The Foundation has stated it wants to help communities become age-friendly. How do you see the Foundation having the greatest impact in this area?
Tufts Health Plan Foundation has a great reputation as a leader and convener around issues facing older adults. We are also a strategic thought partner and that is due to our strong team of community investors. They, together with community stakeholders, know the key to success is to honor the work that is already happening in communities rather than try to reinvent the wheel.
We want to identify what is working, while also supporting communities as they improve processes or bring new partners to the table. This strategy tacitly supports our high-level goal of making Massachusetts a national leader in age-friendly communities. To achieve this hope, we need to extend the idea of "Health in All Policies" to be inclusive of older adults in a more deliberate way.
We also need to strengthen our relationships. Our Building Age-Friendly Communities Summit, in partnership with The Boston Foundation, is a great example of extending the relationships the Foundation has established already to bring new partners and "unusual" suspects together around a common agenda. The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is another great example of people collectively addressing issues with a vision for healthy aging across the state.
You've said that "we don't do this work alone." What other steps are you taking to build partnerships and bring people together?
The Foundation emphasizes collaboration and the idea of shared value and collective impact because we know that we can have a greater chance of accomplishing more on any issue if we work together with the community. We meet them where they are, and that's a different place depending on the community.
We also don't expect community organizations to do this work alone. After reviewing some grant requests in our recent cycle, we are excited to see that organizations are not applying alone. In the past, we saw requests for discreet, individual programs; now requests are coming in for process support, capacity development, and ideas to help bring other partners to the table. Several of those grant applications demonstrate existing collaborations between public and private partners. People are already on this journey or want to join in this journey, and that is inspiring.
You also have the role of vice president for corporate citizenship at Tufts Health Plan. How do you see your work at the Foundation intersecting with the work of the health plan?
Some might consider dual roles as a balancing act - I see them as a leveraging act. When we begin to leverage the largesse of the health plan, the wisdom of its staff and the opportunities for boots-on-the-ground volunteerism within our communities, then add our community investments on the Foundation side, we see great things happen. We want our engagement and participation to be more integrated and strategic; that way the benefit to the community is more holistic.
Our mission is to support the health and wellness of the diverse communities we serve, and our company cannot be healthy if our communities aren't healthy. We have some incredible assets (staff time, money and skills), and we're charged with investing those assets in a way that benefits community. It's why we exist.
Looking back and looking forward, tell us what you're most proud of over the past year and what you are most excited about in this new role.
I've learned quickly that I have an incredible team at the Foundation. With their support and passion, we've accomplished great things together. We are reaching new people with our message of building age-friendly communities. I'm most excited about deepening our relationships and reaching new communities, especially as the health plan expands its services to New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Ultimately, we want to be less top-down and more collaborative and inclusive. Our goal is to reframe the Foundation's impact by being a strategic partner in facing issues together.