By Paul Nicholson, president of La Clinica’s Board of Directors and retired executive director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival
I’ve followed the La Clinica story for at least 20 years, admiring how it has steadily grown from a storefront health center for migrant farmworkers to its current position as a leading healthcare provider in the Rogue Valley, reaching nearly 30,000 patients each year. I’ve been associated with La Clinica through my work as executive director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and as board president of the Ashland Community Hospital. My wife Cathy and I have long supported the Raise Your Heart for Health campaigns. We were donors to the West Medford Health Center capital campaign and have been contributors to La Clinica ever since. I was asked to join the board of directors eight years ago and have loved being able to be more active with the organization.
What first attracted you to La Clinica? I recognized long ago that La Clinica had a very clear commitment to the health of our community. In the early days, most of that commitment played out in its work with the Latinx community, but more recently, particularly since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, its reach has expanded to be the largest healthcare provider to lower income residents in the valley. It offers a broad range of services, unmatched by any other healthcare provider in the valley. It serves patients with compassion, kindness, and great skill. La Clinica changes people’s lives. And people have learned that they can rely on La Clinica. Before I joined the board, I watched the CEO, Brenda Johnson, in her work as a leader, and said to myself, “Sometime I want to work more closely with Brenda.”
What keeps you involved? La Clinica is constantly striving for excellence and is not afraid to innovate. It’s exciting to be part of it! I truly believe that all of us are here on this earth to make a difference. To make the world a better place. The way we can do that is through using our talents and knowledge and resources to improve the lives of others. I’ve been blessed to have been able to learn a great deal over the years about how to grow and support nonprofits, and I have been, and still am, grateful to have had the opportunity to offer what I can to La Clinica, and, indirectly, to the patients it serves. In my time on the board I think I’ve been able to have a modest impact, which is certainly gratifying. And I love being one of Brenda’s thought-partners!
What are your hopes for La Clinica? My immediate hope is that we emerge unscathed from this dreadful COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, the leadership team, with Brenda’s guidance, has had an emergency preparedness plan in place for many years, and the organization was able to swiftly and smartly react to the challenges we faced. We have strong ties with our patients and community supporters, as well as some financial reserves, and that gives La Clinica a measure of stability that we can use to build into the future. But most importantly, La Clinica has an amazingly resilient body of staff and providers who are the foundation of the organization, and who will continue to work for the well-being of every member of our community. I am confident that we will emerge from this crisis a stronger, more cohesive and responsive organization.