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Lifelong career in health care fuels passion for change


I was drawn to Health Forward because Health Forward’s mission is also my personal mission. 

I’ve been in health care for all of my adult career. My interest in health care goes back even further than that, really. As a teenager, I worked with the United Nations and NGOs in small villages in Egypt, educating women on maternal health and contraceptives. I found a mission in that message of accessing health care, especially for those people who are least served and most overlooked. 

When I moved to Kansas City, I was exposed to the United States’ health care system by working with federally qualified health centers in community health and population health. This entry point to the safety net health care system was my first introduction to the health disparities between races, something I was not aware of prior to moving to the United States. 

I worked to build relationships out in the community, while also taking health care outside of the four walls of the hospital. So my mission has always been about health education and bringing health care to the people that are least served in that arena. 

When I think about health care in the United States, we can, as a society, improve the quality of and access to health care to better serve communities of color. It was crucial to me that Health Forward embodied this mission that I’m very committed to. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed to the nation what’s missing in our health care system. The health disparities among the different communities were so obvious, and something more than just serving small communities as issues arise had to happen. While I was very happy working in my previous role, the pandemic spurred me to do more at society’s foundational level. And that’s when I saw Health Forward’s newly announced purpose to address health disparities by working toward systemic change and improvement for health care systems overall. 

When an organization with vast resources and networks like Health Forward decides to employ these resources to improve such an important component of life, it becomes a powerful catalyst for change. Joining this movement felt like it was the next, natural step in support of my own life’s mission.

My role at Health Forward is director of community impact and will lead the People purpose area team. My team is overseeing Health Forward’s philanthropic efforts in the health care ecosystem, which includes direct and indirect health services and efforts surrounding social determinants of health. One of our projects this year has been developing the Learning Action Network, which focuses on organizational changes and diversity representation in leadership and board member positions. 

Another effort we’re focusing on is diversity in the health care workforce. This effort is two-pronged: we hope to build a pipeline of young, diverse students who will enter the health care workforce. This provides wealth-building opportunities for the students through good-paying careers and increases the number of health care professionals of color who can provide more culturally competent care to clients.

While it’s crucial to guide my wonderful team of experts into adopting a new vision, I see my role more as a supporter and connector. I will use my community outreach experience to build relationships and help my team navigate the new strategies in place. We have spent much time learning from the community and from each other. 

My personal hope is that, through our work, we as a society can have a shared understanding of health disparities and inequities. I think Health Forward can be that community leader that brings together entities from every sector, creates an understanding of equity in health care, and shines a light on racism in health care. If we can come to that shared understanding, I think it will really make me personally very happy. This is a long-term goal. This is long, marathon-type of work. And I hope I live to see that shared understanding happen in my lifetime.