After 5 years, Health Forward’s vision still resonates with director of accounting

Christena Diven and her husband, Easter 2021

Five years ago, I joined Health Forward and CFO Rick Zimmer’s finance team as a part-time accountant. At the time I was really looking for a more senior, full-time position, however I felt so strongly about the mission and energy of Health Forward that I decided to take a chance. I immediately enjoyed the spirit and camaraderie of the staff. Everyone was so welcoming, and they quickly brought me into their inside jokes that a long history of working together afforded them. After a strange year of working from home, I’m definitely ready to get back to the office and reconnect in person.

We have witnessed changes in how Health Forward approaches its work, but its focus on its mission has never changed. That mission and vision is what strongly resonated with me five years ago because of my own family’s struggle to access health care when I was growing up. 

The support that finance and administrative departments offer is so important and can make or break an organization. If not done well, the mission is often diverted or even extinguished. When done well, the organization is supported and the mission can move forward and shine.

I was a true child of the 80’s. I grew up in a large family (five children) in urban Phoenix when we could freely run and play with neighborhood friends; it felt idyllic as a child. We had strong community ties to our neighborhood and church, and parents that loved and supported us. But my parents didn’t have a high school education, and I know they stressed and struggled a lot to provide for all our needs. 

Health care is a basic need, one that too many don’t have easy access to. I feel so strongly that where you live, the color of your skin, and your income level should not preclude you from this basic necessity. This belief drives me to offer my best to Health Forward.

Although finance and accounting is traditionally “behind the scenes,” I don’t usually look at it that way. The support that finance and administrative departments offer is so important and can make or break an organization. If not done well, the mission is often diverted or even extinguished. When done well, the organization is supported and the mission can move forward and shine.

Over the last five years, Health Forward has undergone many changes and innovations across our finance and accounting support functions. Needless to say, the part-time position quickly turned into full-time (I think it was only part-time for about a month)! 

  • My first focus after joining Health Forward was to convert to new accounting, payroll, and financial reporting systems. I am still appreciative of the quick trust Rick extended, agreeing to make these changes after I had just started. 
  • In 2018, I had the opportunity to work on our internal team that transitioned to a new grants management system which brought more integration, efficiency, and a user-friendly platform for our grantees. 
  • At the start of the pandemic, we finally switched from paper checks to electronic payments, a longtime goal that kept getting pushed down the list. I’m proud to say that we are now a paperless accounting department.

Those innovations are just a few of the many components that constitute the work of our entire organization. One of the most rewarding aspects of my time with Health Forward has been working as a team for a bigger purpose. I have spent 20 years working with nonprofits, and have witnessed firsthand the struggle many organizations experience raising money, while simultaneously focusing on the needs of the community. I am so proud of how Health Forward has always centered around supporting those doing the hard work in our communities — our grantees and partners. 

I look forward to continuing providing support to Health Forward, working to build healthier, more inclusive communities.


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Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006