Meet Sonoma County Medical Association's Wendy Young, a 2019 North Bay Women in Business winner

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Wendy Young

Executive Director

Sonoma County Medical Association, Mendocino-Lake County Medical Society and Medical Society of Sonoma County (501(c)3 nonprofit)

2312 Bethards Drive, Suite 6, Santa Rosa, CA 95405



Read more profiles of 2019 North Bay Women in Business Awards winners:

North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Wendy Young to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.

Professional background: I was a paralegal for many years both in San Francisco and Santa Rosa before getting into nonprofit professional association management. I was the executive director for the American Institute of Architects, Redwood Empire Chapter for ten years before taking on the Sonoma County Medical Association and Mendocino-Lake County Medical Society.

Education: Sonoma State University graduate; Leadership Santa Rosa Class XXV

Staff: Team of four and multiple boards!

Tell us about yourself and your company: I am the executive director for SCMA/MLCMS representing organized medicine in Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.

As the greatest advocate for physicians in California. SCMA and MLCMS brings the local voice to the conversation. We provide the physicians with the resources to keep up with the changing realities of the practice of medicine and the business of health care. We strive to keep the physicians in our communities up to date with local and state news, practice resources and community discounts from vetted businesses that meet the needs of both the professional and personal side of the physician.

Our work allows physicians to focus on caring for their patients knowing that we are working on their behalf and only a phone call away

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

In 2018 we created the 501(c)3 arm of the organization to allow us to serve the community through the professional organization. Through the Medical Society of Sonoma County, SCMA has partnered with Transcendence Theater for the summer 2019 season to provide first aid resources on site at every performance.

Our physicians will be volunteering their time outside of the office to make sure that every guest, volunteer and performer at Broadway Under The Stars is taken care of in case of an emergency. We are happy to have made this first step in being a resource for large events here in Sonoma County.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Although SCMA is a 160 year old Sonoma County organization, we are all very proud of the new vibrant organization created in the last two years. It has been a pleasure to work with my team to look at the offerings of the organization and to reimagine what the members would benefit from the most. It is an interesting dilemma to try to be something different to everyone but I think we are doing well.

The last two years has been a series of trial, errors, successes and growth. Membership is at an all-time high at a time when membership in professional organizations across the board is declining. We have a new board of directors, which in itself brings energy to our offerings and member value. It is a pleasure to work with the physician leadership and listen to what they want from the organization, and then make it happen.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Getting the physicians to understand the value of organized medicine and what we do for them. Building trust in a professional organization is a challenge all organizations face. That is no different here.

Wendy Young

Executive Director

Sonoma County Medical Association, Mendocino-Lake County Medical Society and Medical Society of Sonoma County (501(c)3 nonprofit)

2312 Bethards Drive, Suite 6, Santa Rosa, CA 95405



Read more profiles of 2019 North Bay Women in Business Awards winners:

We want the physicians to turn to us when they need assistance with reimbursement, medical business issues, practice management and to protect the viability of their practice. Some physicians will pay their membership dues because they support organized medicine. This is terrific, but we want to be much more to the physician. We have a team that works tirelessly on their behalf.

Words that best describe you: Dedicated. Tenacious. Vivacious. Energetic. Creative. Resourceful. Positive. Compassionate.

Keep an eye out for the happy SCMA vehicle. The graphics designer asked what I wanted when I went to design a wrap for the car. I said “rainbows, butterflies, unicorns and vineyards.” He thought I was joking. I wasn’t and that is exactly what we did.

As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

Female professionals unfortunately still face stereotypical profiles. The men with the same roles in the community are never considered anything less than the CEO or executive director. Women are still considered secretaries, assistants or party planners. The best way to overcome this is to just be myself. When I am leading a conversation or running a board meeting, those antiquated ideas are quickly dashed.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

The practice of medicine is changing rapidly and we must change with them. Many physicians are joining groups. The number of physicians in solo/small practice is shrinking.

However, we must still serve both markets. Group practices work to be everything to their physicians as part of their group benefits. Many of these benefits are offerings the physician used to get from their membership in organized medicine.

We undoubtedly are still the best bet for solo/small practice physicians, but we needed to pivot in how we serve group physicians. We are rolling out a robust statewide physician wellness program that is very exciting to not only the solo/small physicians but also the group leaders are taking an interest in outsourcing the very important role of wellness to organized medicine. We are happy to take the lead on wellness and help our physicians maintain peace of mind and wellness of body so they may better serve their patients.

Who was your most important mentor?

As I stumbled into the leadership role in organized professional organizations, I really didn’t have a mentor.

However, I have over the years looked to women who serve the community in the same way and take my cues from some of these amazing women. Some of these women include: Judy James, Wendy Hilberman, Katrina Thurman-Wilkinson, and Karissa Kruse. These incredible, strong women have influenced how I approach my leadership role, how I hope to be received by the community and how I serve my members.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?

Find something you love to do and then figure out how to make a career out of it. Get to know your members and listen. Running a professional organization is not about what you want, but what your member wants. It can be a very challenging and rewarding experience.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: As mentioned above, I admire the woman who are serving our community for their selfless dedication to making a difference.

Typical day at the office: Let’s take today as an example: I will review results from last week’s programs/events with the team and discuss next steps. I will review and approve final copy for the Spring/Summer issue of our publication, Sonoma Medicine; finalize the board meeting agenda for tomorrow; and then head over to St. Joseph to meet with the leadership and wellness committee on the new wellness initiatives from CMA/SCMA. In my free time, I will listen to voicemails, return calls and weed through emails hoping not to lose anything important in the process!

Best place to work outside of your office: Poolside at Coppola Winery. It’s great. I get a lounge chair, umbrella, food service, wifi and sunshine!

Current reading: I just ordered the “White Coat Investor’s Financial Boot Camp: A 12-Step High-Yield Guide to Bring your Finances Up To Speed.” We just started a physicians investment club and had a great first event. Since this is going to be monthly, I need to bring my limited investment knowledge up to speed quickly!

Most want to meet: My grandchildren! The greatest joy of my life are my children Nicholas (22) and Aly (20). I can’t wait to meet their little treasures, someday. Just saying I can’t wait to meet them when the time comes!

Social media you most use: LinkedIn. I don’t understand the point Instagram or Twitter, so I presume I am not their target audience.

Stress relievers: Any time I get to spend with my fiancé’ Jeff is my stress relief! He knows me so well and yet, still appears to adore me. A glass of wine on the patio with Jeff is my happy place!

Favorite hobbies: Recently my “hobby” has been in home design as I am working to create a great outdoor entertainment space. You can find me most Saturday mornings at ReStore looking for treasures to add to the space.

You can also find me at the Treasure House. It is a consignment shop on Airway Drive where I volunteer. All proceeds go to the YWCA’s Battered Women’s Shelter of Sonoma County. Summer weekends you will find my bum in an innertube floating down the Russian River with pals enjoying the beauty (and bounty) of Sonoma County.

What would parents or significant others say if asked to brag about you?

“Wendy has a generous spirit and the kindest heart you’ll ever meet. She balances her professional and family life with equal passion, enthusiasm, and creativity. A dull moment does not resonate in my vocabulary when I think of spending time with Wendy. Every career path and organization that Wendy chooses to engage with has been a shining success because of her efforts from being a professional paralegal to running professional associations. I am proud to know and love this wonderful lady and would gladly brag about her anytime!” – Jeff Davies, Design Engineer, Camelbak, Petaluma

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

Thank you to those lovely individuals who took the time to nominate me for this award. I am happy to work with you and honored that you found my work worthy of your nomination. I appreciate you!

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