To Our Community,
As HealthierHere enters this dynamic period of change, I am honored to step into the role of interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for our organization. My deep gratitude goes to Susan McLaughlin, HealthierHere’s founding Executive Director and CEO, for the leadership, expertise, heart, and dedication she has poured into this work to help make our organization what it is today. I know we all look forward to seeing her soar in this new chapter in her career!
Leadership transitions can be challenging for any organization. However, after serving as HealthierHere’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) these past five years, I am confident that we are ready to ride these waves of change together. In the face of uncertainty, we must keep our eyes on the horizon to continually improve the health and welltoward-being of the people in our region and beyond. My north star will always be: What is best for HealthierHere? I will strive to ensure that HealthierHere continues to be a trusted organization that uplifts and exemplifies our values of equity, partnership, community, innovation, and results.
While I have had the pleasure of building relationships with many of you, I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to our community more fully.
I am married with three children – two girls and a boy. Just two weeks ago my grandson, Christopher, was born and I was officially promoted to Grandmother! We also have a cat named Theo, who some of you may have seen on Zoom in our meetings. My happy places include playing in my garden, baking for others' enjoyment, learning to play pickleball, traveling, yoga, reading, and tending to my five chickens. My motto is to work hard and play hard.
I also come from an immigrant family. In 1975 my parents, four siblings and I escaped Vietnam and arrived in the U.S. with only each other. I have never been able to fully comprehend the magnitude of my parents’ decision to leave their homeland with five young children, armed only with the determination to give us better lives. We were welcomed by our new community and shown a kindness and grace that we will forever be grateful for. My parents subsequently instilled in us a dedication to make a positive impact in our community and every day at HealthierHere I continue to work toward this goal.
I graduated from Western Washington University with dual degrees in Business Administration and Accounting. After working for a CPA firm in Bellingham for three years with a portfolio focused on taxes, I realized that my passions lay elsewhere. My husband and I decided to move to Olympia to pursue State service. I began my state career by working for the Office of Financial Management and later the Judicial Branch. I eventually shifted back to the Executive Branch with the WA State Department of Social and Health Services, landing in health care, which I just loved. I learned all about Medicaid and health care services and began to appreciate the complexity and impact of the issues that our community faces when healthcare is not accessible to everyone.
I later joined the WA Health Care Authority (HCA) as their CFO. I was actively involved in the Medicaid Transformation Project (MTP) Waiver that funded the Accountable Communities of Health (ACH) - working on the team that got the waiver approved by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. After the waiver was approved and HCA started going through its own leadership change, I realized I needed time to refresh and find a new direction.
When the CFO role at HealthierHere became available, I knew it was a special opportunity. To be involved with the ACHs on this side of the waiver, at the community level, drew me in instantly. I officially joined HealthierHere at the start of the organization in October 2017. When I began this role, I told Susan, “The organization – and its people – will always be my center.”
It is an honor to have been offered the opportunity to serve as the Interim CEO for HealthierHere. It is safe to say that there will be meaningful challenges ahead. We are arriving at a crucial point in our organization’s trajectory. The current MTP work is nearly complete and will provide a solid foundation for our future. I plan to build upon this groundwork and keep our momentum moving forward by continuing to work with our partners to elevate HealthierHere’s mission and build a healthier community through collaboration.
In the months ahead, we have a lot of meaningful work to continue. The following priorities have been identified by HealthierHere’s leadership team:
- Complete internal operations improvements to support all our work
- Complete our 2022 investments
- Build the 2023 Admin and project budgets
- Continue to build infrastructure for the Connect2 Community Network and Care Connect Community Hub
- Continue the WA Integrated Care Assessment work, the Health Literacy Project and City of Seattle grants
- Plan and launch the Regional Equity Action Network
- Prepare for the transition to stand up the 501C3 rt
- Prepare for the new MTP waiver
- Launch a new website for HealthierHere, reflecting who we are and where we are going
My leadership philosophy is to be open, approachable, and action oriented. My goal is to enable staff to grow, shine, and use their super-powers! I hope to support an organization where everyone in the organization is accountable to themselves and to each other. To that end, I want to ensure that our internal operations and infrastructure are set up to usher in HealthierHere 2.0 so that we can advance our work with continued success. My vision is for HealthierHere to be an interactive, integrated, and laterally oriented organization that is effective and makes impactful and long-lasting contributions to our communities.
Over the last five years, we’ve collectively built an organization that I am immensely proud to be a part of. Every day, I remain motivated to make a difference in the health and well-being of our community, and I see this same drive in each member of our Board and staff.
Thank you for entrusting me to serve as the Interim CEO and for contributing your unique gifts and experiences to help bring HealthierHere’s mission and vision to life. I look forward to deepening our partnerships in this new chapter.