As Executive Director of Rx Partnership, Amy shares her perspective on leadership.
Since April of 2007, Amy has held her leadership role with Rx Partnership, a public/private partnership that helps increase access to medication for Virginia’s vulnerable populations and serves as a resource to the organizations that support these populations. More than 701,000 prescriptions for 75,000 unduplicated patients have been filled by 20 free clinics.
Amy’s experience in nonprofit management ranges from a previous tenure as executive director of a community economic development nonprofit in Wisconsin to ten years providing direct technical assistance to a variety of nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Tell us about your leadership style and how this contributes to your organization’s success.
I am a proponent of situational leadership and believe strongly in the importance of being flexible enough to tailor my approach and communication style to what is the best fit for a particular person or challenge.
Thinking back to my first job after college as the Executive Director of a small nonprofit community development organization, I know I wasn’t always as mindful about leadership as I am now. There’s nothing like the myriad of experiences and people we encounter in our personal and professional lives to really provide the ongoing education needed. I know my leadership style has positively evolved over my more than 20 years in the nonprofit world thanks to the experiences I’ve had working with a diverse group of people from the nonprofit, government and private sectors – all of which are represented on my Board of Directors.
Since I joined Rx Partnership in 2007, I have seen the organization grow from a relatively new nonprofit doing important work, into a mature organization with a solid track record of success and innovation. During that time there’s been constant and significant change – not just in the health care landscape, but also in the staff and Board make-up as we shift to meet the changing needs of the people we serve. Using the right combination of directing, coaching, supporting and delegating when new opportunities develop means that Rx Partnership has been able to expand and enhance services and utilize the unique talents of staff, Board and volunteers.
What advice would you offer for other nonprofit leaders?
Be willing to take calculated risks. While it’s essential that we serve as good stewards of our organizations and keep the focus on our mission, if we’re too conservative and don’t take some risks, we’re actually doing our organization a huge disservice.
One of the achievements I’m most proud of from my tenure with Rx Partnership is the April 2017 launch of our Access to Medication Program, a new and original approach to providing generic medication to patients in Virginia. Creating a completely new approach has the potential for failure, but also the exciting prospect of helping thousands of people.
Using the strategic plan as the impetus, we collaborated with several volunteer partners to create a detailed business plan with as much data as possible. Doing our research, working as a team, gathering support and eventually developing a detailed plan took nearly six months, but meant that Board became invested in the program and support was unanimous. We had done our homework, but there was still a need for a confident leap in order to accept the risks and decide to actually launch the program.
Now, more than a year later, we have grown the program significantly because we have used an iterative learning process to take what we thought we knew and see if the data supports our assumptions, then make the corrections needed. Whatever the long-term assessment of the “success” of the new program, I know the risk was worth it because we’ve already provided essential medication to 2,500 people and are positioned to help thousands more.
What does this award mean for you and your organization?
As Rx Partnership tackles the ongoing challenge of medication access, we need to be willing and able to stretch in new directions outside our comfort zone. That means that staff needs to be empowered to work in new ways that capitalize on strengths while addressing areas for growth.
We’ve recently identified the need to clarify and align staff roles in order to make sure we are each focused on the tasks where we excel and where we can have the most positive impact for the organization. That means that as Executive Director, it’s essential for me to be out of the office connecting with partners and supporters more – with the knowledge and confidence that dedicated staff is willing and able to take on key tasks at the office.
An area for exploration and professional development I am particularly interested in is related to entrepreneurship and social enterprise. I’m excited by the examples I see of organizations that bring together good work and good business. I think we could effectively market Rx Partnership services to an outside audience who would value them and at the same time create a revenue stream to further our core work of increasing medication access.