Personality: Myra Goodman Smith | Richmond Free Press

With the rise of the omicron variant of COVID-19, attention is once again shifting to the systemic issues surrounding healthcare and healthcare delivery systems. These types of issues have always been at the center of Myra Goodman Smith’s preoccupations.

The Richmond native is chair of the board of directors of the Annabella R. Jenkins Foundation, where she helps lobby for a more comprehensive response not only to COVID-19, but on ways to improve health and well- being from the Richmond area during what she calls “the most difficult health care crisis, mental and physical, of our lives.”

“In light of the convergence of the pandemic and widening health disparities, the foundation needs to ensure it is on the best course to deal with and prepare for known and unknown physical and mental impacts. of the crisis, especially in black and brown communities. “, says Mrs. Smith.

In 2021, the foundation awarded $ 2.2 million in grants to 47 organizations in the region, including Cross Over Clinic, Daily Planet Health Services, Rx Partnership, Free Clinic of Powhatan, South Richmond Adult Day Care Center, La Casa de la Salud, ChildSavers and CARITAS.

Ms. Smith cites her parents and their health issues as major influences in her life. Their struggles with kidney failure, lupus and cancer “mirror a picture of the social determinants” of health that led to their demise at age 65. These social determinants of health, which include gender, age, education, income and ethnicity, are sometimes overlooked.

The experience with her parents led Ms. Smith to volunteer with health organizations.

She has held leadership positions on the boards of directors of Leukemia Virginia and West Virginia. She joined the Jenkins Foundation in 2015 as a member of the board and was elected chair of the board in December 2020 after serving as vice chair of the board for two years.

“I joined the board because of my interest in health,” says Ms. Smith. “I’ve always been drawn to health organizations because that’s not what I work at every day. So it’s a more personal draw for me.

The foundation also targets funding for programs that connect trauma specialists with survivors of violence.

“I think all of us in the philanthropic community wish we could do more,” says Ms. Smith. “But I think, if we’ve been smart about it and had conversations about it, we’re not tripping over each other.”

“I am happy that we are able to donate substantial amounts,” she continues. “I know there are so many people in the community doing such a good job, but more needs to be done.”

Meet an advocate and funder for community health and wellness initiatives and this week’s personality Myra Goodman Smith:

1st volunteer position: Chair of the Board of Directors of the Annabella R. Jenkins Foundation.

Occupation: President and CEO, Leadership Metro Richmond.

Date and place of birth: February 16 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Amélie County.

Education: Huguenot high school in Richmond; bachelor’s degree in urban planning and master’s degree in public administration, Virginia Commonwealth University.

Family: Husband, Lawrence Smith; daughter, Lauren; and granddaughter, Skylar.

The Jenkins Foundation is: A $ 60 million health legacy foundation led by a group of dedicated women who are committed to improving the health and well-being of our region.

When and why founded: When Retreat Hospital was sold, the Jenkins Foundation was established in 1995 from the proceeds to continue the mission of the hospital’s all-female auxiliary board.

Mission of the Jenkins Foundation: Improving the health of Greater Richmond through strategic and impactful philanthropy. The Jenkins Foundation is important in our community as a primary health care funder that provides much needed resources to improve access to primary health care, access to mental health care, and the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

History of the name of the foundation: Born in Richmond in 1837, Annabella Jenkins opened her home to treat enlisted soldiers wounded during the Civil War. After the war, she organized a hospital which provided medical care to the sick, regardless of class, income, race or religion. His efforts culminated in the establishment of the Retreat Hospital for the Sick in Richmond.

Once elected Chairman of the Board of Directors: December 2020 for a two-year term.

Objective or project # 1 as president: Lead the foundation in refining its strategic plans so that it is more informed, strategic and flexible in order to best support our beneficiaries and partners today and in the future. In light of the convergence of the pandemic and widening health disparities, the foundation must ensure it is on the best course to deal with and prepare for the known and unknown physical and mental impacts of the crisis, especially in black and brown communities.

Who benefits from the Jenkins Foundation: Children, families and seniors in our region.

How the foundation is helping during COVID-19: In the early days of the pandemic, the foundation quickly provided $ 100,000 to the Central Virginia COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund and established a $ 500,000 deposit account with Virginia Community Capital for the Paycheck Prevention Program. to help nonprofits fill the revenue gaps due to the pandemic.

How the foundation treats trauma: Access to mental health care is a priority for founding and sustaining the regional network that creates a resilient and trauma-informed community. In addition, targeted funding is provided to programs that connect trauma specialists with survivors of domestic violence and services that provide trauma-informed care for children.

Health disparities in our community: The Jenkins Foundation understands that health disparities are preventable circumstances that are linked to the health status of individuals based on social factors such as income, ethnicity, education, age and position. sex. We improved our understanding by examining insights into data and trends, through research and conversations with subject matter experts, our partners and beneficiaries.

The Jenkins Foundation is associated with: The Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, the Community Foundation, the Virginia Funders Network and many grantees in our area.

Racial Equity and the Jenkins Foundation: The Jenkins Foundation board and staff challenged each other to learn, expand and grow in understanding racial equity, engaging in conversations and telling stories. The diversity of the board brings rich perspectives and ideas, which helps create the racial equity lens that the foundation must use in everything we do.

Organizations that the foundation has helped: In 2021, the foundation awarded $ 2.2 million to 47 organizations, including the Cross Over Clinic, South Richmond Adult Day Care Center, La Casa de la Salud, Goochland Cares and ChildSavers.

A perfect day for me: One day I can say that I did my best!

What I am learning about myself during the pandemic: The isolation gave me a quiet time to reflect on my life, my job, my abilities and what is really important. I have ideas that I have put aside over the years and now I have the time and confidence to seize the opportunity to implement them.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Play billiards.

Quote that inspires me: In 2006, I met Bishop Desmond Tutu. He took my hand and said, “Bless you my child”. I will never forget this. The following quote from him inspires me on how to approach the social determinants of health: “There comes a time when we have to stop just pulling people out of the river. We have to go back upstream and find out why they fall into it. Desmond Tutu

My friends describe me as: An empathetic advisor.

At the top of my “to-do” list: To drop off a box of glassware at Goodwill.

Best late night snack: Something sweet!

The best thing my parents ever taught me: Be kind and work to help others.

Person who influenced me the most: My parents too. Their health problems reflect a picture of the social determinants that led to their death at the age of 65. Mom’s kidney disease and dad’s 25-year battle with lupus and cancer prompted me to volunteer with health organizations. I have served on the board of directors of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and have served as chairman of the board of the National Kidney Foundation for Virginia and West Virginia.

Book that marked me the most: “The Leadership Challenge” by Barry Posner and James Kouzes.

What I’m reading now: “Design Thinking for the Greater Good: Innovation in the Social Sector” by Daisy Azer, Jeanne Liedtka and Randy Salzman.

Next goal: Continue to move forward to meet the health and wellness needs of residents and, in particular, vulnerable members of our communities.

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