This month I had the privilege of attending the Grantmakers in Health conference, a gathering of organizations working in the health philanthropy field. While these organizations were of different sizes and different missions, conference discussions clearly demonstrated that we all share the rather large challenges to healing and wellness.
The conference featured thoughtful discussions about the challenges that plague our communities, but more importantly, it showcased promising solutions and the willing partners working on them. Hearing about these successes from across the country was inspirational.
The conference also coincided with my first six months as President/CEO here at Health Forward. The stories of success acted as a catalyst to examine my time here thus far.
As I look back on my first six months, inspired is how I would sum up my tenure.
While I was inspired at the conference, I was no more inspired than I am every day by working with our Health Forward family of associates, board members, CAC, grantees, partners and most importantly, the uninsured and underserved individuals we are here to serve.
I am frequently asked what it feels like to be on the other side of the desk — the change from grantee to grantor. Though no one will believe me, it is harder.
When I was in the position of asking for grants, I had a singular focus: the service of my patients. While the Foundation’s focus of serving the underserved and uninsured is the same, the path to that wellness takes so many forms that it is harder to choose wisely.
None of the health issues we address exists in isolation, and we continue to face the choices to make about what, how many and in what way to tackle these issues. As funders, we have to balance the need for what has been proven to work against what could be on the horizon as a thoughtful solution to complex problems.
As I mentioned earlier, prior to Health Forward, I was working in a clinic, and focused on my patients. As I transitioned to my new role, I was introduced to a myriad of information about our community. It was — and still is! — a little overwhelming to learn about all the good work already happening in our community. There are so many agencies and faith traditions working to care for and with the communities that make up the heartland. The opportunities are endless. Thinking of them is what keeps me up at night. What a problem to have!
I am grateful for the faith that the Health Forward board and associates have in me to be part of the unfolding endeavors. I am in the debt of the community for their patience and knowledge, who continue to be my best teachers as I learn my role, and as I strive to be a good partner.
Here’s to six months of learning. Looking forward to those to come.