Grants administrator celebrates 5 years at Health Forward

Keonna (middle) is celebrating five years with Health Forward, and strictly observes Red Friday during the NFL season.

Keonna Baldwin (left) received an award from President/CEO Bridget McCandless honoring her five years at Health Forward. The award was presented during a board meeting.


WOW! Five years with Health Forward. It came fast.

I remember the first big project I was tasked with: taking registrations and attending the Community Conversation forum, which took place in October 2014. This event brought together a diverse group of people into one room to discuss barriers to health and how the community can make a difference.

This experience inspired me to want to be involved in my community.

I am a big fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, as any of my colleagues will tell you. My work at Health Forward was an introduction into the philanthropy sector in Kansas City, and it also opened a new way for me to expand my fandom of the Chiefs organization. In 2018, I became a member of the Kansas City Red Coaters, a community service organization composed of working professionals and individuals who are fans of the Kansas City Chiefs. As part of my apprenticeship into the group, I hosted a food drive for Harvesters at Health Forward. I also strictly observe Red Friday throughout the season, of course.

In 2016, I began working with grants as the new grants system administrator. I oversee the grants process and serve as the point of contact to grantees and applicants who have system issues, and I answer any questions ranging from applications to grant reporting. My work means a lot to me, being able to connect with those who are providing the services. It’s such an honor to know that the dollars of the foundation are making a difference, and to witness directly those accomplishments in the community.

I recently had the privilege of attending the Peak Grantmaking Conferences, a gathering of organizations working to improve organization grants system. Though these organizations are different in sizes and missions, I’ve learned many skills and ideas to help create a future grant system for the foundation. As many of you may know, Health Forward has launched a new system to manage our grants and applications.

This is a project that I have been excited about from the beginning. Our team of eight started the work in 2018 and engaged the staff throughout the process as needed. We debuted the new system in March this year.

The process of switching technology was time-intensive and maddening at times, but it was absolutely worth the effort. The end goal was to have an intuitive and effective system for our applicants and grantees. I am happy with how efficient the new system is at getting grant dollars out the door and into the communities.

In my first five years, Health Forward has been led by an exceptionally thoughtful leader in Bridget McCandless. I’m grateful to have worked under the leadership of Bridget. Her wealth of knowledge and commitment to the community has been one of many reasons why I get up every morning eager to come to work.

I’m honored and thankful to be part of an organization and team that is continuously learning and sincerely dedicated to the work we do. I’m looking forward to many more years with the Health Forward family.


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Health Forward Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact Health Forward Communications Officer Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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