When opportunity knocks, sometimes you need a little encouragement to open the door.
Lucinda Bazile, who graduated from Healthforce Center’s Clinic Leadership Institute in 2009, credits the coaching she received during the program for reminding her that she should feel confident in taking on a CEO position.
Following her participation in the program, she was asked to operate a community health center being acquired by her employer, LifeLong Medical Care. The center’s CEO had stepped down and LifeLong needed someone to steer the organization through the merger process.
“Talking with my coach about my reservations as to whether I had the qualifications for this challenging situation, and if this would be a good move for me, was so helpful in deciding to say yes,” says Lucinda. “She reminded me that in order to grow I have to take chances, and she knew from working with me in CLI for 18 months that I could do it.”
Lucinda relied on everything she learned in CLI to integrate Brookside Community Health Center into LifeLong. One of the key lessons was the importance of creating and communicating a vision for the organization. “I knew that having a long-range vision — one that also talked about what was in it for everyone who works here — would reduce anxiety, encourage staff to stay with the organization through this process and allow us to continue serving the community well,” Lucinda says.
“If I had not participated in CLI, I don’t think I would have spent as much time on the vision. I would have focused more on the practical ‘Let’s get this done’ aspects,” she adds.
Being authentic — another quality she learned from CLI — helped ease the staff’s transition, too. Lucinda understood how being open, and willing to say you don’t know but can find an answer together, helps others relate to you and become more open themselves.
After successfully integrating Brookside into LifeLong, Lucinda was named LifeLong’s deputy director. She now also serves as second in command.
LifeLong Medical Care is a federally qualified health center program that serves approximately 45,000 low-income residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties who have limited or no healthcare insurance. Lucinda joined LifeLong 20 years ago after deciding to leave the field of accounting to work in community health and advocate for better healthcare for low-income people of color.
The skills and contacts she acquired from CLI serve her to this day. The strategic thinking and concepts that went into her CLI improvement project — developing a marketing program for LifeLong to capitalize on the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — help LifeLong build comprehensive strategies for increasing market share today, Lucinda says.
Marketing used to be a rarely used term among non-profit health centers, notes Lucinda. ACA changed that. Health centers no longer can solely rely on traditional outreach programs, such as staffing tables at community fairs. Health centers now have to promote themselves and their services, using advertising, social media and other marketing tools. The CLI improvement project allowed Lucinda to better demonstrate that for LifeLong.
Lucinda is an active participant in the CLI alumni network. It’s part of her mission to strengthen community health centers’ services to the underserved and communities of color. “The network is a great way for those of us in community health to share best practices and brainstorm with each other,” she comments.
She recommends CLI to other community health leaders.
“The program reflects who we are and the world in which we operate. We need leaders who have the passion to fight for social justice and at the same time understand that we’re a business that has to compete,” she says.
Applications for CLI close Oct. 31 and there's still time to apply.