Listening to the Pulse of Community

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By Evan J. Cutts

“I do not demand respect so much as I demonstrate what it is to be respectful.

Boston, MA — Being respectful is one of Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan’s core values, along with transparency, accountability, and communication. Dr. Minter-Jordan is one who leads with authenticity and by example.

A little over a decade ago, Dr. Minter-Jordan became Chief Medical Officer at The Dimock Center, Boston’s second-largest health center. In 2013, she became President and CEO. Since that time, The Dimock Center has ranked #12 in the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts, as published by The Commonwealth Institute (2015), and serves more than 17,000 people annually.

As a graduate of Brown University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business, with an MBA in Health Services, Dr. Minter-Jordan finds motivation and inspiration from her daughters, her husband, her parents who provided resources for her to become the influencer she is today; and her high school guidance counselor, Juliette Hansen, a role model of grace and elegance.

Dr. Minter-Jordan is a woman who connects with the pulses of her professional and personal communities and believes that community is the key to thriving. It is our pleasure to have a conversation with such an inspiring force for collaboration and excellence.

EJC: Can you tell me more about your role as President and CEO of The Dimock Center?

MMJ: I am responsible for our health and human services organization. We’re classified as a community health center, but really, we’re much broader, in terms of our portfolio of programs and services. We offer child and family services, behavioral health, and primary care. So I’m responsible for ensuring that we deliver high-quality programs and services that respond to the community need. I oversee employee recruitment for our senior team, making sure that I have the right people for our programs.  

EJC: What are some of your daily goals and responsibilities?

MMJ: Our primary goal is to hold our mission as our guiding star for all of our decisions. The second is to provide our best, by working hard and allowing ourselves the space to energize.

We maintain a strategic vision for the organization. As we align ourselves with our goals, I’m constantly thinking about the best ways to integrate our large portfolio, the journeys of our patients and families, and how to optimize their experience.

EJC: What have you learned about community engagement within your current role and in your previous roles?

MMJ: Community engagement is critical to the way we operate. I’ve learned the importance of clear and effective communication between Dimock and the community we serve. Before we make decisions that impact the community, we hold listening sessions and stakeholder sessions, to listen to our community and acknowledge that it is comprised of many different voices, perspectives, and opinions.

I think that sometimes we make the mistake of assigning one person the responsibility of representing a community. We have to understand there will be variable responses, and that gathering them is crucial if we are to make informed decisions about our services. I’ve learned the value of taking different perspectives, understanding the underlying themes, and making the best-informed decision that I can make.

EJC: Can you tell us a little more about your strategy for business development and community engagement at Dimock?

MMJ: They are one and the same, in many ways. Our “north star” is our rootedness in the community we serve. In being a federally qualified community health center, our Board is comprised of 51% consumers, individuals who use our services and programs. Having community members at the board table is a major advantage of our engagement strategy.

As I consider the strategies derived from that membership, I see that they are based on strengthening and integrating our programs and services and being nimble and ready to respond to the changes occurring in the healthcare landscape. It’s equally important for us to elevate our employees and provide them with opportunities to train to become better at their roles. Our key to success is tied to uplifting our community and our employees.

EJC: How are you ensuring that patients are engaged in the creation and approval of research initiatives?

MMJ: The process began in 2007, while I was Chief Medical Officer at Dimock.  As I screened the many proposals we received, I found myself faced with a couple of important questions. How do we ensure that these projects are sustainable? If a certain treatment is effective, it cannot become one that just comes and goes, leaving the patients no better off than when they started. How can we protect the rights of our patients during research? Who is advocating for their rights as these studies are developed?

It became very clear that we needed to establish an Institutional Review Board for research proposals. The review board would evaluate and approve any research that would be done at Dimock. I connected with researchers on the Institutional Review Board at the Harvard School of Public Health, and through the Harvard Catalyst program, we were able to secure resources and funds to train our Health Services Board to double as an Institutional Review Board. This allowed us to have actual community members at the table deciding upon the research that best serves Dimock and our patients.

EJC: In what ways are millennials shaping, or otherwise impacting your business?

MMJ: What I appreciate about the millennials who work at Dimock, or who are interested in the Health and Life Sciences field, is their level of creativity and energy. It’s really important to have people on your team and organization who are less willing to settle for the status quo, who challenge the notion that because something has been done a certain way, it must continue to be done that way.

EJC: In your opinion, what skills are necessary to be an effective leader?

MMJ: An effective leader is discerning, mission-driven, and a listener, as well as one who believes in their mission, embodies it and is authentic.

Often, I find that the team becomes more important than the leader, so the leader’s ability to gather the right team is also necessary. My goal isn’t necessarily to be out in the front but to stand behind my team and ensure their success.

EJC: In your opinion, what does it mean to be a woman of Color in 2018?

MMJ: I see it as a source of strength and a differentiator. In this field—particularly in Boston—there are fewer of us. What I love about being in a room of people who don’t look like me is that my younger self would say: I stand out, therefore I don’t belong; but my current self says: I stand out, therefore people will remember who I am. This experience gives me a way to represent women of Color in a way that people acknowledge my voice, my expertise, my contributions, and the fact that they come from a woman of Color.  There is a sense of power and ownership in who I am and what I bring to the table, and pride in that power that cannot be ignored.

Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan will be the closing Keynote Speaker at the inaugural Health & Life Sciences Conference taking place Thursday, March 22, from 12-6 PM. Sponsored by Color Magazine, The IXL Center, and Biogen.