I have been honored to serve as the OPCA president. I moved into the role a bit ahead of schedule in August of 2017 with the resignation of my much more able predecessor, John Duke.  (John stepped off the board when he changed jobs to lead another organization. We look forward to having him back soon!) My proximity may be a catalyst for resignations! While I was still serving out John’s term as Board president, Craig Hostetler announced in January of 2018 that we would be leaving his role as Executive Director of OPCA in March! Craig noted that his sabbatical provided an opportunity to assess his future after 17 years with OPCA, and that he had decided to pursue an independent path. (Perhaps, the Board will re-consider its sabbatical policy and now only grant sabbaticals after 20 years of service.)   

Craig’s departure initiated the most challenging activity of my tenure which was to hire a new ED with the skills to lead this dynamic and important organization.  I worked in close concert with my colleagues on the Executive Committee, Sheryln Dahl, Gil Muñoz, and Linda Maxon to form a search committee. We were joined in the search committee by Board members, Andrew Suchoki and Blain West, as well as by OPCA staff members Laura Sisulak and Stephanie Castaño.  The search committee performed admirably, generating 22 applicants from 13 states. We interviewed eight candidates by phone, and brought in four candidates for in-person interviews. The search committee made its recommendation to the Board, which unanimously approved moving forward with hiring Joan Watson-Patko as OPCA’s new Executive Director in June 2018.

OPCA staff and Board have tackled a number of key initiatives and accomplished many things in addition to selecting a new ED in the past 2½ years.  I will only take credit for introducing a moment of reflective poetry to the start of Board meetings. Other than that, the real credit goes to the yeoman’s work of the OPCA staff, and to the thoughtful contributions and leadership of the entire Board.

Board accomplishments have included:

I look forward to continuing to serve on the Board, and I know that we will all be well-served with Gil in the president’s chair. 

-Ron Hjelm, Executive Director, Community Health Centers of Lane County


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