By Erin Meade
Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to improving the health of the communities we serve goes far beyond community programs, grants, and donations, and into some unexpected departments with some unlikely champions. This allows us to leverage all of our resources and assets to improve the total health for those who live, work, and play within our footprint, as well as lead other large organizations to consider the full picture of their investment, procurement, and hiring decisions.
We know that small businesses have an outsized impact on their communities, especially since they are more likely to hire from and invest in the areas immediately around the business location. Kaiser Permanente is committed to increasing our support for small businesses for just this reason, and the Mid-Atlantic States is one of the regional leaders in this effort thanks in part to an existing collaboration between our Community Benefit and Procurement teams. Through this collaborative effort, we can help create jobs and build wealth in the communities we serve.
Baltimore City was selected by Kaiser Permanente to be a part of a national initiative, the Inner City Capital Connection (ICCC) program along with Los Angeles and Oakland. ICCC helps small business owners gain the tools and skills they need in order to build capacity and obtain the financial investment they need in order to grow by providing them with an intensive MBA educational experience. Kaiser Permanente is engaging key stakeholders and leaders from the education, business, and community sectors in order to better understand the particular challenges and needs of the Baltimore community prior to launching the ICCC program.
As part of that effort, national and regional leadership from our Procurement and Community Benefit teams recently met with Baltimore’s community and business leaders to discuss opportunities and ways to bring more equity to Kaiser Permanente’s purchasing and hiring practices. Mayor Catherine Pugh opened the meeting, reminding us that small business and innovation are vital to economic growth for all of Baltimore.
The meeting was well-attended by community members, including representatives from Bon Secours Health System, Associated Black Charities, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, John Hopkins Medical Systems. Kaiser Permanente leaders in attendance included Karen Blair, Vice President of Public Relations, Communications, and Brand Management; Bechara Choucair, Senior Vice President of Community Health; Maritha Gay, Executive Director of External Affairs & Community Benefit; Laurel Junk, Vice President of Supply Chain & Chief Procurement Officer; Beverly Norman-Cooper, Executive Director, National Supplier Diversity; and John Vu, Vice President of Community Health Strategy.
Kaiser Permanente will continue to collaborate with community partners, small business, and our industry peers to advance equity in procurement and ensure that we are leveraging our resources and assets to advance economic opportunity not only in Baltimore, but also across the Mid-Atlantic region, and throughout our national footprint.