May 2, 2013

In October 2004, Dr. Harry Jonas, Health Forward’s founding board chair, offered me the job of president/CEO of this foundation. While I was grateful for the opportunity in 2004, I am even more honored for the opportunity to lead this foundation some nine years later. During this time, I have met many wonderful people, learned […]

Legal Aid Lawyers Work for the Rights of the Poor

April 24, 2013

Last week, I met with a group of legal aid lawyers from all around the country, including several of our outstanding team of legal aid lawyers in Kansas City. These skilled and dedicated lawyers, who could earn two to three times their current annual income if they were in private practice, have devoted their life […]

Allen County Thrives as Residents Focus on Health

April 10, 2013

I had the opportunity to travel to Iola, Kan., (located in Allen County, Kan.) this week and meet with several grantees that Health Forward has funded over the years. I also met with the mayor of Iola and with Judge Creitz, chief judge of the 31st Judicial District. I grew up in a very small […]

Vote on Tuesday to Renew the Health Levy

March 29, 2013

On April 2, Kansas City, Mo., voters have an opportunity to renew, for another nine years, an existing 22-cent levy on their property tax to pay for health care for the poor who have no health insurance. This tax would raise about $15 million per year that would get distributed to Truman Health Centers, KCMO […]

There’s Still Time for Medicaid Expansion in Kansas and Missouri

March 19, 2013

I just returned from a Grantmakers in Health (GIH) Conference in San Francisco. (The stairs in the picture to the left welcomed our Health Forward contingent to the conference.) I am honored to be on the board of directors of this national philanthropic organization. I am also honored to serve on the GIH board with […]

Could You Survive on $354 Per Month?

March 5, 2013

Currently in Missouri, if you are a parent with three children and have an income of more than $4,250 per year ($354 per month), then you are considered too rich to participate in the Medicaid program. Currently, Missouri state law assumes that a parent who earns more than $354 per month can afford to buy […]

Make Your Voice Heard

February 19, 2013

The Missouri House Democrats have produced a bill on how they would like expand Medicaid in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Next week, we are told, the House Republicans will also propose a bill that will likely take a different approach to this expansion. This is wonderful news … and this is the […]

Stan Musial Touched the Lives of So Many

February 12, 2013

I have played and enjoyed watching baseball virtually my entire life. I grew up in Jefferson City and we listened to every Cardinal game on KMOX radio — the announcers were Harry Caray and Jack Buck. Back in the 1960s the Cardinals were really a good team with many famous baseball players — Ken Boyer, […]

Mentors Help Shape Us

February 6, 2013

Mentors are a wonderful gift! Next to our parents and our immediate family members, mentors help make you the person you are and they can open doors for you that you could have never dreamed possible. In my life I have had many wonderful mentors: Tom Butterfield, who gave me my first job, and because […]

Compromise Is the Art of Leadership

January 30, 2013

The last two weeks have been full of promises by the governors from Missouri and Kansas and our President of what they hope to accomplish in 2013. Each leader has his own message but for the most part the topics covered are the same. Every politician wants to increase jobs, lower taxes for the middle […]

Family Matters

January 3, 2013

The holidays were full of excitement, joy and sadness for my family. The greatest gift during the holidays is the gift of being with your family — and now that I have grandkids this gift is even more special. A hug from your grandchild can give you hope and make everything else seem bearable. However, […]

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth … Billions of Dollars

December 21, 2012

It’s been a busy year for Health Forward and our grantees. Before we bid farewell to an eventful year, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects that helped make 2012 a productive year. On the 10th and final day of our year in review, Health Forward President/CEO Steve Roling […]

The Journey Continues

December 13, 2012

On Wednesday, December 12th I notified the Health Forward Foundation Board of Directors of my intention to retire as President/CEO. This was a hard and emotional decision, but it is the right time for my family. As I look back at my eight years at Health Forward, I am so honored to have joined the […]

A Lasting Connection

November 22, 2012

The Thanksgiving holiday is very special for my family. My mother was born on Nov. 23, so every year somewhere close to Thanksgiving, we celebrated my Mom’s birthday. Earlier this year my Mom passed away, so this is the first Thanksgiving we celebrated without my Mom being physically present. She is with us in spirit […]

Our Spirit Will Not Be Defeated

November 8, 2012

My granddaughter, Isabelle Lafaver, is about to celebrate her first birthday this Sunday. She accompanied her dad and grandpa to the polls on Nov. 6. Her dad, Jeremy LaFaver, was elected to the Missouri General Assembly. Her grandpa worked hard to pass Prop B to increase the cigarette tax in Missouri. Obviously her dad had […]

This Year’s Election Is About Health

October 29, 2012

For those of us who care about the health and health care of our citizens — especially the poor and uninsured — this upcoming election has many things on the ballot that are important to consider. Yes on Prop B It is well known that Missouri has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation and […]

Personal Touch Matters to Kansas City Residents

October 19, 2012

In my line of work I try to keep up on philanthropy efforts around the country, so I read The Chronicle of Philanthropy regularly. Many of the articles in the Chronicle are about organizations located on the east and west coast but in the current edition of the Chronicle there is a feature story about […]

Monday Nighters Know How to Celebrate Life

October 8, 2012

In my job I get to meet many inspiring people who live life to the fullest. Recently I was invited to join the Kansas City Call’s Monday Nighters to watch the Monday Night Football game with them. What a night! This group of about 15 interesting and fun loving African American men has been getting […]

