And just like that, after 17 years in operation, we have completed the sunset of the RCHN Community Health Foundation and turned out the lights, for the last time. When I joined the RCHN family of organizations, to help the organization’s health center-owned managed care plan develop and execute a rapid turn-around strategy and maintain our commitment to underserved New Yorkers, I did not foresee that this short-term project would turn into a 25-year career. I also didn’t imagine the groundbreaking work that would follow, culminating with the creation of the unique RCHN Community Health Foundation, and our signature initiatives in population and community health improvement, workforce development, outreach, health information technology and policy research. In addition to our in-house technical assistance and operating programs, our organization ultimately invested more than $60 million directly in support of the national community health center movement, generating documented results and value.

Throughout this time, it has been my incredible privilege to work with and for you. As always, it is all about the people, and I’ve talked before about my gratitude for my wonderful team, our board, institutional and organizational partners, and each and every one of you. None of our programs would have been possible without a driven and capable group of individuals who took an idea and ran with it, together. Starting with our visionary founding CEO Julio Bellber, it also includes our founding and past Board members and our current Directors, Chair Dr. M. Monica Sweeney along with Jack Ohlweiler, Bobby Watts and Doug Wirth. It includes each member of our staff, both those with us to the last day, and those who worked with us at some point during our history. Sadly, it includes several dear people who made enormous contributions to the Foundation and to the health center program, who are no longer living. On our own core team, we lost Eric Holzberg, Tim Ray, Merle Cunningham, and David Hartzband, each way too soon. I will never forget their unwavering support for our mission, uncommon smarts and wholehearted friendship.

Together, we were a small but mighty team of incredibly determined, engaged, and devoted colleagues. Everyone who has worked at or been associated with the Foundation is responsible for what we have been able to achieve and advance – and for strengthening health center capacity and operations. And that was our sole purpose – to support all those working in service to their communities to improve care delivery and enhance health more broadly. Our final legacy gifts reflect this focus, our dedication to having a meaningful and sustained impact beyond the Foundation’s lifespan, and our steadfast commitment to the health center movement.

And what a movement it is! Our health center family has built something truly extraordinary – a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, urban-rural coalition – diverse across ethnicity, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and geography. While there is yet much work to be done, our coalition has tremendous strength and together, we have leveraged that strength to elevate power to where it belongs – in communities – and to advance health access, health care justice and health equity. Nothing can be more beautiful than that.

So while I’m sad to see this enormously productive chapter come to an end, I will close out on this high note. As we reach the finish line of the Foundation’s run, following more than two full years upended by the continuing pandemic and unlike any that came before, I’m humbled by the phenomenal work of the health center community, grateful to our philanthropic, organizational and academic partners, and proud of our shared progress. I wish you all good health and healthy communities, and the strength that comes from building collective power to advance quality healthcare services and health for all.