By Elena Marks, EHF’s founding president and CEO

After nearly a decade working with our dedicated staff and partners, I’m saying goodbye to the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Serving as EHF’s founding President and CEO has been an honor and a privilege, as well as the highlight of my career. Since we launched as a $1.2 billion health nonprofit in 2013, EHF has grown from a start-up foundation into an established, nationally recognized philanthropy that’s known for doing things differently. It’s been remarkable to work alongside the exceptional leaders, volunteer board members, and day-to-day team that made it happen.

Throughout these past nine years, I’ve strived to lead an organization that works to change the conversation around health in Texas and beyond. I’ve continuously “beat the drum” that if we can break free from the old health care paradigm—if we can focus on health, not just health care—we can save money and improve health outcomes for all, especially for low-income Texans living in communities that have been over-burdened and under-resourced for way too long.

That shift means going beyond the emergency room and doctor’s office to address the non-medical, social, economic, and environmental drivers of health. When we started at EHF, those terms were much less common than they are today. Whether you call them social determinants of health, drivers of health, or anything in between, I’m proud that we’ve helped to move the conversation forward.

We’ve made EHF into a hub for research and solutions that examine health, not just health care from all angles. From statewide polling to reports outlining the benefits of Medicaid expansion to groundbreaking studies on the future of rural health care, our research projects have worked to better understand the root causes of poor health and then look for ways to find innovative solutions to addressing them.

We’ve also pushed for needed policy and practice changes in the health system in Texas. We’ve used EHF’s reach to provide clear evidence of the health and financial gains of expanding health insurance coverage that makes medical care affordable and accessible for Texans most in need. At the same time, we’ve emphasized the benefit and imperative for providers and insurers to cover costs for preventive measures and non-medical solutions that go beyond medical care to truly improve long-term health.

Overall, EHF has provided more than $450 million in grants, research projects, community and congregational engagement efforts, impact investing, and more. And we’ve done all of it with a commitment to health equity, ensuring every aspect of our work pays attention to the historic and societal dynamics that continue to create inequities that negatively affect health outcomes and limit access to care for too many across Texas.

While I’m proud of the work we’ve done, I know that work to ensure all Texans can lead healthy, fulfilling lives is incomplete. Texas remains the state with the highest uninsured population in the country. Access to preventive care remains elusive and all health costs remain exceedingly high. Too many in rural areas lack access to basic health resources. Mental health resources remain too scarce in urban and rural areas alike.

At the same time, I know that the dedicated team I leave behind is up to meet the challenges of the next chapter. And they will do it with a remarkable new leader at the helm —Dr. Ann Barnes. I am excited to see where Ann takes the remarkable organization I’ve been so proud to lead.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me and EHF along the way.