Health Leads Appoints Jennifer Valenzuela as managing Principal of People and Equity

Health Leads Appoints Jennifer Valenzuela as Managing Principal of People and Equity
Community health champion and public health social worker tapped to expand non-profit’s efforts in dismantling barriers to health equity

BOSTON, Mass. – Increasing its commitment to addressing systemic causes of health inequity and disease, Health Leads today announced the promotion of Jennifer Valenzuela to the new position of managing principal of people and equity. In this new role, Valenzuela brings nearly 20  years of inclusive healthcare leadership experience and a lens for addressing structural racism to ensure Health Leads is a leader in health, equity, fairness and inclusion — both internally and with its health system and community partners.

“As the healthcare system now widely accepts that essential needs matter, Health Leads is ready to push the boundaries in our next chapter,” said Valenzuela.  “We cannot address inequitable health outcomes without recognizing the impact of systemic racism. It’s time to dismantle the systems that keep people from identifying, accessing and choosing the resources they need to be healthy.  My goal is to continue building a staff and culture at Health Leads that can push those boundaries and — together with community members, health care systems, government agencies and other non-profits — create a shared approach to health that benefits all. We’re striving toward a future where communities dictate their care and everyone has the opportunity to be healthy.”

Valenzuela joins the Health Leads executive team after seven years with the organization, where she started as the national director of program. She worked with the organization’s technical team to standardize programs nationwide and on the successful development and implementation of landmark social needs-centric software, Health Leads Reach™. More recently, as principal of program, Valenzuela oversaw all program implementation and integration at health systems and clinics across the country. She also led the team responsible for program staff coaching and training, codifying Health Leads’ program model using data analytics and clinical expertise to develop the essential needs consulting team.

Valenzuela has advised and collaborated with a wide range of clinical teams to navigate implementation of social needs programs within complex organizational structures, which makes her uniquely qualified to understand the way essential needs intersect with equity and inclusion.

Prior to her roles at Health Leads, Valenzuela was a public health clinical social worker at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she served as the director of the Young Parents Program (YPP), a multidisciplinary medical home for  adolescent parents and their babies. Jennifer has also served as board president and on the board of directors for the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. In 2012, she was selected by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation as a member of the Massachusetts Institute for Community Health Leadership, where she worked with other leaders to uncover new opportunities in community-based healthcare. She currently serves a member of the MassHealth Delivery System & Payment Reform Implementation Council (DSRIP), a government body that provides advice and input in the implementation of Massachusetts’ Medicaid delivery system reform efforts.

“Jenn Valenzuela is respected and trusted by her colleagues at Health Leads and the broader community because she leads with compassion and integrity,” said Marisa Howard-Karp, Health Leads’ Director of Program Operations and Training. “Jenn has a real understanding of how racism and inequity impact individuals, communities and health care delivery organizations  — and her work at Health Leads has helped drive changes that address these inequities. Jenn’s commitment to inclusion is rooted in her work as a public health social worker, which is a perspective we need now more than ever.”

Valenzuela begins her new role on August 1, 2018, based in Health Leads’ national office in Boston.

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About Health Leads

Health Leads is non-profit organization that envisions a healthcare system that addresses all patients’ essential needs as a standard part of quality care. For over 20 years, Health Leads has worked with leading healthcare organizations and their communities to create and drive adoption of sustainable and high-impact interventions that connect patients to the community-based resources they need to be healthy—from food to transportation to healthcare benefits. Learn more at www.healthleadsusa.org, reach us at info@healthleadsusa.org and follow us on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Media contact: Katie Dillon, kdillon@healthleadsusa.org, 802-526-4783

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