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Making a Hometown Discovery After a Career on the National Scene

November 20, 2018

If you’re reading this blog post, you probably know about CHI’s Hot Issues in Health — a bunch of fun nerds sharing their amazing health-related insight and knowledge with Colorado legislators and health care thought leaders.

Though I have worked in health care in Colorado for nearly 20 years, I had never been able to attend because of my busy work-travel schedule. But last year, at the last minute, my schedule changed. Of course Hot Issues was sold out by the time I realized I could go, but I was able to attend as a guest of my longtime friend and CHIer Jeff Bontrager (we met nearly 20 years ago in grad school while studying to be epidemiologists).

That last-minute change led me to a surprising discovery: CHI and I had a lot in common.

Ann Loeffler with her family in South Korea.
Ann Loeffler, middle, with family on a trip to South Korea.

I worked on health care projects related to the safety net at JSI Research and Training Institute (JSI), a mission-driven consulting firm with an office in Colorado. But, since most of my projects were on a national level, I had no idea about the brain trust we had right here in Denver at CHI.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the amazing presenters their expertise coupled with intellectual humility and agility in presenting what were often complex concepts and data analyses. This group seemed to embody all the things I love about working to improve the health of communities.

Several months after Hot Issues, about six hours before my husband and I were taking our two young teens to visit family in South Korea, I got an email from Jeff. It was a job posting from CHI, and the position read like my dream job. However, the application deadline was before I returned from my trip. It was either do it now, or let it pass me by.

I finished packing, turned on my computer, and luckily my cover letter flowed easily. I reviewed my resume and my husband did an expert copyedit for me. I clicked the “Send” button and off it went – and off we went to South Korea.

I was excited to hear from CHI’s CEO Michele Lueck in response to my application. I had met her several years prior at a party to celebrate staff work anniversaries (again, I was Jeff’s guest). At the party, she shared a congratulatory message to her staff hitting the 10+ year mark. When she talked about them and about CHI, I recall that she spoke my very thoughts about what a purposeful life and job should be.                                                                                                    

And now I get to work with her and the rest of the CHIers I “discovered” nearly a year ago! I joined the team this October as a Director.

As CHI broadens the way it supports communities through our work consulting with health organizations and agencies, I will dig deep into Colorado while applying the perspective I gained at a national level. I also remain passionate about my work with health systems and the safety net, and as Colorado’s safety net organizations navigate a new chapter in value-based care and payment, I look forward to a mutual evolution with more discoveries ahead.

This post is an introduction to CHI director Ann Loeffler. 

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