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The REACH Healthcare Foundation recently announced its annual call for nominations for the foundation’s board of directors for 2021. Jon Marshall, REACH Foundation Board Chair, spoke about the opportunity for community members to serve on the Board and contribute to its mission to advance health equity in health coverage and care. A longtime resident of Allen County, KS, Marshall joined the REACH Board in 2015. In his professional life, Marshall is Vice President for Academic Affairs with Allen Community College.
Jon Marshall first learned about the REACH Foundation from colleagues in Allen County. The rural Kansas county is part of the foundation’s six-county service area. REACH had made some of its earliest investments in the startup of a community health planning and improvement effort that became Thrive Allen County.
“Those early investments created a lot of excitement in Allen County by helping our community focus on unmet health needs,” Marshall said. “I became interested in the foundation’s investments and how they were bringing people together across several of our small communities to begin to tackle our health issues.”
Marshall was appointed in 2010 by the Allen County Commission to the REACH Community Advisory Committee (CAC), an appointed group of 13 individuals whose primary responsibility is to develop a slate of nominees with diverse personal and professional expertise for the REACH Board. Marshall served five years on the CAC before being elected to the board of directors.
“This experience has helped me broaden my understanding of health equity and how health coverage is a necessary starting point for improved health. I have now served two terms on the REACH Board and have been able to see how our strategic focus on uninsurance has helped contribute to decreases in uninsurance rates – work that has had a real impact not only in Allen County but in other parts of the foundation’s service area.”
Marshall said he is proud of the foundation’s commitment to coverage and care for immigrants and refugees. Marshall noted that the foundation’s efforts to draw attention to the health concerns of immigrants and refugees helped spur several new initiatives: the launch of Communities Concerned for Immigrants and Refugees, a learning network to share resources and promote collective action, and an investment in a bilingual health coaching program developed by Children’s Mercy Hospital. He also cited a policy position guided by staff and adopted by the REACH Board to call for grantees to adopt non-discrimination policies that affirm non-discrimination and uphold inclusiveness.
Marshall said the REACH Board plays an important role in setting a course for the foundation and ensuring that its funds are used to advance its equity goals. “For individuals willing to be engaged and learn, it’s a tremendously rich experience. Board members will gain a deeper understanding of health needs across our large geographic area and what it takes to achieve health outcomes in diverse communities.”