Preparing the Next Generation of Health Center Leaders: The Experience of the Clinic Leadership Institute's Emerging Leaders Program
Since its launch in 2008, the Clinic Leadership Institute Emerging Leaders Program (the Program) has been at the forefront of efforts to cultivate the leadership pipeline in California’s community health centers field. Created through a partnership between Blue Shield of California Foundation and the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco, the intensive 18-month program prepares emerging leaders to assume executive health center positions within five to eight years. To date, the Program has trained eight cohorts of participants who are now well equipped to lead their organizations into the future and to ensure that the health centers field remains strong and vibrant. The Program is designed for community health center staff who demonstrate a long-term commitment to serving and potential for leading organizations in the healthcare safety net. Each year, the Program selects approximately 25 participants to develop their competencies in areas that are vital to health center leadership, including strategic thinking, relationship management, business acumen and data-driven decision making. These participants are drawn from health centers and health center associations across the state and represent diverse education, racial and ethnic backgrounds as well as a range of perspectives and professional experiences. The Program offers a combination of didactic instruction and experiential learning opportunities customized for the health center context. Six in-person, multi-day seminars are at the heart of the Program, though participants benefit from additional supports and opportunities—including personal learning plans, peer networking, leadership coaching, a health center leadership project and an alumni component—to help deepen and integrate learnings. The Program expects the greatest impacts among participants, with more modest—but invaluable—impacts accruing in participants’ sponsoring organizations and the broader health centers field over time. This report summarizes the results and lessons learned from a longitudinal, mixed-methods evaluation conducted by Informing Change, focusing on the experiences and trajectories of the Program’s first five cohorts for up to five years after graduation. This evaluation is intended to inform others who work in and support community health centers, the healthcare safety net and the broader nonprofit leadership development field.