I’ve always been intrigued by history and the genesis of things. In high school, I spent a great deal of time recording oral histories of aging relatives and tracking down the story of my ancestry. My paternal great grandpa was a bread baker in Ghent, Belgium before immigrating to the US and my maternal ancestors were wheat farmers who immigrated to upstate New York in the 1700s—making me a 10th generation American. I firmly believe that historical narratives matter and these ancestral stories and experiences deeply shape who I am today. Similarly, I’m intrigued by the history of our great organization, and how it’s shaped our path forward today.
This year, Center for Health Progress celebrates its 20th year. To prepare for this exciting occasion, late last year at our all Board and staff retreat, we explored our organizational history in-depth by mapping accomplishments and major moments on a 20-year timeline. We had Board members in the room who have been with us since our founding as the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved, staff members who had been on board for a few short months, and everything in between. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Our core values have remained constant – Although the health care landscape and our state’s challenges have changed significantly over the past twenty years, the core values that lay the foundation for all of Center for Health Progress’s work haven’t wavered. As evidenced by our new health equity commitment, some of these values have come into sharper focus over the years, but we have always believed that our health care system should work for all Coloradans regardless of race, income, or ZIP code.
- Our alumni family is impressive in size and impact – We’ve had dozens of staff and Board members dedicate countless hours to reaching our mission and vision over the past two decades. We’ve always been steadfastly committed to developing leaders who make an impact, not just while on our team, but long after they move on to other ventures. To be sure, we stand on the shoulders of giants in our work. Those who have left our team are a veritable who’s who in health policy and systems change, and continue to tirelessly work toward realizing our mission and vision.
- Our issues are complex, but change is possible – From the creation of the Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) insurance plan in 1998, to the passage of Amendment 35 in 2004, to the successful passage and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act over the past seven years, we’ve seen important wins and made significant progress toward our goals. It’s often difficult to parse out and celebrate victories in the short-term when working on large-scale issues like health care access for all, but when looking at a 20-year time horizon its clear change is possible.
Speaking from personal experience, it’s powerful to be a part of an organization that lives its values, has a deep network, and has tangible evidence of progress on its goals. As we look to the next twenty years, I know our current and future team will use this rich historical narrative as motivation and inspiration to realize our vision that all Coloradans have the opportunity to live a healthy life.