Making Space for New Leadership
Every year brings important opportunities for Grantmakers In Health, and this year will be no exception. I recently informed the GIH board and staff that I have decided to leave the organization at the end of 2019. This was not an easy decision to make, but after 12 years, including seven years as CEO, it is a good time to make space for new leadership. GIH’s financial position is strong and we have invested considerable energy into our staff, infrastructure, programs, and partnerships. We are a vigorous organization that is confidently moving forward to help funders stay on top of issues, communicate and collaborate, and strengthen their skills.
GIH’s board will announce their transition plans as they take shape. In the meantime, 2019 will be an exciting year for us, marked by a wealth of timely and relevant programming on:
- the changing health policy landscape;
- innovation in safety net settings;
- support for family caregivers;
- the future of palliative care;
- the causes and impacts of childhood trauma and community stress;
- the health implications of ongoing changes in immigration policy;
- disparities in maternal health outcomes;
- data and health equity;
- new directions in healthy eating/active living;
- emotional well-being, spirituality, wellness, and health;
- oral health care access and equity;
- social and environmental health determinants;
- advocacy leadership and civic engagement;
- the future of health conversion foundations; and
- the challenges of cross-sectoral grantmaking.
This wide range of topics reflects both the strength of our excellent program staff and the breadth of interests within the sector of health philanthropy.
I trained at the University of California, Berkeley to be an academic anthropologist, but was powerfully drawn to philanthropy because it offered a chance to learn about communities at a first-hand level and also to be a force for positive change in people’s lives. As a program officer at the San Francisco Foundation, a community foundation serving five Bay Area counties, my experiences were transformational. From San Francisco Foundation, I went to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, where my grantmaking addressed communities on a global scale, and then switched gears and coasts for international diplomacy and the U.S. State Department. I always dreamed of returning to philanthropy, and I jumped at the opportunity to do so when I joined GIH as Vice President for Program and Strategy, after several years at the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
GIH is a wonderful organization for many reasons. For one thing, the work is never boring. From our vantage point, we have the privilege of seeing how health philanthropy is evolving, and of being part of that evolution. We find it deeply rewarding to be part of a sector that is doing such vitally important work to serve families and communities and create lasting change. Our board is representative of the sector’s many organizational, geographic, and programmatic dimensions, and their engagement in our work and commitment to it are additional assets.
And our constituents—the individual staff members, CEOs, and trustees of our Funding Partner organizations—are a constant source of energy and inspiration. In the coming year, your participation in GIH and contributions to our success will be more important than ever, and I look forward to working alongside you in the months ahead.
Many have asked what’s next for me. With more than a year left in my tenure it is somewhat too soon to say, but I like the idea of having more time to do genealogical research and for writing about diversity, equity, and other favorite topics.