Physician to lead Calif. foundation
It was her interest in examining how education, poverty and geography influence the health status of communities that prompted Dr. Sandra Hernandez to make the switch in 1997 from her role as director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health to the world of philanthropy, heading the San Francisco Foundation.
As she prepares to take over as president and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation in January, Hernandez reflected on her 16 years as head of the San Francisco Foundation and the lessons she learned about the potential role philanthropy can play in improving public health.
“The San Francisco Foundation was an extraordinary place to take a primary-care-trained physician like me and really deeply understand all of the different levers that exist in influencing health outcomes in communities, and ways in which philanthropy could act as a catalyst for social change and improved health in communities,” she says.
Hernandez said she’s thrilled to join the California HealthCare Foundation, with its $700 million endowment, as the nation implements the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“It’s a very historic time, in my view, to be able to engage in this philanthropic work while ACA implementation is underway,” Hernandez said. “It uses my background in having run a very large delivery system in the city of San Francisco.”
Hernandez succeeds founding President and CEO Dr. Mark Smith, who is stepping down from the position he has held since 1996.
“Passing the baton to Sandra Hernandez gives me great pleasure,” Smith said in a written statement. “I have admired her work both from afar and up close at San Francisco General Hospital ... I know she will capably lead the foundation into the future.”
Looking ahead, Hernandez said she planned to assess the programs the California foundation funds to see where resources can best be used. “I’m not really going in there to do a dramatic change of direction,” she said. “We will look at what’s working and what other opportunities exist.”