Introducing HCCSO Executive Director: Amy Thuren
In 2019, HCCSO welcomed a new Executive Director. Amy is passionate about improving our region and supporting community health. Since her arrival, she’s been working to help HCCSO improve and expand our work across Southern Oregon. Meet our Director, Amy…
As the Executive Director of the Health Care Coalition of Southern Oregon (HCCSO), it is my job to develop the mission and vision in collaboration with the Board of Directors, and ensure that our programs work to meet those ends. Our coalition works to identify and remove barriers to health equity by working with key partners throughout southern Oregon (and beyond!).
HCCSO primarily facilitates Healthy Start of Southern Oregon, which is federally funded and national in scope. This program supports women before, during, and after pregnancy to reduce infant and maternal mortality in our region. We offer one-on-one casework, and also convene a task force of partners who work on projects, professional development trainings, and community events for the families we serve.
My History and Background
So much of my life’s journey has led me to this work that I love! I have lived in southern Oregon since 2002, after growing up and attending college in California. The Rogue Valley stole my heart, and I have deeply appreciated being able to raise my children here. As a mom/stepmom of a blended family with five amazing kids, I am dedicated to supporting their various activities, enjoy our outdoor adventures, and being able to grow our own food in our little, but ever expanding (thanks to quarantine) garden.
There are so many factors that contribute to health equity in a community, including things like education, where you live, access to healthy food, employment opportunities, proximity to quality health care, and more. I understand that I have benefited from many positive social determinants of health, and believe everyone should share the same benefits.
Over the last decade, I’ve led organizations and served on a multitude of boards whose focuses have been health and safety, financial planning, the economy, and education. This includes serving on the boards of National Healthy Start, the Jefferson Regional Health Alliance, and Kid Time Museum. I am also a member of the City of Medford Budget Committee, United Way of Jackson County Policy and Community Development Committees, Umpqua Health Alliance Equity Committee, and many other local collaborative groups.
I also become an Equity and Inclusion trainer through the Cross Cultural Health Care Program in 2020. I then trained the HCCSO staff in all nine modules, and continue to keep this work front and center in all decision-making and program development.
In 2018, I ran for Jackson County Commissioner because of my drive to improve our community. I believe that our community leaders should have extensive experience working in the community they serve, with a dedication to ensuring everyone has access to a healthy life. Although I didn’t win, I continue working towards this end in both my professional and personal life.
My goal is to continue collaborating with local non-profits, foundations, government agencies, and individuals to increase everyone’s opportunity to live a healthy life.
My first year with HCCSO has been faced with unprecedented challenges. I remember when COVID quarantine began in March, and we thought it would just be “a two week pause”! Predicting the potential for long-term changes, we promptly shifted our work virtual and have continued to push our goals in new ways. I am thankful for a team that has been resilient and creative, because ten months later we are still in quarantine and able to continue our work!
Thankfully, we’ve also found that many virtual platforms have had unexpected benefits, including increased engagement with our partners and clients. By removing barriers around transportation, cost, and time away from work, we’ve had many more people participating in our Perinatal Task Force and professional development trainings.
In our efforts to engage the community around our Healthy Start program during the pandemic, we’ve also spent more time and effort in updating our online accessibility. We contracted with an amazing team at Ruby Slipper Designs to revamp our website and provide incredible virtual resources for families and partners.
In the year to come, we will continue our focus on health equity through increased board diversity, piloting new programs to serve our community, and engaging in community education that will help shape our local and state policies to best serve everyone.
I believe everyone has the right to a healthy life, and when organizations and people work together, we can accomplish so much!