Five years ago this month, my wife and I had our first child. In the years before his birth, we had been on a long journey to find a new last name to adopt jointly as a family. The process took us mentally down dozens of paths, and many times we felt it was perhaps an impossible task. After all, not many people ever go through the process of naming themselves. With it comes many hurdles of social acceptance and judgment. But, we had always known we wanted to share the same family name, and it just didn’t make any sense to us to just use mine, or just Haley’s, for that matter. Taking years to search for a name is quite intense and we eventually put ourselves into a state of “analysis paralysis” about it.
One late summer evening before Oliver was born, knowing that we had a deadline of baby’s birth to finalize our decision, we played around on the internet translating words into the languages of our ancestors. Guided by Utah Phillips’—one of our favorite poets—metaphor of our history being a river that we are all branches of, we discovered that several of our heritage languages have the word ‘sammen’ within their words for confluence. Defined alone, ‘sammen’ means together. We knew instantly that we had found our name.
In many ways, my personal name change journey mirrors the journey CCMU was on as an organization over the past six years. One of the first things I was a part of as a new staff member in 2011 was a discussion about whether we should change our name. In the years that followed, the question continued to come up, and we, too, entered into “analysis paralysis.” We knew it was time to make a change, but to what? Last year, led by our talented Director of Communications, Sarah McAfee, we finally landed on Center for Health Progress as the name that will carry us to new horizons and help us reach our goals as an organization in the coming years.
Why change our name? Well, in the 20 years since our founding, a lot has changed. Our communities face different health challenges. New policies mean new successes and new barriers to confront, and our approach must adapt to meet today’s needs. One of the shifts we’ve made is to work more closely with Coloradans to empower them to advocate for themselves. We also looked carefully at the messages we send to our stakeholders. What we learned is that our name had become a barrier in distinguishing us from the many health care advocacy organizations in our state and to being approachable to the everyday Coloradans we now call partners.
Our new name, Center for Health Progress, reflects the collaborative nature of our work. “Center” communicates the way we work together to ensure our health care system works for all Coloradans, and “Health Progress” is a reminder of the goal of our efforts. Our new name embraces the role we play as leaders and conveners, helps us be more approachable to all Coloradans, and reflects our optimism for the future.
Just like Haley and I were excited for new beginnings with our new last name and growing family, all of us at Center for Health Progress can’t wait to see where this new name and look will take us. What hasn’t changed, though—and will never change—is our commitment to bringing people together to ensure our health care system works for all Coloradans. Because when our neighbors are healthy, our communities prosper, and Colorado is stronger.