Advocacy Must Be an Essential Part of Nonprofits

September 26, 2012

In the late 1960s, I worked for a not-for-profit agency in rural Missouri that cared for kids who were separated from their parents for various reasons. Back then our job was to love the kids and provide a safe and structured home for these children so they could hopefully return to their families and become […]

Remembering Joan Berkley

September 20, 2012

Last week, I lost a friend and Kansas City lost one our best community advocates in Joan Berkley. The memorial service for Joan was remarkable — but then, you kind of knew that it was going to be because Joan and Bert Berkley and their family are so very special. All of Joan’s children and […]

Health Reform Isn’t Easy, but Let’s Work Together Anyway

September 13, 2012

I recently participated in small group discussion of folks who are very knowledgeable of the health care system. They came from various backgrounds: insurance provider, health investor, health attorney, home health care, health policy expert, nurse, doctor, health strategic planner, representative of the business sector who is interested in providing adequate health coverage to employees, […]

Age Isn’t a Number, It’s an Attitude

September 6, 2012

This doesn’t seem possible…but it has finally happened to me. This week I become eligible for Medicare. I remember when I thought folks on Medicare were REALLY OLD. But now that I’m on the other side, I must rethink my earlier opinion. People my age are vibrant, energetic and active. I see people my age […]

A Report on Giving

August 26, 2012

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently released a study of giving in America based upon 2008 itemized tax returns. The report show the national giving averages by income category: $50,000 to $74,999 7.6% $75,000 to $99,999 5.0% $100,000 to $200,000 4.2% More than $200,000 4.2% The state of Kansas ranked 16th in giving…a typical Kansas household […]

It’s Back to School for Voters: Time to Study the Issues

August 15, 2012

The August primary elections are over and now we know who will be the Democratic and Republican candidates running for each major state and national office. Unfortunately, I am already tired of the political ads I am seeing over and over again on TV. And we are lucky in Missouri and Kansas, because both political […]

Missouri Voters Should Keep Missouri Plan

July 31, 2012

More than 70 years ago Missouri voters did something that 34 other states have since adopted. After Tom Pendergast tried to buy an election of a Supreme Court judge, Missouri voters decided to set up a judicial nomination commission to interview candidates and pick a pool of three nominees from which the Governor may select. […]

Meet the Future Leaders of Greater Kansas City

July 23, 2012

This past week we celebrated the graduation of the Kansas City cohort of Ladder to Leadership, a program sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) and implemented by the Center for Creative Leadership. Health Forward was asked by these national organizations to be the local funding partner. Ladder to Leadership selected eight cites to […]

Give the Affordable Care Act a Chance to Succeed

July 5, 2012

My reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was both excitement and confusion. Legislators who oppose the ACA (including most elected officials in Missouri and Kansas) are now saying that that even if the law is constitutional, they will not takes steps to implement the law but instead work hard […]

The Future of the ACA

June 26, 2012

On Thursday morning, we will know how the Supreme Court rules on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am leaving the country to attend a wedding before I know how the Supreme Court rules. While the ruling will be a landmark decision, in some respect, I suggest the Supreme Court ruling is […]

What We Can Learn From City and County Officials

June 11, 2012

Every year I join the members of The Community Advisory Committee to visit all 11 elected city and county officials within our region to inform them about the work of the Foundation within their community and to listen and discuss the health needs in their community. I also spend time in Jefferson City and Topeka […]

Remembering Those on Memorial Day

May 28, 2012

In the last four months I have lost both my mother and best friend Dick, who I’ve known since grade school. Other than my wife and children, these two people knew me better any one I have ever known. Those relationships are hard to replace. I still find myself talking to both my mom and […]

Making Sense of the 2012 Missouri Legislative Session

May 16, 2012

The Missouri legislature passed its $24 state billion budget last week. While many legislators noted how painful it was passing the budget in difficult economic times, they were not willing to increase revenue by stopping some existing tax credits or taxing internet sales as have most states. Instead they cut child literacy programs, Parents as […]

Implementing Health Reform in Kansas and Missouri

April 24, 2012

Just last week, the Missouri House introduced new legislation to block implementation of the current health reform law. Attempts like these to block implementation of provisions contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not uncommon in many states, including Missouri and Kansas, therefore making timely implementation of health reform provisions very difficult to imagine […]

Missouri Should Consider Other Options to Raise Revenue

April 16, 2012

The Missouri legislators are getting close to the deadline when they have to vote on a final state budget. As they have in the past, it appears that legislators are avoiding sensible proposals to raise taxes on sales via the Internet and are looking for ways to again cut budgets for important state services to […]

Show-Me Content Missourians

April 5, 2012

A few weeks ago the results of a national survey (the U.S. Well-Being Index) was released that ranks states and cities on a variety of health and lifestyle measurements. It found that in 2011, citizens in 43 other states consider themselves more content than Missourians. When writing about the survey results the St. Louis Post […]

Dole Institute Panel to Address HEAL

March 27, 2012

On March 29th I am a speaker on a panel at the Dole Institute of Politics. The panel is addressing an important issue – healthy eating and active living. Over 30% of our local population is either overweight or obese. This is a topic the foundation board has targeted significant funding and it is a […]

