By Jason Patnosh (@CHC_JPatnosh), National Director, Community HealthCorps & Associate Vice President, National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC.)
Over 15 years ago I started an internship with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) and the Community HealthCorps. We were only two staff and one intern (me!) with just under 100 AmeriCorps members across eight states. Since then I have served Community HealthCorps in several functions, and as a team with our partners, we have grown the program to 535 AmeriCorps members across 16 states and Washington, DC. For the last eight years I have had the honor to be the National Director for the program. I came in during a rough patch for the program fully committed to ensure its stabilization and longevity. Today, we are a well-oiled machine, that even with our bumps along the way, is agile and responsive to the needs in our health care system.
It has been my honor to be entrusted with this important role and to ensure Community HealthCorps has been a voice in the national service movement. Leading this program has allowed me:
- the opportunity to be in the presence of President Obama and all of the living Presidents (multiple times), Vice Presidents, and First Ladies;
- to be at the table to help shape the Edward M Kennedy Serve America Act and work with congressional leaders to shape the future of national service;
- the chance to work with heroes and mentors so early in my career that it has empowered me to also develop future leaders for the national service movement; and
- to see America and the impact national service makes in the lives of millions served by community health centers.
It is with great excitement to share that I will be stepping down at the end of this month and that Gerrard Jolly (@JustJolly), our current deputy director, will be stepping into the role of National Director for the Community HealthCorps. Gerrard continues a long belief for the program that we can grow leaders who will do amazing things. Already very accomplished as a past National Park Ranger and non-profit leader, Gerrard has become one of the most respected voices in the movement by his colleagues for his knowledge, leadership, and humor. He has been a leader internally at NACHC and within the AmeriCorps movement—coordinating an affinity group of other health-related AmeriCorps programs and often being asked to speak at conferences. Last year Gerrard was selected as an American Express NGen Fellow through Independent Sector where he helped to shape an important report for the non-profit community – Strategies for Talent Diversity. Gerrard has been a trusted colleague and friend to me personally over his seven years with the program. I have full confidence he will be a transformational leader in the years to come and I will be there to support him along the way. Over the next few weeks Gerrard will further introduce himself and his vision for leading the program into our next 20 years.
During any transition it is often a bittersweet moment for the outgoing leader to give up the day-to-day role with the team. I have had such a great team for so many years and even when there has been transition I have remained close to those who have moved on to other opportunities that I like to say we helped them discover during their time with us. I would be remiss though if I did not single out Pamela Ferguson (our soon to be new Deputy Director). Pam and I have worked together since day one when she was a program coordinator in Lubec, ME for us. When she told me over a decade ago that she was leaving the health center I offered the opportunity to come to NACHC where she has been ever since. Pam’s commitment to this program and the health center movement is an inspiration. She is a tireless champion, an AmeriCorps Alum of this program, and a friend.
I can go on for days about all of the good this program has provided for me, and I hope I have provided at least as much to the program. I am fortunate that I will continue to be with NACHC in a new role focused on development and partnerships. NACHC has provided me an amazing opportunity to help shape a stronger NACHC and health center movement, and I thank Tom Van Coverden, CEO and Dave Taylor, COO, and many others who have supported my trajectory over the last 15 years.
I have committed my life and career to ensure the medically underserved are provided access to primary and preventive health care and I’m thrilled to take on these new adventures.
Thank you and in service to all,