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A letter from our President and CEO, Anne Goodman

Posted January 08, 2018 in News Items

I had planned on writing a letter with reflections and highlights from 2017 as soon as I came back to the office after the New Year, yet I found my mind continually drifting to 2018 and the future, rather than the past.

It is true that 2017 was a momentous year for us. It marked our 20th anniversary as a foundation and we celebrated that milestone back here at the former Saint Luke’s hospital where we are housed with important partners. It’s where we began, and where we belong. In the last 20 years we have invested over $150,000,000 into community initiatives in our neighborhood and throughout Cuyahoga County. What a humbling testament to the great work being done by our partners.

As another way of commemorating our 20th year, writer and urban planner Justin Glanville completed a compilation of interviews with 20 people who were involved at different stages in the life of the Foundation thus far. Titled “Vision, Work and Change”, the book notes a particularly salient sentiment at the end:

“If there is one theme that emerges from the stories shared in these pages, it’s that the Saint Luke’s Foundation has derived much of its strength from its willingness to change and evolve to meet the community’s needs. We, the current board and staff, are proud to say that that willingness will continue into the future. As this book goes to press, the Foundation is on the precipice of yet another reinvention — a strategic plan to ensure that we continue to serve grantees, neighborhoods, and community members with both efficiency and compassion.”

Toward that end, the board approved a new vision and mission statement at their December 2017 board meeting as part of our strategic planning process. During the previous months of planning much of our conversation has been around health equity and racism, poverty and other social determinants of health. In that context, the board approved a new vision and mission statement at its December 2017 board meeting.

Our new vision is:

“People thrive as a result of living free of racism and poverty and experiencing equitable economic opportunities and conditions that enable them to lead healthier lives.”

In order to realize our vision, we have developed a mission to:

Achieve health equity by addressing social determinants of health for people in neighborhoods surrounding Saint Luke’s and throughout Cuyahoga County.

The above aspirations are based on these foundational principles:

  • Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity
  • Health disparities are differences in health among groups of people
  • Health inequities are differences in health that are unfair, unjust and avoidable
  • Overt and implicit racism must be confronted to reduce health and socio-economic disparities

These aspirations will necessitate changes in how we operate. Perhaps most notably, we will no longer have three distinct program areas. Our support will be focused on the social determinants of health, which are many: poverty, blight, housing quality, education, social connections, employment, safety, placemaking, greenspace, access to healthy food, and healthy behaviors to name a few.

We have already been addressing social determinants of health, but not with the intentionality and laser focus that we will have going forward. If you are interested in learning more about what determines health equity, click here to an article you might find of interest.

In the second half of our strategic planning process we will focus on strategies, implementation and evaluation, and we plan to have our board approve the full plan in early April.

When I wrote to you about our strategic plan in early November, I promised to keep you updated as we went along. Transparency is a value that we hold dear. Rest assured, we will continue to communicate with you on this in the coming months. In the meanwhile, I am more than happy to talk with you if you have questions.

All my best for an exciting, yet peaceful, 2018,