Time for Missouri to Kick Butts

March 20, 2012

The United States Surgeon General Regina Benjamin has recently issued a report on teen smoking. Some of her findings include: One in four high school students smoke and 80 % of these children will continue to smoke as adults An estimated 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette every day 9 in 10 current smokers […]

Improve Health Literacy Rates = Reduce Health Care Costs

March 14, 2012

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Research shows that only 12 percent of adults (or roughly 1 in 10) have a proficiency in health literacy, while 30 million adults have below basic health literacy. […]

Sharing the Legacy of Sen. Tom Eagleton

March 6, 2012

On Monday March 5th I was in St. Louis joining about 15 other former Senator Tom Eagleton staffers giving a presentation to St. Louis University Law students and other family, friends and acquaintances of the late Senator. After leaving the Senate, Eagleton taught at St. Louis University Law School for many years with Professor Joel […]

Missouri Got it Right with Buck!

February 29, 2012

When I read in the newspaper that Buck O’Neil was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians on February 27…a big smile came over my face. While I did not know Buck well, I did get to spend time with him on many occasions. Like every one else who met him, Buck was always gracious […]

Balancing the Missouri State Budget by Increasing Revenues, Not Cutting Services

February 21, 2012

The legislature in Jefferson City is correctly looking for ways to curb spending in order to balance the Missouri state budget. The governor presented his budget to the legislature that the House is now considering, and it is not unusual for the Republican House members to disagree with the Democratic governor’s recommendations. Some big numbers […]

Remembering Aylene Roling

February 14, 2012

My mom died on January 30, 2012. For her last three weeks of life, I spent most of my time with her. It was both a wonderful experience and one that was also very painful. Although in some pain and unable to get out of bed, my mother was the same independent and strong willed […]

Recognizing Three Outstanding Leaders

January 12, 2012

In February, Health Forward will be losing three long time board members because of term limits: Mamie Hughes, Judge William Mauer and Rev. Fuzzy Thompson. These three individuals have played a significant role in shaping this foundation and making sure that we stay close to the people we serve. Health Forward will be eternally grateful […]

Berwick Resignation Yet Another Partisan Barrier to Improving Health System

December 20, 2011

I have never met Dr. Donald Berwick. Dr. Berwick was the former interim head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), who resigned from the position on December 3rd because his nomination by President Obama to be the permanent head of CMS was blocked by the Senate Republicans. Dr. Berwick is a trained […]

Time Is Now To Plan Missouri and Kansas Insurance Exchanges

December 1, 2011

The American response to health reform has seemingly reached a “cooling off” period until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionally of the individual mandate. This wait and see attitude is potentially very dangerous. The law requires most aspects to be implemented by 2014. It is very difficult to imagine that Missouri and Kansas will […]

Welcome Isabelle Marie

November 17, 2011

Last week was very special for our family. Our oldest daughter and her husband became the proud parents of their first child and our first grandchild. Isabelle Marie was born on 11/11/11 and joined our family. As a first time grandpa I realize my comments are not without bias, but Isabelle is simply amazing. She […]

America Needs Job Creation, Not Wealth Creation

November 8, 2011

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in Washington, DC recently released a report that gives evidence that not only are the rich are getting richer, but the gap between the very rich and the rest of us is expanding more now than any time in our history. The upper 1% of the population saw its income […]

Former Kansas Governors Define Leadership

October 31, 2011

The Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita, Ks. (funded by the Kansas Health Foundation) fosters civic leadership. Its initiatives are designed to inspire, educate and connect Kansans from all areas of civic life, including business, government and nonprofit organizations. Periodically they publish “The Journal” which includes interesting stories about leadership issues and often they tell the […]

Interrupting Crime in Kansas City

October 24, 2011

Last week, I saw the documentary “The Interrupters” at the Tivoli Cinema. It was one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen in my life. The movie is about an evidence based violence prevention program in Chicago called CeaseFire. Throughout this moving story, my mind would wander to the similar concerns we have […]

New Documentary Showcases Work of Violence Interrupters

October 13, 2011

Our foundation office is located on the corner of 18th Street and Prospect in downtown KC. Though we have a nice office space within close proximity to the wonderful Negro League Baseball Museum and the Jazz Museum and a beautiful view of Downtown KC, our neighborhood is also home to a lot of crime and […]

Reforming Our Current Health System

October 10, 2011

Approximately 450,000 people in the KC metro area either are uninsured or on Medicaid. This represents about 25% of the total population in our area. Of this amount, over half are uninsured. This number has been rising dramatically in the last few years as people have lost their jobs – especially those with quality education […]

The Influence of Sports on Our Community

October 3, 2011

It is amazing to me the influence sports teams have on the energy and mind set of a community. A former KU Chancellor told me that it was much easier being Chancellor during the KU basketball season than during the football season…alumni are much more forgiving and more appreciative during a typical winning basketball season. […]

September 20, 2011 – The First Step Towards Improving the Health of Missourians

September 26, 2011

September 20, 2011 will hopefully go down as an important day in the history of Missouri. This marks the day that a group of folks–including this foundation—filed ballot initiative language with the Missouri Secretary of State to increase the cigarette tax in Missouri by 80 cents per pack. Hopefully November 6, 2012 will also go […]

Celebrating Life’s Milestones

September 20, 2011

No matter how busy we are at work…our family always takes over as the top priority at certain milestone times in our life. In July 2010 our oldest daughter was married. And just last weekend our youngest daughter married another wonderful man. This November, my oldest daughter and her husband will have a baby – […]

Meeting the Health Needs of the Undocumented in Kansas City

September 14, 2011

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 undocumented immigrants living and working in Missouri and Kansas. These folks came here illegally to work in jobs that most Americans are unwilling to pursue. The federal and state governments have laws that say no undocumented immigrant can apply for Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. […]

Are You Interested in Health Policy Issues?

