Following a nationwide search, the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF) Board of Trustees announces its unanimous selection of Barbara A. Leonard, MPH of Winslow, Maine, as the foundation’s new President and CEO. MeHAF is Maine’s largest, private, nonprofit health care foundation dedicated to promoting access to quality health care, especially for those who are uninsured and underserved, and improving the health of everyone in Maine.
Citing Ms. Leonard’s statewide and national reputation and her extensive experience across nonprofit, governmental, and philanthropic sectors, MeHAF Board Chair Connie Sandstrom noted that Ms. Leonard’s leadership, vision and passion are precisely what the Board was seeking to lead the foundation forward.
“Barbara’s passion for MeHAF’s mission, expertise in public health and health care, and her abiding commitment to making the health care system work better for individuals who are uninsured and underserved makes her the ideal person to guide the foundation in the years to come,” noted Ms. Sandstrom. “Barbara brings deep understanding about the factors that are most important to improving health for Maine people and recognizes that health care is just a piece of the puzzle,” noted Ms. Sandstrom.
Ms. Leonard’s expertise ranges from program development and evaluation to health policy, health systems, rural and women’s health, and access for underserved populations. As a health policy consultant, she advised national and Maine-based organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. In her time at the Maine Bureau of Health (now Maine Center for Disease Control), she established the Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program and served as the State’s Chronic Disease Director. Her work at the Maine Ambulatory Care Coalition (now Maine Primary Care Association) supported development of Maine’s first Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Coalition.
Ms. Leonard has served as the foundation’s Vice President for Programs since 2008. At MeHAF, she took a lead role in initiating a decade-long effort to integrate primary care and mental health; oversaw a multi-year effort to ensure that the needs of underserved and uninsured individuals were included in health care payment reform efforts; and ensured that MeHAF advanced and strengthened access to oral health services in Maine.
Ms. Leonard also brings extensive experience serving on state and national advisory committees and boards. She served on the national RWJF Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Evaluation Advisory Group and the DentaQuest Foundation’s Oral Health 2014 National Advisory Committee. In Maine, Ms. Leonard served as the chair of the Maine Philanthropy Center’s Board and previously chaired the Board of the Maine Women’s Fund.
“I’m eager to lead the foundation as we build on our momentum. MeHAF is an important force making health care more accessible to Maine’s people. However, we know that people’s health is driven primarily by factors outside the health care system. For this reason, I look forward to strengthening our work to support innovative and community-based efforts to improve health, particularly in rural areas, while continuing our efforts to help Maine’s elders and those with chronic disease ‘thrive in place.’ In addition, the foundation intends to deepen efforts to ensure equity in health and health care by working with key partners throughout the state,” said Ms. Leonard.
Ms. Leonard will begin her new role on October 1, 2016, following the departure of founding President and CEO, Dr. Wendy J. Wolf, who announced her planned departure in October 2015.
“We are deeply indebted to Dr. Wolf for her strong leadership for the last fifteen years. Her drive and creativity brought MeHAF from simply being a good idea to its current status as a respected organizational leader and catalyst in Maine,” Ms. Sandstrom reflected. “Passing the leadership to Ms. Leonard builds on Dr. Wolf’s legacy and sets the stage for a strong future for the state’s largest health care foundation.”
Dani Kalian, Executive Assistant
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