Our vision of improving health care for vulnerable older adults and young children impacted by poverty depends on the work of advocates in the community. When the leaders at local non-profits share a sense of purpose, they can work together to solve the region’s toughest health issues.
Every day, there’s growing pressure on those leaders to deliver better health outcomes at lower costs, in a health care sector undergoing vast regulatory and technological changes. On top of that are the challenges faced by many non-profits: working within silos results in gaps or duplication of services, inefficient use of data and missed opportunities to share best practices.
To build a network of skilled leaders who will take on these challenges collaboratively, the Foundation created the Health Leadership Fellows program. One of our earliest and longest-running programs, the Fellows program has trained hundreds of non-profit professionals on leadership, communication and collaboration since 2005.
Each cohort of fellows is made up of about 40 professionals from health-related and safety net organizations throughout western and central New York.
The intensive 18-month program includes four two- to three-day residential sessions on topics including personal leadership, leading change, communicating as a leader and results-based leadership and collaboration. Ongoing learning happens between sessions, where fellows work together on an inter-organizational project in small teams. Each fellow also gets executive coaching and access to the program’s learning materials.
Graduates of the Health Leadership Fellows program continue their collaborative work as members of the Fellows Action Network.
More than 200 leaders in western and central New York have graduated from Health Leadership Fellows since the program began.
Taking what they’ve learned from the expert faculty, residential sessions, leadership assessments and coaching sessions, fellows have used new information, relationships and ideas to improve health care for the most vulnerable people in our regions.
In fact, many of the projects begun by fellows have thrived and grown, as alumni continue their collaboration through the Fellows Action Network. Today, their projects are still benefitting the health of older adults and children impacted by poverty.
Through a Social Network Analysis, we have been able to see a picture of how relationships cultivated through the Fellows program have resulted in collaborations, and how those collaborations have improved health outcomes.
For example, one successful network formed by FAN members is the Trauma-Informed Community Initiative of WNY Coalition. It began in 2008, when a small group of Health Leadership Fellows began developing ideas for a volunteer network to provide services informed by an understanding of trauma.
The initial group included three members of the first class of fellows: Jim Casion, now retired CEO of Baker Victory Services; Kate Grimm, M.D.; and Dennis C. Walczyk, CEO of Catholic Charities. Today, seven fellows are members of the coalition.
With funding from the Health Foundation, the group is working to develop and implement a Greater Buffalo Trauma-Informed System of Care Community Plan.