When one of Katherine Caldwell’s closest friends was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in the 1980s, she began volunteering in the health care field.
Her mother had recently died after a lengthy illness, and while her mother was fully insured and had premium health care, her friend was not. That inequity in the health care system between the insured and uninsured turned into a passion for providing quality, compassionate health care to underserved populations in the Houston area.
As executive director of Legacy Community Health Services, she lives out that passion each day. In 2001, she faced potentially losing three-quarters of the agency’s annual budget due to federal budget cuts, but she pursued other funding streams. As a result, the organization became a federally qualified health center in 2004, which opened additional revenue streams through Medicaid and Medicare.
Caldwell has taken risks to ensure quality health care. In 2005, hundreds of Hurricane Katrina evacuees descended upon Houston, and without any funds to support the onrush, she ordered the clinic doors open over Labor Day weekend to provide them with health care services. After publicizing these efforts, Legacy received nearly $1 million in donations to help.
Most recently, she has initiated a strategic planning process for the next five years that involved everyone from the board to receptionists, allowing all employees to get involved in the future of Legacy and gain a stake in its success.
Outside of Legacy, Caldwell is an alumna of Leadership Houston, the American Leadership Forum and the Texas Lyceum. She currently serves on the board of directors of AIDS United, the Harris County Healthcare Alliance and Local Initiatives Support Corp., among other organizations.
How to reach: Legacy Community Health Services, (713) 830-3000 or www.legacycommunityhealth.org