Four local corner stores, a statewide insurance coverage coalition, a neighborhood collaboration and a municipal planning effort along the light rail line all have at least three things in common. They are among the latest in a two-decade line of efforts that exemplify what we believe it takes to improve health and well-being. They demonstrate the capacity of stakeholders and unlikely partners to combine in unexpected and powerful ways. And, they are collectively part of a health improvement movement extending far beyond anything that could have been foreseen when this organization’s original Board of Trustees first convened twenty years ago.
Vitalyst Health Foundation has invested more than $100 million toward creating a healthier, more resilient Arizona since that first board meeting in 1996. We didn’t come close to doing it alone. The last two decades have been spent in partnership with thousands of people, hundreds of stakeholders and dozens of like-minded collaborators. They have come from the State Capitol and from some of our most disenfranchised neighborhoods. Their heritage has ranged from Native American to newly-arrived refugee. The perspectives, experiences and insights that we have gained in the process are far too numerous to count. By far, these connections and collaborations represent the greater part of Vitalyst’s true wealth twenty years later.
It has been a long and winding road. It has been an illuminating and rewarding one as well. Through it all our primary direction has been clear. The work may manifest by addressing statewide systemic issues, or in an effort to establish a community garden. Regardless, our “true north” is a focus on catalyzing efforts to improve health across four priorities:
- Access to Care and Coverage – because people with health coverage achieve better well-being and health
- Healthy Community Design – because health is created where we live, work, learn and play
- Community Capacity Building – because dynamic and healthy communities are based on civic participation that propels policy and systems change
- Innovation and Collaboration – because policies and systems are transformed for the better by aligning insightful partners and taking significant risks
In this report, we have reflected on our journey down each of these four roads. Detours, roadblocks and the occasional dead end have been essential to our progress – and to developing our capacity to learn and grow through every mile traveled. This history provides a window into our organizational soul, and it undoubtedly contains the seeds of our work for the years to come.
One thing is clear. Since that first convening of Trustees in 1996 we have never lost our appetite for learning and discovery. In fact, it has yielded some of our greatest successes.
As we reflect on our past and continue down the road toward a healthy and vibrant future for Arizona, we are excited to discover what revelations, directions and successes come next. Please join us in that journey.
Suzanne Pfister Gary Volkenant
President & CEO Board Chairman