Welcome to our new ED Amy Ramirez!

The Healthcare Foundation will soon have a new Executive Director! Get ready to welcome Amy Ramirez to our team!

Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to announce that Amy Ramirez will be joining the Healthcare Foundation as the new executive director starting May 28. After a rigorous search process, the Board of Directors and staff unanimously and with great joy selected Amy as the new leader of the organization, to take over from Kim Bender as she retires from full-time work. Kim will continue to support Amy’s transition through the end of June. 

Meanwhile, Amy is wrapping up nine years at Providence, where she most recently led the Sonoma County Community Health Investment team. In that role, Amy oversaw vital public health programs and administered community wide grants to nonprofits and initiatives aimed at addressing social determinants of health. She also led the development of their 2023 Sonoma County Community Health Needs Assessment and 2024 Community Health Improvement Plan, two essential documents based on community input that provide guidance for all nonprofits in the health space, including the Healthcare Foundation.

We could not be more thrilled to have Amy lead us toward our vision of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County.  We hope you will join us at Noche de Amor on June 8 to welcome Amy as our new ED! In addition, we are hosting a lunchtime Zoom Meet & Greet, open to all, on Tuesday, June 11 at noon. Please register here.

With gratitude,

Wanda Tapia-Thomsen
Chair, Board of Directors

Below is an excerpt from a recent conversation with Amy regarding the needs of our community, and why she’s excited to take the helm of the Healthcare Foundation as we move into the future. More to come in our May Newsletter!

What are the major trends you believe we should be paying most attention to, and what are the greatest challenges associated with them?

In my work as a medical social worker as well as a senior manager of a variety of public health programs, it’s become clear to me how systemic our issues are. Here in Sonoma County, as well as nationally, economic insecurity paired with systemic racism is the source of many other issues we’re seeing—including behavioral health issues, substance use issues, homelessness, housing insecurity, even the isolation experienced by our aging population and the lack of care extended to our aging population. People are not economically secure enough to take care of themselves or their loved ones. I always relate things back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: People are working so hard to meet their basic needs that they’re not able to meet those higher-level needs, including the needs of those who depend on them. 

And because there’s so much unexamined racism built into our structures and institutions, our BIPOC population is in general feeling the economic insecurity even more acutely, as well as all the other determinants of health that come with that. 

“The Healthcare Foundation stood out to me because it is so forward-thinking….It’s very exciting to be joining such an organization, and I’m truly honored to be taking the torch to lead this incredible work.”

Amy Ramirez

What are the most effective, promising things that you see being done in the healthcare realm to address these challenges, here in northern Sonoma County?

The reason I love the work of the Healthcare Foundation is because all of its initiatives and grants go towards both addressing critical issues impacting health, such as behavioral health, and doing so in a way that addresses the systemic barriers (racism and discrimination and other sources of inequity) that exist within and perpetuate those issues. For example, the Mental Health Talent Pipeline addresses a huge lack of access to bilingual and bicultural mental health services for Spanish-speaking people. By helping Latinx and Indigenous folks get scholarships so that they can pursue higher level degrees, the program in turn benefits the entire community, because we will have this new group of culturally appropriate and responsive mental health providers. 

Amy Ramirez and Wanda Tapia-Thomsen

Also our Promotoras work: community health work is so up-and-coming and evidence-based, demonstrating that having culturally appropriate and responsive folks going into the neighborhoods where they have the trust of the community can not only help people navigate the health system and social service systems but also create a sense of belonging, which is so important. When people feel taken care of, feel heard, and in a way that speaks to them and their culture, that goes far, it goes so far beyond what we’ve been doing to really move the dial in Sonoma County. 

I’m excited about the programs that the Healthcare Foundation is creating and supporting. The Healthcare Foundation stood out to me as an organization because it is so forward-thinking. To me, the work it’s doing mirrors the best work being done in San Francisco and the East Bay and more metropolitan areas, because it is so focused on racism, discrimination and equity within the systems of care it is operating in or on behalf of. It’s very exciting to be joining such an organization, and I’m truly honored to be taking the torch to lead this incredible work.

We invite you to join us for the Zoom Meet & Greet on June 11.

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