Tiffany Donelson begins her tenure as the foundation’s president and CEO this week.
I am honored to become the president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation this week. When I came to the foundation in 2014, it was primarily because of the organization’s mission, to eliminate health disparities for people of color.
My entire career has focused on health care, but this work is not solely a professional interest. The goal of health equity is personal for me. I have watched too many friends and family members die prematurely because of their race. I have watched as loved ones were not given the respect we would all expect when seeking medical care, and I’ve seen relatives diagnosed too late with conditions that could be treatable if caught sooner. Our work at the foundation can be nuanced and complicated, but at root, we work to end these sorts of injustices and the conditions that cause them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on many of the problems the foundation has long worked to address. The health disparities that produce worse health outcomes for people of color are rooted in economic, educational, criminal justice, and employment disparities. We have seen the need for better collection and analysis of data on race and ethnicity to better track and address the virus. We have seen the link between health and the conditions of daily life, such as where people live and work and the resources they have. We have seen the need to ensure that everyone’s health concerns are treated seriously, that no one be turned away from care.
These challenges are not new and there is no quick fix to solve them. Patricia Baker, the founding president and CEO of this foundation, reminded us to be perseverant, and we will carry this persistence in our pursuit of equity for the state. We will continue to focus on systems change and to engage with a broad array of partners, stretching from businesses to grassroots community organizations, to help us develop sustainable solutions. We will be bold and continue to persevere in the quest for equal health for all.