A Special Interview: March 2022
What do you consider to be the most important issue facing Baltimore County and how are you working to address it?
CareFirst is a nonprofit organization driven by our mission of making healthcare affordable and accessible to our members and the communities that we serve, including Baltimore County. Integral to our mission is support for organizations and programs that help people who lack adequate access to healthcare or cannot meet basic living needs.
From 2017-2021, CareFirst provided more than $1.8 million in grants and sponsorships to support core programming addressing access to care, behavioral health services, and more. Recent grant investments serving Baltimore County include:
- Family Crisis of Baltimore County: $10,000 in 2018 to support enrichment and nutrition programming for families exposed to Intimate Partner Violence.
- Community College of Baltimore County Foundation: $89,808 in 2019 to support simulation education for nursing education and other allied health services.
- Baltimore County of Chamber of Commerce: $5,000 in 2021 to support core programming and services for the business community of Baltimore County.
- Baltimore County Health Department: $50,000 in 2021 to enhance upstream, community-driven interventions through authentic partnership and engagement with communities to address diabetes.
In addition to providing financial support, CareFirst associates are actively involved volunteering in the communities in which they live and work. In 2021, CareFirst associates donated 1,199.31 hours to charitable organizations directly serving or headquartered in Baltimore County. Personally, I helped to organize a training this year co-sponsored by CareFirst, the Pro-Bono Resource Center, and the Homeless Persons Representation Project to learn how Maryland attorneys can assist pro bono clients in our region in the expungement of criminal records that hinder their ability to access basic needs and professional opportunities.
I am grateful to work with colleagues that are both personally and professionally committed to improving our communities, and for an organization that empowers us to do so.
What do you want people to know about challenges for health care insurance providers?
CareFirst believes that healthcare needs transformation. Costs are too high and quality lags. Access and outcomes vary widely based on factors like race and income. There are provider workforce shortages in a number of critical care areas, such as behavioral health.
To create a better healthcare experience, we must transform it. This is our call to action. To this end, CareFirst is engaged in a number of workstreams to enhance care to support people’s complete health and well-being-physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are creating innovative solutions that drive better health outcomes through partnerships, data, and technology and we are collaborating with policymakers to remove barriers and create incentives to place care at the forefront. We are championing the right to access affordable, quality care and improving health equity for all we serve, and we are investing in community programs that support these critical endeavors.
There is much work to be done, but CareFirst is committed to driving these critical changes in our region.
How are you inspiring the next generation of public service leaders?
I have been fortunate throughout my career to work for and with smart and innovative leaders in insurance, public policy, and government affairs, who luckily for me, have been willing to share their experiences and advise on my professional growth. I strive to pay this kindness forward and to invest energy in “the next generation” as they develop and progress in their own professional pursuits. To those who much has been given, much is expected.
What life experience has most shaped who you are as a leader?
Waitressing. I gave that answer when I applied for my first law clerkship in the summer of 2009, and it remains true today. I spent a good bit of time in the food service industry waitressing and bartending to earn extra income as I pursued my education and early in my career. The lessons I learned during that time about humility, hustle and grit, time-management, and maintaining composure and customer service with all types of people in a high volume, fast paced environment, are things that I apply every day as a leader. I hope that each of my four daughters will do a stint in the service industry as part of their professional development — it keeps you humble, reminds you that we’re all human, and gives you unique perspective on how to deal with challenges as you juggle tasks and manage people.
In your opinion, what personal trait is most important to being a good leader and why?
Humility. Good leaders consider themselves to be part of the team, not just the team captain. They are not “above” any tasks necessary to move the mission forward, no matter how elementary or tedious. They take ownership of wins and losses of the people that support them, give credit to others generously and often, and are not afraid to ask themselves or others how they can do better. Good leaders do not think that they “know everything” — to the contrary, they are constantly striving to learn new things and refine old ideas, informed by diverse opinions, including those contrary to their own. Strong leaders know how to meet all personalities where they are and respect everyone they encounter, including and especially adversaries. It is in these traits that leaders earn the respect and loyalty of a diverse array of teammates and colleagues, internal and external to their organization.