It is no secret that transitions are hard. Even with exciting new opportunities, saying goodbye to friends and the familiar and heading into uncharted territory can be challenging. And so it was for me.
Having returned to Phoenix after three years in Washington, DC, and barely four days into my new role as President and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives (SLHI), I found myself in a room full of the leaders of Maryvale on the Move, one of SLHI’s exciting community-based initiatives. As I sought to get oriented to the agenda and a new set of colleagues, I was unaware of the gift they were about to bestow on me. As attendees went around the room introducing themselves, I was transported to my previous sojourns in Arizona and reminded why it was so good to be back home. One of the meeting participants was from the Wesley Community Center. The Center, located only a few blocks from where, over three decades ago, I held my first job in Arizona, was an important partner in our work as we addressed the needs of the old Golden Gate neighborhood. Then a staff leader from Rehoboth Community Development Corporation introduced herself and I was reminded of the more recent partnership we were able to forge during my tenure as the Director of the Arizona Department of Housing that led to Rehoboth Place, their wonderful housing project. Unbeknownst to any of the folks in attendance they had helped to reconnect me to this community that has given so much to me over the years.
As I settle into this wonderful new opportunity to be part of the SLHI team and the exciting work being done in community development, health policy and public education, I know that transitions are also hard for our partners. It is human nature to wonder how things are going to change with new leadership and to be a bit anxious about how that will affect the relationships that have been developed and nurtured over the years.
So, let me offer some initial thoughts on the future of SLHI. No doubt, things will change, just as they will with your organizations. But, the board and staff of SLHI place great value on the relationships we have forged with our community partners, and we are committed to change that is based on the lessons we are learning together about community needs, assets and new opportunities.
Change will come, but it will not come simply for change’s sake and it will not be precipitous. It will be based on our collective interest and commitment to new directions. Over the next few months I will be reaching out to our partners to hear your visions for Arizona and how you think SLHI can be a partner in your vision. I look forward to the opportunity to hear what you are learning from your work and what you see as the best path to a better and healthier future for this state.