This month, Afia Asamoah, Waymark’s Head of Legal and People, took the opportunity to speak with and learn more about Kaye Foster, a Waymark advisor. Kaye describes why she decided to work with Waymark and shares what she would like Waymark to achieve in the future.
Afia: Tell us about yourself.
Kaye: The best way to describe myself is that I am an immigrant, with my perspective informed by my immigrant spirit. I came to the US from the Caribbean at the age of 19 to seek a bigger, not better life. I was not running away from anything – I made the intentional choice to immigrate. I saw in the US bigger opportunities for bigger impact. But my first two years in the US were really tough. I came here with two advanced degrees and $50 in my pocket. I did almost every job, from housekeeper, nanny, cook, live-in, and cleaner to get a chance at those bigger opportunities. At a low point during this time, I remember my mom telling me that even when the conditions are hard, it is important to work hard and keep in mind the end goal.
Informed by my mother’s teaching and wisdom, I have worked to define my career by doing the hard things with grace, always in service to others. That is the meaning of a great life.
Afia: That is an inspiring and galvanizing purpose to guide one through life. I love it and I am appreciating and celebrating your mother’s wisdom! Why did you decide to work with the Waymark team?
Kaye: I got involved as an advisor for Waymark via the leadership team. I knew founders Rajaie Batniji and Sanjay Basu, not just by reputation, but I knew them personally, and saw their work and character first hand. I was an early advisor in Rajaie’s first company – I knew him to work in a way that was consistent with the mission, and witnessed the intentionality around how that company was built. I know Rajaie and Sanjay to be individuals that are committed to transforming healthcare, particularly for the underserved, and address inequity in healthcare service delivery. I find it compelling that they choose to use their gifts in this way.
But three things were appealing to me about Waymark, and made me say yes to the opportunity.
First, was the leadership team, whom, as I stated before, I knew and had direct experience with in their prior roles.
Second, was the mission. I am drawn to organizations with big, bold, disruptive missions. Waymark is working towards health equity, working to understand what needs to be reinforced and what needs to be disrupted in the current service delivery model for Medicaid populations.
Third, was the operating model. I love that Waymark is drawing from within the community, and seeking opportunities to help overburdened doctors be more effective in delivering care and closing the equity gap. The model is fundamentally community based, recognizing and celebrating knowledge and insights that community partners bring to the work, and using technology to enable and support that work, not supplant it.
Afia: You have spent your career building great teams and inclusive cultures. Waymark’s business model is focused on scaling proven interventions with a community based workforce, guided by the communities we are working in. What is the key to getting that model right?
Kaye: Waymark needs to listen deeply to those communities and value the wisdom inherent in those communities. The ability to do that well would be a differentiated capability in the market. In my experience, there is a tendency to value expertise over wisdom that comes from lived experiences. Waymark will need to balance those factors – expertise and experience –and ensure that it builds systems to ensure the learning is bi-directional.
Afia: I agree completely. We are building the team and executing our model with community knowledge and experience at the center of what we do. The hard work that we are committed to is in getting the balance you speak of, and the two-way learning and conversation, right.
What is the one thing you would want Waymark to execute as we seek to make a meaningful impact on systemic healthcare issues for underserved communities?
Kaye: Waymark should think about the entire continuum of care to achieve health equity and as you execute your business model, define metrics that capture the impact on outcomes, broadly defined. This should not be an afterthought and this data should continue to shape the interventions you are deploying and the approach you are taking.
Afia: Thank you so much for that insight. We all have an important role to play in reimagining the delivery of healthcare to everyone, with equity. And as you note, setting bold and measurable, data driven goals to combat health inequity, holding ourselves and others accountable, and continuing to act will be key to making a meaningful impact.
In the next few years, what contribution by Waymark would make you most proud to be an advisor to this team and company?
Kaye: Waymark is in a position to really transform health equity. I would love to see Waymark meet people where they are, and be in a position to tell the story of how you did it so it serves as a model for others.