August 30, 2011

You may have never heard of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) but if you are serious about health policy issues, this is a group that you must know about. And lucky for those of us who live in Kansas City, NASHP in holding their annual national conference in Kansas City from October […]

Hope for the Future

August 22, 2011

For the last several years my daughter has supported and raised a beautiful young lady she first met at Operation Breakthrough. Like most of the young children at Operation Breakthrough, this child came from a poor family and had experienced many things in life – through no fault of her own– that could have broken […]

Where Is the Logic In Kansas

August 15, 2011

Kansas Insurance Department Director Sandy Praeger is well known and respected throughout the region and nation as a knowledge expert in her field. For the last few months she has traveled throughout the country helping states implement Health Insurance Exchanges that are mandated by the new health reform law. Kansas was recently awarded a $31.5 […]

Lessons Learned About Kansas City

August 8, 2011

I have the honor of serving on the United Way of Kansas City Board of Directors which is skillfully lead by President /CEO Brent Stewart. At a recent meeting, United Way staff presented some statics about the Kansas City area that are alarming to me. One-half of the poor in the Kansa City area are […]

A Salute to Mayor James and Mayor Reardon

August 2, 2011

We live in a strange world. Civil discourse used to be the norm. This is no longer the case. In the Kansas City region we are lucky to have several mayors who are able to look past partisanship and focus on results and collaborations. Two of those mayors are Mayor Sly James from KCMO and […]


July 26, 2011

As the US debt ceiling debate continues in Washington, DC and various budget cut proposals are made public, it is hard for one to not lose hope. How can the these health and social programs for the poor, the elderly, the underserved be cut in such a dramatic fashion without causing chaos? Clearly the federal […]

The Flaw in Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

July 19, 2011

Drug testing of welfare recipients was recently signed into law by Missouri Governor Nixon. While no one wants tax payer money being spent on purchasing illegal drugs, it is very disheartening to focus this kind enforcement on just the poor. What about legislators, farmers, state workers, doctors, hospitals, nurses, teachers, social workers, and businesses who […]

It All Started with a Postcard

July 15, 2011

It all started with a post card! In late 2008 Health Forward sent a postcard to residents of Cass County alerting them to the various funding opportunities available through the foundation. The morning after the postcard arrived in the mail, our office was overwhelmed with phone calls from low income families who wanted to know […]

Looking for a Few Good Men and Women

July 6, 2011

Did you ever want to be on a health foundation board? Well you now have an opportunity to apply to be considered to be on the Board of the Health Forward Foundation. Go to the Health Forward web site and you can print off a board application form that when completed will be considered by […]

Helping Joplin

June 24, 2011

I am sure many of us have heard some unbelievable stories of heroic efforts of ordinary people who came to the aid of victims of the tornado in Joplin one month ago. I personally have heard stories about nurses carrying patients down 7 flights of stairs. I have heard stories about ordinary citizens with pickup […]

What Are We Really Debating with Health Reform?

June 17, 2011

I spoke last week to the Downtown Rotary Club 13 about the new health reform law. I was impressed by the turnout, by the quality of questions and how open minded the Rotary members were about this issue. Most of the national and local polls conducted show that a small majority of people still do […]

The View From 18th and Prospect

June 7, 2011

As I write this blog, I sit gazing out our foundation office window on 18th and Prospect looking toward the beautiful KC downtown skyline. While the distance between my office and downtown is only a few blocks, it might as well be light years away. Outside my office window I see lots of folks waiting […]

How You Can Help Feed Hungry Children

June 3, 2011

Last week the Health Forward associates spent the morning at Harvesters’ sorting food to be included in the “BackSnack” program. Over 13,000 back packs full of nutritious food are given to low income children each Friday during the school year so that these children are not hungry over the weekend. Packing the bags is virtually […]

Health Literacy Required to Make Sound Medical Decisions

May 27, 2011

The words Health Literacy sounds so fancy and academic. I have been married to a nurse practitioner for over 36 years and along the way I have picked up a few medical terms…but I will be the first to tell you that I am somewhat illiterate when I speak to a doctor or some other […]

What Determines Your Health?

May 23, 2011

Last week I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. David Williams, Professor of Public Health at the Harvard School of Public Health speak at an event hosted by Truman Medical Center. What Dr. Williams said was not particularity new news to those of us who closely follow health matters…however, his presentation clearly painted a […]

What Really Matters?

