Harvey Lawrence

President and CEO, BMS Family Health and Wellness Centers

How old is your organization? Approximately 37 years
What sector do you work in? Health Care and Wellness, Community Development
How long have you been working in this sector? 25 years
How long have you been with your current organization? 25 years

If you have worked with CRE in some capacity, what impact did it have?
BMS has had a relationship with CRE for nearly twenty-five years. CRE has provided training and coaching services to our management team, including facilitated management development training at our management retreats and contributing to the development of leadership within our organization, including the organization’s present President & CEO. Most notably, many years ago when BMS needed to procure a safe and secure neighborhood facility from which to provide HIV and other supportive services, CRE assisted BMS with its first-ever major capital campaign. The organization undertook a complete gut renovation and a conversion of an old three-story neighborhood warehouse building into a service site. Although this client-focused capital campaign was the first-ever for CRE and for BMS, the campaign was a resounding success largely in part because of CRE’s supportive partnership, mutual exuberance, and commitment.

What is the single greatest challenge you face today in your sector?
Despite substantial federal investment in the health center workforce, health care staffing shortages and turnover are challenges that are projected to increase over the next couple of years. This shortage of primary care and mental health providers is a nationwide issue, but there is an even more acute impact on community health centers that need to compete with private practices and retail clinical providers. The financial uncertainties with Medicaid funding, perhaps because of new policies and new payment models, could exacerbate current problems, like recruitment and retention.

What has been the most significant development in your sector over the last 40 years?
Nonprofit service providers must remain relevant and necessary to the ever-shifting needs and demands of their clients. Except where virtually impossible to achieve, nonprofits should strive to assist clients in becoming self-reliant arbiters of their destiny, lives, and communities. As in community organizing, “Agency” is essential to a not-for-profit’s continued relevancy to the evolving needs of their clients. In this regard, nonprofits should consider adhering to what is referred to as the iron rule in community organizing: “never do for others what they can do for themselves.” So, while services provided by many not-for-profits are central to the lives and well-being of their clients/constituency, a nonprofit long-term relevancy is intricately interwoven with its cultivation, promotion, and acceptance of a client “having Agency “over their own lives and community.

Based on your experience, please offer one piece of advice to a person hoping to break through as a leader in your sector.
“Be (and Lead) the change you wish to see in the world.”

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