Working for Health Care Access, Education and Justice

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Three Bowdoin alumni joined together to show students a multitude of ways to become involved in the dynamic and ever-growing health care sector. Don Blanchon ’86, Lisa McElaney ’77, and Zander Abbott ’08 emphasized that varied skill sets, motivated minds, creativity and passion are crucial attributes of those leading the health care effort in today’s environment.

As Blanchon put it, “the role of somebody in leadership is not to have the answers … it is to learn, listen, and process.”  He and his fellow panelists have all learned throughout their careers how to harness their individual abilities to best aid an underserved population. Through evidence-based media interventions at Vida Health Communications, McElaney targets audiences to reduce risky behavior. Abbott finds his passion in the operations side of health care, where he tackles the challenge of using information, data and technology to improve preventative care at Maine Medical Center.

Blanchon, the CEO of Walker-Whitman Health, noted that the US system is a sick-care enterprise, as more and more people fall into the underinsured category and do not receive adequate care. Yet the panelists delivered an encouraging message to Bowdoin students, who are the generation that will soon be tackling today’s ongoing issues of health access, education and justice. That message was beautifully conveyed by McElaney’s ending thoughts: “the gift of a liberal arts education, I can see in retrospect, was that sense of general openness and the use of skills that I learned [at Bowdoin].”

blanchonDon Blanchon, ’86, MPH, MPA

Don Blanchon is the Executive Director of Whitman-Walker Health, a community health care facility in DC specializing in HIV/AIDS and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender care. He received his graduate degree from Columbia University and worked for three start-up health care companies in a row.

Blanchon is passionate about the emerging fields in medicine and believes, “we’re now doing things where we’re stretching the bounds.” He sees health and wellness as a social justice issue and strives to repair the disparities of health care access today.

mcelaneyLisa McElaney, ’77, MFA (Film)

Lisa McElaney is the Co-Founder and Health Communication Strategist for Vida Health Communications, Inc. specializing in public health and health communications research. Holding a graduate degree from Columbia, she is completing a second master’s degree in psychotherapy. She has received the Common Good Award at Bowdoin.

McElaney wants to shift behavior with education through multimedia, including evidence-based films. Through improving technology, she says, “all of us will be disseminating good solid information to those who need it most.”

abbotZander Abbott ’08, MBA

Zander Abbott is an Administrative Fellow at Maine Medical Center specializing in health sector management and finance. He received his MBA from Boston University where he quickly realized that his skills and interests lay on the administrative side of the health field.

Abbott considers information, technology and data to be untapped resources in the health care field and hopes to utilize these tools to help progress the mission of Maine Medical Center: providing excellent care to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

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