May 10, 2011

What really matters? Sure we all work hard each day, trying to make a living so we can provide our family with financial support. Hopefully most of us also have a job that is meaningful and gives us a real sense of purpose. However, I believe that most things in life that are really meaningful […]

Coming Soon: A New Addition

April 28, 2011

Last week my daughter Stephanie and her husband Jeremy informed our family that they are going to have a baby in November of this year. This will be the first baby on both sides of the family so the excitement barometer hit a high mark when the news was announced. When exciting news like this […]

America’s Divide Between the Haves and Have Nots

April 21, 2011

In my daily life I experience and live in two worlds – one that is full of opportunity and hope and one that is full of despair and frustration. One that is challenging and invigorates both the mind and spirit and one that is overwhelming full of angst and hopelessness. Some days this dichotomy hits […]

KC Leaders: Focused on What Unites Us

April 12, 2011

Last Friday our foundation hosted 29 future health leaders of this community as selected by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and trained by the Center for Creative Leadership. Health Forward is proud to partner with these two nationally known and respected organizations and to be selected as the local sponsor of this 16 month leadership […]

Kansas SRS Policy Goes Too Far!

April 4, 2011

Before I was hired to work at Health Forward I was the Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services. This Department was responsible for over 11,000 children who were in foster care in the state of Missouri. Based upon my experience in Jefferson City, I find it particularly troubling that on February 10th the […]

Reducing the Size of Government

March 29, 2011

I read several newspapers daily to keep informed. Last week I noticed that Jack Miles, Editor of the Warrensburg Daily Star Journal, wrote a column that really made sense to me…reduce the size of state government by reducing the numbers of our elected state officials. Recently the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the Jefferson City […]

Happy Birthday ACA

March 23, 2011

On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law and a lot has happened since then. As you may recall the provisions of the bill are phased in over several years, but already the following provisions have been implemented: Insurance companies are required to cover children with pre-existing conditions Any […]

A Life of Caring Remembered

March 15, 2011

Last Friday I was notified that Dick Dunn, former Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had passed away. Prior to running this large state agency, Dick was the Executive Director of Boy’s Town of Missouri. Dick was from the Springfield area and while he was passionate about and devoted to his […]

Lessons Learned from Grantmakers in Health 2011

March 8, 2011

I just returned to Kansas City after spending four days in Los Angeles attending a Grantmakers in Health Annual Conference. Grantmakers in Health (GIH) is made up of some 450 health related funding foundations from throughout the United States. National foundations such as Robert Wood Johnson, Kaiser, and Kellogg are joined by much smaller regional […]

Aiming to Improve Health Conditions in KCK

February 28, 2011

Last week I met with Mayor/CEO Joe Reardon of the Unified Government of Kansas City, KS and Wyandotte County and I was so impressed with his vision for improving his community – especially concerning his passion for promoting healthy living. The Mayor received bad news a few months ago that Wyandotte County had the worst […]

Acceptance at St. James Catholic Church

February 21, 2011

My family has attended and been active in a wonderful and vibrant church in south KC ever since we moved here in 1980. However, we have been blessed to visit many other churches of all denominations and synagogues over the years for Saturday or Sunday services or to attend weddings, funerals or Bar Mitzvahs. Kansas […]

Keeping You Informed

February 11, 2011

Welcome to the new Health Forward web site. Jennifer Sykes, our communications officer, has spent many months talking to our stakeholders in order to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of our new web site. Our “old” web site was well received if people were trying to find out information about our grant making process. Hopefully […]

The Key to Reducing Healthy Disparities

January 19, 2011

Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new report on racial disparities. To no one’s surprise, the poor, the uninsured and the less educated tend to live shorter, sicker lives and cost our nation billions of dollars in heath related care. Babies born to African American women are up to three times […]

Looking Back on 2010 and Ahead to 2011

December 21, 2010

The mission of the Health Forward Foundation is to provide leadership, resources and advocacy to eliminate barriers and promote quality health for uninsured and underserved. As we worked toward that mission in 2010, Health Forward was able to celebrate many achievements…achievements that opened the door for many opportunities and challenges in 2011. From a resources […]

Solutions for Missouri’s Low Health Outcomes

December 3, 2010

According to the American Public Health Association the state of Missouri ranks 38 out of the 50 states in health outcomes…only 12 states are in worse shape than us (Kansas ranks 24th). Why is this? One of the main reasons for this very disappointing ranking is that Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates […]

Time to Give Thanks

November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. This Saturday morning my wife cooked two turkeys for a charity event and the smell of those baked turkeys was unbelievable. Besides celebrating Thanksgiving, we will also be celebrating my Mom’s 92nd birthday. Over 42 years ago my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and today she […]

Our New Elected Leaders Should Come Armed with Questions

November 5, 2010

What an interesting election we have just experienced. Congratulations to those who have been elected to serve our community and nation. Thanks also to those unsuccessful candidates who were brave enough to participate in the election process. Now comes the hard part — governing. In my early life I was privileged to work for U.S. […]

Separation of Church and Discrimination

October 12, 2010

It has always amazed me that people of faith sometimes use their religion to explain why they can discriminate against others, kill others, and exclude others. Religion is now being used by some to determine who you can vote for and some religions define specific issues that determine whether you can continue to practice as […]

Training the Future Non-Profit Leaders

September 21, 2010

When I was in college I was fortunate enough to meet Tom Butterfield who had started a residential home for troubled boys in Marshall, Mo. Tom’s vision for helping youth grow to be responsible adults captured my heart. In many ways, meeting Tom changed my life. I worked for Tom while in graduate school and […]

Let’s Start Holding Political Candidates Accountable

August 30, 2010

Political campaigns and policy discussions are having a tough time co-existing in today’s world. I am old enough to remember a time when what a candidate said during his campaign is what the candidate believed. I am not sure anymore. In today’s world, most of what we hear about from a candidate during a campaign […]

Remembering Richard Nadeau

August 9, 2010

Last week Richard Nadeau, a former respected founding board member of Health Forward, passed away at his home. Richard led a full life even though he was partially blind. He was an avid art collector and mental health advocate and practitioner. In the early days of the foundation he fought hard to have mental health […]

Reform Reality – Who Really Wins with a Yes Vote to Proposition C?

