Thank you all so very, very much. I’m incredibly honored, but I’m the one who should be thanking the HBA…for being my rock, for believing in my leadership skills and for giving me the opportunity to work with and learn from some of healthcare’s greatest leaders.
I’m just an ordinary person volunteering like so many. I’ll probably never be a CEO or US Secretary of Health, but I can tell you that when the time comes that I’m pondering my legacy, it’ll come down to two things, raising kids who make their own unique difference in the world, and the lives I’ve touched through volunteering.
Just a few weeks ago Steven Colbert asked Bill Clinton, “Why help other people? What’s in it for you?” Bill Clinton responded,“It makes me happy.” Four simple words… It makes me happy.
Many of us in this room will make very meaningful contributions without making it to the corner suite, and we have to keep in mind that leadership isn’t just about impacting on the workplace… it’s about making your impact count. That’s what brought me to the HBA so many years ago.
Though I play other volunteer roles that “make me happy” – serving as board chair for HealthyWomen is one– when I first learned about the HBA and its commitment to preparing up-and-coming women leaders to address the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges, I was hooked.
So let me go back and tell you how I got here. It’s the year 2000 and I’m at an HBA program hosted by Cathy Sohn, who later will be named the 2003 WOTY. It stands out as a Red Letter Day because Cathy takes me by the arm to an HBA board member and proclaims, “Meet Eve, your newest volunteer!” The next thing I knew, I was chairing an evening program, and by 2002 serving on the Metro chapter board. I then found myself helping to launch the Greater Philadelphia chapter, co-chairing two leadership conferences, and then being invited to serve on the HBA board.
And that brings me to my proudest and most enriching experience as an HBA volunteer, heading up stakeholder engagement and helping shape the mindful way in which we’ve expanded the HBA community to encompass all sectors of healthcare: manufacturers, payers, non-profits and more. This in turn has helped our members develop strong cross-industry relationships, and broadened our thinking on how we approach the current issues in healthcare. Issues like patient empowerment, access to care, and the need to drive medical innovation.
It’s allowed the HBA to help foster the development of the unique perspectives and values that women as healthcare leaders, as volunteers, and as decision makers for our families, bring to the changing face of healthcare.
How has this impacted on me? Truth be told, I’d already found a couple of gray hairs by the time I found the HBA, but my exposure to such a diversity of individuals and their life experiences — and the scope of HBA roles I’ve been privileged to play — really guided me in refining and redirecting my own leadership focus. I wouldn’t be doing the patient engagement work I do today if it hadn’t been for the challenging and inspiring words I’ve heard from this very dais. You can’t work alongside visionary leaders like our past and present WOTYs and Honorable Mentors –which HBA volunteering makes possible –and not commit yourself 100% to the principle that it all starts and ends with the patient.
I know I haven’t even scratched the surface on the multitude of ways in which HBA helps build leadership paths. For me it’s the way it’s opened my eyes to the impacts that women healthcare leaders can make beyond the workplace. My personal passion is to help amplify the voice of the patient, and better engage them in decision-making. So in the spirit of serving the patient, the importance of which has been voiced by many of our WOTYs, I’d like to offer you a leadership appeal.
Tightening guidelines are having an unintended consequence on many of the patient advocacy groups that rely on corporate support and volunteers — to fulfill their missions. Many have cut programs, and some have even had to close their doors. The HBA does not enter the realm of politics or policy. But it is helping shape tomorrow’s leaders and giving women leaders a distinct opportunity to serve as agents of change. So I’m asking you all to use your abundant talents in ways that you can make a difference. I encourage you to consider how you can use your strong voice as a volunteer to support the advocacy groups and help them to keep their doors open to the patients we all strive to serve.
I want to close by dedicating this award to my dearest friend Peggy Heller, and leave you with a story about how she used her voice as a volunteer. Peggy, who sadly lost a five year battle with ovarian cancer last fall, was a staunch volunteer for many organizations, including the HBA. In the final years of her life Peggy undertook the most meaningful volunteer role of all— she helped organize and served on a patient advocacy panel that spoke at many medical schools, helping new doctors to understand how important it is to really look at patients for who they are, and not as their disease. And through these hundreds of young doctors she touched, Peggy’s volunteer impact and legacy will be paying forward for years to come. Peggy, this award’s for you!
My dear HBA family, thank you again for this amazing honor. And for bringing me the joy of friendship with so many remarkable women and men