Published May 18, 2022
Welcome to St. David’s Foundation! As a member of the Foundation’s leadership team, can you share a bit about what interested you most in our mission to advance health equity in Central Texas and the special skillsets you each bring to your respective roles to support this vision?
Regan: I am a changemaker, and St. David’s Foundation is on the frontlines of change. Over the next decade, the Foundation is poised to deploy substantial investments into our Central Texas community to advance health equity. Using these significant financial resources, together with our social, moral, intellectual, and reputational capital, the Foundation is well-positioned to create lasting change that supports all individuals and families in Central Texas to reach their full potential.
“I’m excited to join an organization and a region that is poised for catalytic change.”
I’m excited to join an organization and a region that is poised for catalytic change. During my career, I moved from the classroom, to the statehouse, to philanthropy as I have sought to create change. Beginning with my time as a Texas public school teacher, I saw firsthand the systemic barriers that many children and families in our community face. In the years since, I have honed the tools of philanthropy, law, and policy to relentlessly pursue more equitable systems. I’m excited to continue my commitment to equity and work on behalf of a community I care deeply about.
Julian: It’s wonderful to be part of St. David’s Foundation – an organization I’ve known and have had the pleasure to collaborate with for many years. I’m honored to take on a newly created role during such a pivotal time for the Foundation.
Looking ahead, I am most excited that we, as an organization, have placed health equity at the center of our work. Having lived in Central Texas for nearly 30 years, I’ve seen and experienced the impact of inequities that stem from the rapid growth and change in our region. Many parts of Austin look nothing like they did when I first arrived, and it is primarily Black and Brown people who have had to absorb the most negative effects of our growth. At the same time, these communities have gained the least from our region’s explosive prosperity.
“Many parts of Austin look nothing like they did when I first arrived, and it is primarily Black and Brown people who have had to absorb the most negative effects of our growth. At the same time, these communities have gained the least from our region’s explosive prosperity.”
By focusing on health equity, we can focus the Foundation’s considerable resources, including our role as strategic changemaker, convener, and grantmaker, on those who have the greatest needs. Having worked in community-based organizations for more than 25 years, alongside our disadvantaged neighbors, I am committed to ensuring that we raise up a variety of voices and perspectives in doing our work.
As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and uncover the challenges and opportunities it has presented to our region; how do you see your role engaging with the community and our partners across the five counties to improve health and well-being?
Regan: Over the last two years, we have deepened our understanding of some things we already knew, and we have learned new lessons that are shaping our way forward. We saw that we could be more flexible and responsive. We also learned that we need to be more collaborative if we are going to address the pressing challenges of our region. As we consider how we can support our mission through collaboration, we will continue to partner with:
We also seek to collaborate with new organizations and agencies that align with our strategies. We know we can’t do this work alone, and we are eager to partner with all those who share a commitment to a stronger, more equitable Central Texas.
Julian: In my role as Vice President of Community Programs, I oversee our two largest direct service efforts: the St. David’s Dental Program and the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program. Some of our most important collaborators in our dental services are area school districts and principals, through which we reach thousands of students each year. Now that we are able to ramp up our services back to full capacity, we are eager to work with our partners to most efficiently reach those children who need dental care most.
Similarly, we are committed to working with school district leadership, guidance and college counselors, and student organizations, such as HOSA, to connect with students who are interested in careers related to healthcare, particularly those who come from historically marginalized communities. I am eager to build deeper relationships with academic leadership in our rural communities—Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, and Williamson counties—to amplify our impact of scholarship support in these regions. Many students who receive our scholarships are first-generation college students. It’s important that we help them to see themselves in these careers, see the possibilities, and then help pave a way to make them a reality.
“It’s important that we help them to see themselves in these careers, see the possibilities, and then help pave a way to make them a reality.”
Over time, I am hopeful that St. David’s Neal Kocurek scholars can help meet the need for culturally competent health professionals throughout our Central Texas region.
How do each of you see your role and objectives intersecting with those of your colleagues?
Regan: Having grantmaking and direct services within the same organization makes us stronger. Our community programs, including the St. David’s Dental Program and the Neal Kocurek Scholarship Program, give us daily contact with the community. They allow us to have an immediate and lasting impact on children and families. As we pursue health equity, community investments allow us to support organizations and ideas that will spark change in our community. With our grantmaking, we have the opportunity tackle today’s challenges, but also to address the root causes and build the long-term infrastructure needed for change.
Julian: I have great respect for the strategic grantmaking approach my colleagues use to direct Foundation resources towards addressing community challenges. They ask the right questions and are driven by data in seeking long-term change. We can utilize this approach and our colleagues’ perspectives to ensure that our own programs are being as impactful as they can be.
Also, though grantmaking isn’t a major part of my role at the Foundation, I bring the perspective and experience of having worked for an organization that has been a long-time St. David’s Foundation grantee. I hope to lend this perspective as we seek to continuously improve how we work with grantees to address community challenges.
Julian, as the former Deputy Executive Director of Foundation Communities, you are familiar to many in our community. Tell us about what you’re most excited about in this newly created role of Vice President of Community Programs and the opportunity this offers St. David’s Foundation and the Central Texas region more broadly?
Julian: My position, which is new to the Foundation, allows me to focus on strengthening the impact of our direct service programs as we work to address community-level challenges. I am a big believer that if we want to find meaningful solutions, we must include the perspectives of those closest to a particular challenge—especially people with lived experience. Having worked in this community for nearly three decades, I look forward to incorporating perspective and insights from my extensive network of fellow-residents and colleagues in nonprofits, government, and other sectors, to guide and further refine our approach so our programs are as impactful as they can be, while ensuring that health equity remains at the center of all we do.
Regan, as the former Chief Strategy Officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Arkansas, you bring a broader lens of philanthropy beyond Texas to this role. What kind of impact are you hopeful to see at it relates the Foundations’ strategic grantmaking efforts, priorities and community collaborations – in both the short and long-term?
Regan: I believe in the power of philanthropy to be courageous capital. We have the opportunity – together with other funders, nonprofits, government, and business – to boldly envision and act to create a region where every person can thrive.
“I believe in the power of philanthropy to be courageous capital.”
This starts with changing the conversation. Every Central Texan should have access to quality healthcare and the resources needed to reach their full potential. We need to change who is in the conversation, building the power and the voice of local leaders to be part of creating change – particularly in our rural communities. Partnering with and alongside our community, we have the opportunity change behavior and change outcomes – influencing systems and policies to remove barriers and develop pathways to opportunity for individuals and families in our region. We can’t do it alone, but through philanthropy, we can create impact, influence, and leverage that makes our community stronger and more equitable.
Questions for Regan or Julian? Please reach out! You can contact us by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org