July 30, 2010

Proposition C is on the Missouri Ballot on August 3. Most legal scholars, political pundits and even proponents agree that the vote on this referendum is mostly symbolic. Even if the bill passes with a majority of YES votes, it is anticipated that the courts will rule that state law cannot precede federal law. The […]

Who Will Care for the Newly Insured?

July 2, 2010

With the new health reform bill recently passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, over 32 million currently uninsured folks are estimated to be insured by 2014. While that is great news – the obvious question is who will be providing health services to these newly insured Americans. In the state of […]

Focus on Implementation of Health Reform

June 18, 2010

The federal health reform bill was signed into law in March of this year after months of difficult and very messy negotiations and partisan political activity. It was not a pretty sight to watch even if you liked the final outcome. It certainly did not inspire confidence in our elected officials. While national polls show […]

We’re Number 50!!

May 18, 2010

Missouri is Number 50! That is the reputation the state has earned when last week the state of South Carolina raised its tobacco tax. Now Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the United States. Not surprisingly, Missouri has one of the highest smoking rates in the United States. Research tells us that the higher […]

Together … We Can Do Anything!

April 9, 2010

The last few weeks have been truly historic… the Clean Indoor Air bill was signed into law in Kansas and President Obama signed into law a massive federal health reform bill. Both of these historic events were accomplished after many years of hard work. It was not a sure thing either bill would pass until […]

A Fine Tribute to a Fine Woman

March 16, 2010

On March 6th the Lucile M. Bluford Library (30th and Prospect) was reopened after extensive renovations on a cool but glorious Saturday morning. I could feel Ms. Bluford watching down on us with a big smile. Ms. Bluford, former long time Editor of the KC Call Newspaper, would be so proud to see how wonderful […]

Kansas to Now Enjoy Clean Indoor Air, but Where Is Missouri?

March 1, 2010

Four years ago it was generally agreed that passing a clean indoor air bill in Kansas would never happen. Then year by year with much work, education, cooperation and networking among various interest groups (including foundations and the Kansas Health Policy Authority), the Kansas Senate passed a good bill last year. However, after the bill […]

Why Just Waldo?

February 16, 2010

I have a daughter who lives in the Waldo area and we have been very disturbed about the rapes that have recently occurred in this neighborhood. To the credit of many Waldo residents and the police department, many community meetings are being held, posters of the alleged rapist are plastered all over the neighborhood, newspapers […]

A Fond Farewell

February 2, 2010

For those of you who work for a nonprofit organization or who serve on a nonprofit board, you know the importance and dedication of the folks who serve as board members. Last week Health Forward had six of our founding director’s leave the board as their board terms expired. These founding board members were simply […]

Reforming Health Information Technology

January 19, 2010

For those of you who know me, it will come as no shock to hear me say that I am not skilled in matters that pertain to computers or technology. In fact, some would say that I am totally lacking in these skill sets. I do, however, understand the power and usefulness of technology and […]

New Year Is a Time to Give Thanks

January 7, 2010

The Holidays are over and it is time to get back to work. My house was full of family, laughter, and good food for virtually every day between Christmas and New Year. Like most of you who live in the Kansas City area, I spent some part of each day shoveling snow. I was able […]

We Need Solutions, Not Politics!

December 24, 2009

After months of intensive debate, the Senate has passed a health care bill. When Congress comes back to Washington, D.C. after the Holiday break, serious negotiations will begin as House and Senate conferees will debate the final language that will hopefully be sent to the President for his signature. In the 1970’s I worked for […]

KS and MO: Stop Cutting and Start Looking for New Revenue Streams

December 8, 2009

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recently announced another round of very deep and troubling budget cuts. Both Governors’ gave a clear signal that more budget cuts would be forthcoming unless the economy significantly improved very soon. I wonder when one or more of our elected officials will provide leadership and say […]

Thanks to Those Working Toward Reform

November 23, 2009

During the Thanksgiving season one year ago I wrote a blog about my Mom celebrating her 90th birthday. Today I am happy to report that my Mom will be celebrating her 91st birthday this week. She is a vibrant person who reads constantly and knows more about national and local news than most people. She […]

Have a Little Faith

November 12, 2009

Sometimes I go months without reading a good book and sometimes I find myself reading two or three books at the same time. Well, I have been reading a lot lately. Two weeks ago Mitch Albom was in Kansas City promoting his new book “have a little faith”. I had bought this new book because […]

Hawaii – A Model for the Nation to Follow

October 23, 2009

The New York Times recently ran a story about the health care system in the state of Hawaii. You can read the entire story on the Health Forward web site policy page. Since 1974 Hawaii has required all employers to provide health care benefits to employees who work 20 hours a week or more. Is […]

Congratulations WIC!

