Looking Ahead at HealthSpark: A Note from Incoming President, CEO Emma Hertz

Dear community partners,

Happy new year! As I step in as President, CEO of HealthSpark Foundation, I’m excited to reconnect with you.

This time of year is an opportunity for both reflection and looking ahead, and for that reason it is an appropriate companion to HealthSpark’s own moment in time as a foundation. The Foundation’s last twenty years have been centered in strong leadership that advocated for partnerships, greater resources, and more equitable approaches within the safety net system in Montgomery County. The Foundation has crafted a singular place in our community as a convener, at times a disrupter, and most often as a steady voice for change.

My experience working in the safety net system in Montgomery County has shown me that there is incredible work being done in all corners of the county, as well as opportunity to connect and coordinate those efforts more effectively. As well, while our community has made notable commitments to addressing the impact of systemic discrimination on populations or neighborhoods, there is tremendous work to be done to make good on those commitments.

Philanthropy has a unique ability to both call attention to where we’re falling short, and to invest strategically in long-term solutions that will create a platform for change. As I look ahead, I’m excited by the ways in which our philanthropy can continue to serve as an innovative partner, a catalyst for new thinking, and a facilitator of new partnerships and opportunities.

Our work over the coming months speaks to those ideas:

  • On January 10th, the Foundation will open its second round of the Dr. Frank E. Boston Black Justice Fund grant program. We hope you’ll join us at our info sessions to learn more.
  • As of last month, HealthSpark released $670,000 in new grant funds to support the safety net system and continued advocacy efforts on its behalf. You can read more about those grants here.
  • I’m particularly excited about new research into needs of underserved populations within our community. First, we’re sharing the research findings from the Latinx/Latino Information Ecosystem Assessment, which provides recommendations for addressing the challenges in the information landscape for Spanish-speaking residents. Second, HealthSpark will be partnering with the Asian American Healthcare Coalition to conduct an Asian American Community Health Needs Assessment. Both projects will provide valuable insight to policymakers and community partners regarding the challenges of historically underserved and under-engaged communities.

While these projects and partnerships are exciting, what I’m most energized by is the opportunity to build even stronger relationships with our community that are centered on the pursuit of justice and belonging for everyone. I’d love to connect with you- by email, Zoom, or in person- and learn about what you’re experiencing and thoughts you have on how HealthSpark can continue to play its role as a partner, innovator, facilitator- and yes, disrupter- as we look ahead.

Finally, I'd like to offer my gratitude and thanks to HealthSpark's Board of Directors, staff and consultants, and Russ, for their steadfast support and guidance during this transition period. Their thoughtfulness and planning have made this a smooth and welcoming process.

I hope your year is off to a healthy, hopeful start. Talk to you soon.