August 9, 2019

Encouraging Systemic Change in Health & Wellness

It has already been a month since I joined the Alliance Healthcare Foundation as its new executive director, and I am even more energized about our opportunities to encourage systemic change in health and wellness in San Diego and Imperial counties. It has been a month of listening, learning and meeting many of the dedicated and innovative stakeholders that are part of the health and wellness community. If you and I have not yet met, I look forward to a future opportunity to do so during my continuing efforts to become part of this caring community.

I don’t think there could have been a more exciting time to join Alliance. I came on board the organization just in time to witness the announcement of the winners of the $1 million Innovation Initiative (i2), the largest private health and wellness competitive award of its kind in the nation. While the funding is important, Alliance’s dedication and evolution of this competition is significant, too. For ten years, Alliance has been seeking innovation, awarding more than $12 million to the winners. For almost six months, Alliance staff and a team of consultants, led by i2 Journey Guide Ricardo Dos Santos provided almost weekly training in finance, presentations, and leadership to the 25 semi-finalists and then the six finalists. While it requires a significant commitment from the participants, the hope is that it serves as an invaluable gift to elevate the field and increase the likelihood of transformational impact for the populations Alliance serves.

Alliance, like many foundations across the country, is constantly evaluating how it can have the most positive impact with limited resources. The organization aims to activate as much of its capital as possible – including the endowed corpus – in ways that advance the mission and accelerate systemic positive change. To that end, Alliance makes a variety of investments ranging from traditional grants to “impact investments” that are aligned to the mission. These investments are largely focused on helping to fuel innovative models that disrupt the status-quo.

To channel as many resources as possible directly into the community, Alliance actively supports efforts with the potential of generating both a social and financial return on investment. This results in shifting more capital from traditional investment vehicles (e.g., the stock market), directly into community efforts that advance the mission.

Alliance believes health and wellness is a fundamental human right. While the Foundation is focused on health, research shows that clinical healthcare makes up only about 20 percent of a person’s health. To achieve Alliance’s vision that all people can reach their full health and wellness potential, it is critical to address health equity and the social determinants of health (safe and stable housing, quality education, economic stability and food security, etc.). These factors contribute far more to a person’s overall well-being than just healthcare alone.

At the i2 winners’ reception on July 19, 2019, I was delighted to hear the public testimony of two prominent members of the San Diego health and wellness community endorsing our work and emphasizing commitment to continued partnership. Nick Macchione, the Director of San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency, and Mark Stuart, the newly appointed CEO of the The San Diego Foundation, both shared words of inspiration to continue fostering innovation and collaboration for the betterment of all people in this region. I look forward to building upon existing foundational partnerships like these, as well as catalyzing new partnerships that invite others to co-invest with Alliance in catalyzing the systemic change that results in better health for all.

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