October 5, 2009

Something wonderful happened in KC last week and very few people noticed. This change will positively affect the lives and health outcomes of thousands of residents. Last week the KCMO Health Department in partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services announced the most comprehensive change in more than thirty years to the […]

Health Care – A Moral Obligation

September 22, 2009

The health care debate is getting very interesting if you are a social scientist, a researcher, reporter, or political pundit trying to figure out who has the most influence in Congress. For the rest of us who are looking to our elected officials in Washington to fix our current broken health system…these are scary times. […]

Remembering September 11th

September 10, 2009

The day of September 11, 2001 will unquestionably be one of the most remembered days in the history of our country. On the day of the attack, I had one daughter working in New York City and one daughter going to college in Washington, DC. It took us several hours after the attack to reach […]

RIP Senator Kennedy

August 27, 2009

There is a small cafeteria right off the floor of the US Senate where only Senators and their guests are allowed to eat. In 1974 former U.S. Senator Tom Eagleton took me there on my first day of new staff orientation. Sitting mostly by themselves, ignoring each other while reading newspapers or simply enjoying “down […]

America Deserves Open, Honest and Safe Debate on Health Care Reform

August 18, 2009

Most citizens are forming opinions on health reform based on how the current health system currently affects them. If they have never been turned down for coverage because of pre-existing conditions, if their health insurance is provided by their employer at a reasonable cost, or if their insurance premiums and co-pays have not increased substantially […]

Lessons from a Legend

July 30, 2009

On August 1, 1993 Mr. K (Ewing Kauffman) died. It is so hard to believe he passed away 16 years ago. I still go by Kauffman Gardens and pay my respect to him on a regular basis…that’s the least I can do for a man who has given me and our community so much. I […]

Message to Washington D.C. – Set Aside Politics as Usual and Find Health Care Solution

July 20, 2009

A group of foundation leaders who fund programs in Kansas recently met with Gov. Mark Parkinson. In my opinion, Gov. Parkinson is a hard working, compassionate and honorable person. I am so impressed that he looks at issues without being overly concerned about the politics of the issues. He simply is trying to do what […]

Small Businesses Need to Be Heard in Health Care Debate

July 6, 2009

My dad was a small business person who owned, bought and sold several small businesses over the years. He loved being his own boss and having the freedom to run his company just like he wanted to. As a small business owner, he valued treating the folks he worked with compassion and he always provided […]

Let’s Focus Reform Talks on Quality Health Care, Not Profit Margins

June 18, 2009

Health reform discussion and legislation is on a fast track in Washington, DC. All the players say we must provide quality health insurance to the 47 million uninsured. Everyone agrees on this and this is a huge step forward since the Clinton days. How we structure the new health plan and who pays for it […]

Happiness Is…

June 5, 2009

Knee replacement surgery is not for the faint of heart. It has been a little over two weeks since my wife had her surgery and she is getting better every day. Thank you to the many folks who told us stories about others who successfully completed this procedure. Also, thanks to those of you who […]

From President/CEO to Caregiver

May 17, 2009

I will be away from the foundation for a week to ten days helping my wife who is undergoing knee replacement surgery. My wife is a nurse practitioner and she always takes care of everyone in the family who needs medical attention –so now it is her turn to be the patient. My job is […]

Let’s Stop Playing Partisan Politics

May 4, 2009

In Missouri and Kansas the state legislatures are winding up their legislative sessions. In Kansas, hopefully Governor Mark Parkinson will bring a fresh approach to the partisan discussion that has taken place the last few months. Governor Parkinson is one of the finest people public servants I have met… he is a leader with both […]

Nonprofits – Are You Listening??

April 18, 2009

I used to work in the for-profit sector as a banker and as a publisher of a business newspaper. It was customary for us to regularly conduct focus groups or surveys of our customers to find out what they were thinking about our product or services. Based upon this input, we would redesign our products […]

Every Child Deserve Unconditional Love

April 7, 2009

The month of April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This is an issue that is very special to me. Early in my life I worked at Butterfield Youth Services in Marshall, Mo. and I saw firsthand the results that physical, emotional and sexual abuse caused young children. I saw a young boy with burn […]

Rest in Peace

March 25, 2009

In the last few weeks two people who have had an important impact on my life passed away—Mike Russell and Gurnie Gunter. Mike Russell was the co-founder of the Kansas City Business Journal. For almost six years I had the privilege of working for this newspaper. Mike was an entrepreneur and loved life in the […]

Now Is the Time for Health Care Reform

March 11, 2009

In the last few months the Health Care Foundation has hosted several poverty simulations across the community. In less than two hours a person attending these simulations can feel the pain, heartbreak and despair felt by families every day who live in poverty without jobs and health insurance. Attendance in these simulations has been high. […]

Clean Indoor Air – Now Is the Time

February 24, 2009

Last week I was in Jefferson City attending a social function for a friend. The dinner was held in a popular downtown restaurant. It was so good to see old friends but I could not get over how difficult it was for me to eat in a restaurant that allowed smoking. Jefferson City is not […]

Who Cares About the Super Bowl?

