I am pleased to share with my colleagues, friends, and the broader field that I am the new Program Officer for The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Throughout my 13-year career, I have always been very fortunate to serve under dynamic leaders and beside amazing people on causes for which I care very deeply. Improving the care of older adults and their family caregivers is an important issue and one I am very excited to be working on at this point in my professional life.

A desire to serve is the common thread through the positions that have led me here. I started my career at the other end of the lifespan with Directions for Our Youth (DFOY), a small nonprofit that, at the time, developed and implemented supplemental education programs in some of the most challenging New York City public schools. I loved working with young people, and still do till this day. We were a small but mighty team, building relationships and serving as role models, educators, and organizers.

I then took a position at the National Urban League (NUL), one of the oldest civil rights and social service organizations in the country. There, I worked on technology programs and policy focused on bridging the digital divide, elevating literacy and other education programs onto dynamic digital platforms, and building corporate and community partnerships to help provide low-income and underserved communities access to 21st century jobs through workforce development training programs.

I left the National Urban League to pursue a Master of Public Administration degree through the National Urban Fellows (NUF) program (no relation to NUL). I knew that if I wanted to have a greater impact and engage in more systems change work, I had to attain more skills. I’m glad I did so that I can apply those skills to my work here at the Foundation, which focuses on large-scale systemic change.

As a requirement of the NUF program, I also embarked on a nine-month, full-time graduate internship while attending Baruch College-City University of New York (CUNY) full time. In the summer of 2006, I interviewed and received a nine-month internship opportunity with a then recently operational health conversion foundation that would later be named the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth).

Our core team spent the next nine months building NYSHealth, a statewide healthcare philanthropy devoted to improving the health of New Yorkers. After graduation, I would end up serving for another four-plus years with the foundation as a full-time employee, helping to develop and implement grantmaking processes and invest in projects that continue to positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of people across the state. Now, in my new role, I look forward to having an impact on millions of older adults and their families across the country.

My time with the incredible people who have served NYSHealth over its 10-year history has helped to instill a passion for health care and philanthropy within my consciousness. This passion will now be fulfilled at The John A. Hartford Foundation, as I work with the amazing team here to build age-friendly health systems that support and elevate family caregivers and spread best practices focused on serious illness and end-of-life care.

In the pursuit of further education, I moved to Indianapolis to work on an M.A. in Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). I knew that I wanted to learn more about philanthropy, but incorporating health and health care into my studies was also important to me. I was fortunate have the opportunity to spend my two years in Indianapolis working at the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem Inc., one of the largest private health insurance companies in the country. This work was intriguing because it was the practice of health care philanthropy through a totally different lens, engaging and activating the resources of the entire company (employees, departmental, in-kind, and monetary) to focus on health issues and advance goals around improved clinical and community health. I learned a great deal from my colleagues at the Anthem Foundation and am very fortunate to have served there and can now bring this wealth of experience with me going forward.   

After my time in Indianapolis, I came back home to New York City and received a unique opportunity, securing a position as a philanthropic relationship manager at U.S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management. There, I partnered with high net worth individuals and their families, as well as nonprofit organizations, to develop, pursue, and realize their philanthropic goals. I cherished those relationships and was constantly inspired by individuals, families, and organizations who wanted to transmit their social values and strategically deploy philanthropic resources to positively impact communities. Being of service to and connecting with philanthropically minded individuals and their families was a great privilege.

The opportunity I now have to serve as a Program Officer at The John A. Hartford Foundation is a tremendous one. I am grateful beyond measure to the Foundation for welcoming me. The leadership and the staff are some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, caring people I have ever met.

My new position is important to me personally, as well as professionally. Like so many others, I find that as I get older, so do those who raised me. My mother, the cornerstone and matriarch of our family, looks to me for guidance and support as she contemplates retirement and navigates the complex health care systems that she, with more frequency, now finds herself accessing for care. It is my responsibility to ensure that she receives the best care possible and ages with grace, dignity, and surrounded by love.

I bring this same responsibility to my work at the Foundation. The mission is as important to older adults and all of our families as it has ever been.