Inaugural Community of Practice Held March 12th

A printed program and pen on a lime green table.

In the morning of Monday, March 12, 2018, HealthSpark Foundation hosted the inaugural Community of Practice meeting to kick off its new Safety Net Resiliency Initiative. 

Nearly 150 attendees representing 83 organization packed into the atrium in Parkhouse Hall on the main campus of the Montgomery County Community College.

President and CEO Russ Johnson welcomed the crowd, and was followed by Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners who spoke about the county's commitment to ensuring the safety net remains strong and builds its resilience.

Russ and Meghan McVety of Capacity for Change gave an overview of the initiative, including introducing the four Design Teams. Fifty-three organizations applied to HealthSpark Foundation in January 2018 to participate in one or more Design Teams. Over the next six months, Meghan will facilitate monthly meetings with each Design Team to explore solutions and project ideas to strengthen the county's safety net. 

Topic areas for the Design Teams were crowdsourced at two events held by the foundation in fall 2017:

  • Public-Private Collaboration
  • No Wrong Door Access
  • Data Sharing and Systems Integration
  • Advocacy and Communications

John MacIntosh of SeaChange Capital Partners in New York provided both context and a sense of urgency for this work. Citing the recently released report, "A National Imperative," John offered a description of the current financial precariousness of the health and human services sector and challenged attendees to think about how they can have even greater, more transformational impact. He theorized that a stronger human services sector could even reduce health care spending. John's slides are available to download below.

Following John, Senior Policy Advisor to Your Way Home Montgomery County Jason Alexander discussed the challenges and successes of the decade-long systems change work in the county's housing and homelessness system. He gave the following five insights:

  1. Start with Why - Systems starts with the question WHY, not HOW
  2. Embrace Uncertainty
  3. Failure = Success
  4. Communications are Essential
  5. Everyone Must Change

Jason's remarks are also available to download below.

To jumpstart the work of the Design Teams, Meghan led Community of Practice attendees through a process to share their assessment of Montgomery County's safety net system in each area. 

Key messages from what they shared included:

  • Montgomery County benefits from safety net service providers, community leaders, and residents who are committed to service, collaboration, and making the community stronger for everyone.
  • Currently, the safety net system is fragmented and not as effective as it could be.
  • Opportunities for increased coordination and effectiveness abound.
  • Ensuring consumers are at the center of all solutions is essential, including in the design of solutions and assessing what the end result will be.
  • Achieving systemic change in each area will require an openness to new ideas, a shift away from a competitive mindset, resources, and time.

The second Community of Practice, during which Design Teams will share their progress, analysis and preliminary ideas, will be held June 4, 2018 from 9:30am – 12:30pm (location TBD). Details and sign-up information will be coming soon.