February 3, 2009

Sunday was an exciting day for football fans. But it was hard to get too interested in hype that surrounds the Super Bowl this year because of all the heartache that is going on in our community and nation. I compare the great game played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals to a […]

Healthy Lifestyles Funding Opportunities

January 22, 2009

Last week we completed our pre-proposal conferences for Healthy Lifestyles Foundation Defined Grants. We had a record turnout with many people attending their first Health Forward pre-proposal conference. I am not surprised by the large turnout of people as the demand for health and social services in our community is at an all time high. […]

Turning Problems into Opportunities

January 6, 2009

Often times the best opportunities are usually disguised as unsolvable problems. 2008 has brought to our collective attention many seemingly unsolvable problems. Those of us who spend much of our lives advocating for the poor have seen the cry for help increase at an alarming rate…especially from folks who have never sought help before. Many […]

Celebrating Four Years at Health Forward

December 18, 2008

I recently celebrated my fourth anniversary of working at Health Forward. It has been an honor to be associated with such a compassionate and ethical Board of Directors. The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) has provided our board and staff with useful and fair feedback and has done an outstanding job of vetting potential board candidates. […]

New Medicaid Rule Takes Us in the Wrong Direction

December 5, 2008

Last week President Bush’s administration published a new federal rule giving states the sweeping authority to charge Medicaid recipients premiums and higher co-payments for doctors’ services, hospital care and prescription drugs. If they can’t afford the payments, providers would then have the authority to turn them away (except for life-threatening circumstances). This new policy was […]

A Special Thanksgiving

November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving is my favorite time of the year. Yes, I love turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes but great food is not the real reason I love Thanksgiving. I love this Holiday because we take the time to remember the many people in our life who have helped us during our life’s journey. This year […]

Paying More Attention to Main Street

November 11, 2008

A few weeks ago my mother shared with me a letter she has saved for over 85 years. It is a letter her mother received from a small bank in Fulton, MO telling them that the bank had failed and their family had lost all of their savings. My mom can remember her mother crying […]

Accepting All Children

October 30, 2008

Many years ago I worked for a residential treatment center for homeless and delinquent youth in a small town in Missouri. Every Sunday we took our children to a local church. It frankly was hard to find a church who would accept our “family” because our kids did not act or dress or come from […]

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

October 13, 2008

As many of you know, our foundation office is located on the corner of 18th and Prospect Street in Kansas City, Mo. As I drive to work every morning I purposefully drive through various neighborhoods that are adjacent to our office. The 64127 zip code where our office is located has one of the highest […]

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Times

September 23, 2008

Recently I’ve noticed a trend that has left me hopeful that Americans, especially the younger generations, are becoming more involved in their communities and in the political process. I’ve been to numerous events in the past few weeks where I’ve witnessed ordinary people of all ages devoting themselves to causes much larger than themselves. At […]

The Legacies of Our Elected Officials

August 28, 2008

Recently my wife and I visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL and the Gerard Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapid, Michigan. We are spoiled in Kansas City to have immediate access to the magnificent Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, which I have visited many times. During the election season […]

UMKC Dental School: Good News and Bad News

August 8, 2008

We are so lucky to have the UMKC Dental School in Kansas City. Each year the dental school graduates 100 new dentists. 72 of these dental students are residents of Missouri and 20 are from Kansas. The remaining slots are from other states. In a good year Missouri and Kansas retains approximately 70% of their […]

Story Telling

July 18, 2008

Last week I took a few vacation days. During my time away from the office, I spent some time with my mom and in-laws. For years I had asked my parents and in-laws to record stories about their life so my children would have the benefits of knowing about their ancestors. My dad died four […]

Take Time to Refresh Your Mind and Spirit

June 24, 2008

I started my career as a front line child care worker in a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected children. It was a wonderful job. I lived full time with the children, was paid $400 per month and only got a vacation when I took some of the children with me because we were […]

Money Does Not Solve Problems, People Do!

June 10, 2008

I had the pleasure of working for the Kauffman Foundation for over 11 years and in the early years of the foundation I had the honor of working directly with Mr. Kauffman (Mr. K). One day Mr. K told us that “Money does not solve problems, people solve problems and if people work together there […]

Count Yourself Lucky

May 22, 2008

Since March 31 I have been writing a blog and must admit that it is fun to express a point of view on community issues and then receive feedback from people you know and from folks you have never met. I thank all of you for reading and responding, either in writing or the other […]

Health Insurance Premiums Continue to Rise

May 9, 2008

A new study recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Washington Post shows that employer- sponsored health insurance premiums for family coverage increased 10 times faster than US employees’ median incomes from 2001to 2005. The report also found that the percentage of health insurance premiums covered by employees increased to 24.1% in […]

It’s a Darn Shame!

April 21, 2008

According to the US Census Bureau there are over 770,000 uninsured Missourians. At the beginning of the current legislative session, Governor Blunt and the leadership of the House and Senate all agreed a primary objective was reducing the number of uninsured. With about four weeks left, it appears that partisan politics has gotten in the […]

Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

April 8, 2008

All across the country PBS is showing a documentary entitled “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? Unfortunately, Kansas City’s PBS affiliate (KCPT) has decided to show this program at 1 in the morning. That’s too bad because local viewers are missing out on learning why a significant cause of poor health may not simply […]

The Maiden Voyage

March 31, 2008

Those of you who know me will laugh when you hear I am writing a blog. To say I am technically challenged is an understatement. However, I do understand and appreciate various forms of communications so I have decided to join the 21st century. Over 20 years ago, I was the Publisher of the Kansas […]

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