Associate Medical Group Administrator,  Kaiser Permanente,  3900 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma 94954,  415-722-1211, kp.org

Age: 64

Residence: San Francisco

Education: BS Nursing, University of California, San Francisco; master of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley

Tell us about yourself and your company: Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans, serving more than 9.1 million members, with headquarters in Oakland. We are unique in that we share an exclusive relationship between our health plan, hospital, and physicians group. The resultant integration has allowed us to provide the highest quality care to our members.

I serve as the associate medical group administrator at San Rafael-Petaluma-Novato.  My primary responsibilities include capital planning and projects, as well as providing administrative oversight for our Petaluma, Novato, and downtown San Rafael medical offices. My primary objective is to create support to enhance the relationship between the doctor and the patient.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share? One of my major accomplishments in this past year has been our work on building a new emergency department for the San Rafael Medical Center.  I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with myriad talented people in planning, designing, and currently constructing, a department that allows our physicians and staff to work in an environment that is functionally and operationally efficient. This has been a 20-year odyssey and is expected to open summer, 2014.

[caption id="attachment_75553" align="alignright" width="180"] Willa Jefferson-Stokes[/caption]

What is the achievement you are most proud of?The achievement I am most proud of is the planning, design, and construction of our Petaluma Medical Offices, which opened to the public in January, 1989.  This was my very first capital project and I approached it with intrigue and not a little apprehension, but once I got into it, we discovered that I have an affinity for this type of work. Our methodology was to follow the old credo “form follows function," insisting that the users be a part of the design and the clinical workflow be the driver.  I’m proud to say that the Petaluma Medical Office Building was a state of the art design for Kaiser Permanente, and as we approach our 25th year of service to Sonoma County, it has withstood the test of time and  changes in services and operations.

What is your biggest challenge today? My biggest challenge is always wanting to do more, and learn more.

Words that best describe you: Perfectionist, determined, logical, creative, visual, self-deprecating, and occasionally funny.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them? The field of design and construction is still heavily male-dominated, but I don’t think I approached working with men much differently than working with women. I learned a long time ago to treat people the way I wanted to be treated and handled people with openness and willingness to learn what I didn’t know.  My job was to represent the clinical needs and help interpret that into a cogent design. Along the way, the guys have taught me a lot.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years? I think health care reform has the potential to bring about significant and much needed change. The scary and exciting part of this change is that it’s hard to predict what it’s really going to look like. I think  we’re going to be challenged like never before.

Who was your most important mentor? And tell us a little bit about that person: My most important mentors were my parents, school teachers, friends, and colleagues. My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was a teacher. Education and learning, as well as service to our community were deeply ingrained in us from the beginning. I tend to surround myself with people whose accomplishments and characteristics I admire, so I find myself always in a constant state of learning something new.  When I am assembling a team for a project, I like to balance it with people who may have an opposing point of view just to make sure everything is considered.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today? I would say never be afraid to work hard, lead by example, always have a willingness to do more and to learn more, but most importantly, do what you love and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Current reading: The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy

Most want to meet:  I’ve been most fortunate to meet a lot of people in my life chief among them President Obama, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Barbara Walters, Johnny Mathis, and Alexander Skarsgård. Just to round it out, I’d love to meet Oprah and Hillary Clinton and it would be nice if she brought Bill along with her.

Stress relievers: I enjoy reading, going to the movies, traveling, spending time with my family and friends, and watching my favorite TV shows.

Favorite hobbies: My favorite hobby is going to Johnny Mathis concerts and attending film festivals.