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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, June 25, 2012, 6:30 am

Women in Business 2012: Jo Sandersfeld

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    Jo SandersfeldVice president of mission integration, St. Joseph Health–Sonoma County, 1165 Montgomery Dr., Santa Rosa 95405, 707-525-5310, www.StJosephHealth.org

    Age: 64

    Residence:Santa Rosa

    Education: Masters in Social Work with a Concentration in Community Organizing

    Tell us about yourself and your company: I serve on the executive management team for St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County. My primary responsibility is assuring the community and organization that our mission, vision and values are part of what we do and how we do it. I am charged with ensuring, for example, that our core values of dignity, justice, excellence and service are not just words we display on a wall, but that we really live them, and all who encounter us know the difference.

    I also have the privilege of working with our staff in our community benefit programs to be sure we are focused on creating healthy communities through building the capacity of the leaders in those communities. We are also very focused on improving the health of our community by creating access to care for those who may not have access and working in partnership and collaboration with other agencies, programs and individuals.

    Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?: The work that we have accomplished together with Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Sonoma County Department of Health Services regarding health care workforce development.

    What is the achievement you are most proud of? For me, it was the work I did using my community organizing skills in the beginning development of our Neighborhood Care Staff. It was clearly the actualization of a quote from Margaret Mead: “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It is also the reason I love working at St. Joseph Health: we are about community and we are about relationships and how we build capacity.

     Women in Business 2012What is your biggest challenge today? I believe the biggest challenge is working in an ever-changing healthcare environment, keeping your sense of humor and keeping the needs of the patient at the center of our decisions.

    Words that best describe you: Good sense of humor; irreverent; compassion; what you see is what you get; direct.

    As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them? Rapid change is a constant in health care, and it demands that we respond and transform so quickly that often we are challenged to maximize time for reflection before implementing a plan or project. Continually reminding ourselves that we have to carve out that time to re-examine our processes before moving forward is vital to the sustainability of new endeavors.

    How do you think your profession will change in the next five years? I probably can answer that question best in four years, but taking a stab at it now, I would say we are moving back to a public health model for the delivery of care with prevention at the center. That is a good thing

    Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: Her name was Celine. She instilled in me that if I wanted to make anything happen it would have to be done by empowering, inspiring and energizing a small group of people. I needed to believe in the issue, the initiative or whatever, and to never close the door on an idea because all were welcome. She also encouraged me to look at the whole problem, environment, etc., because you may find the answer in the most unlikely place so roll up your sleeves and get busy.  

    What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today? Chose the work you love that energizes you every day, believe in yourself and appreciate the work of those you work with. You may not solve world hunger today but there is always tomorrow.

    Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Redwood Empire Food Bank staff and leadership

    Current reading: Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith

    Most want to meet: Dorothy Day, Saul Alinsky

    Stress relievers: Being in nature, especially the mountains and at the beach.

    Favorite hobbies: Vacations, playing with grandkids

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