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Chief Executive Officer, Bellingham, WA

Unity Care NW

Chief Executive Officer

Bellingham, WA

July 26, 2019



Unity Care NW (UCNW)

Position Title: Chief Executive Officer


LuAnn Carlson, Senior Partner
Corporate Strategies & Development, LLC
Phone: (425) 828-0128

Mary Ellen Walton, Director, Administration & Communication
Phone: (425) 463-5558

Location: Bellingham, WA

Reports To: UCNW Board of Directors

Direct Reports: Director of HR & Compliance, Medical Director, Dental Director, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Information Officer, BH Director, Director of Planning & Development, Chief Financial Officer, Pharmacy Director, Executive Assistant


Everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest life

To increase the years of healthy life in the people and communities we serve

Respect, Integrity, Accountability, Collaboration, and Innovation

Unity Care NW is a local, non-profit health care provider that is part of a national network of community health centers (also known as a Federally Qualified Health Center or CHC).

Originally created by a coalition of community leaders, health professionals, volunteers, faith-based organizations, and concerned citizens, Unity Care NW has been providing high-quality health care services for over 30 years.

The nation’s community health center movement began as part of the War on Poverty. For over 50 years, community health centers have provided integrated health care to underserved populations, reduced barriers to health care, and offered high-quality care at lower costs, saving billions of dollars for taxpayers.

Integrated Team Care

Unity Care NW provides affordable primary medical, dental, behavioral health, and pharmacy services for children and adults. With a focus on prevention, our integrated care team provides comprehensive coordination of health care needs. We provide high-quality health care in a respectful, coordinated, and caring manner for the whole person, the whole family, and the whole community. Today, Unity Care NW operates four sites in Whatcom County employing nearly 300 caring and compassionate employees who work to increase the years of healthy life in the patients and communities Unity Care NW serves.

Keeping Care Affordable

Unity Care NW accepts Washington Apple Health (Medicaid), Medicare, and most private insurance plans. To assure access to care regardless of the ability to pay, Unity Care has a sliding fee scale that discounts charges according to household size and income for those who do not have insurance or who have high deductibles or co-pays.


Whatcom County, with a population of 226,000 people, is the service area of UCNW. Our corner of the Pacific Northwest features one of the most spectacular natural environments and moderate climates in the country. Located amid the green islands of the Washington coast and the majestic peak of Mt. Baker, Bellingham is a cozy community shared by about 90,500 people.

Whatcom County is a haven for those who appreciate nature and the outdoors. Outside Magazine rated Bellingham one of the Best Outside Towns in 2006 and OutdoorsNW calls it the “Best Paddling and Adventure Town.” Opportunities for outdoor recreation abound, as do daily opportunities for observing wildlife and admiring natural landscapes.

Whatcom County enjoys a thriving visual and performing arts scene, with a local symphony orchestra, monthly and seasonal art walks, studio tours, and performing arts centers at Western Washington University and the historic Mount Baker Theater.

Our rural landscape is a home to rich farmlands and numerous farmers markets. Local restaurant menus feature ingredients from local farms, and these same ingredients are available at farmers markets throughout the county. Bellingham Farmers Market was ranked #1 on Sunset Magazine’s 2011 list of Top 10 Farmers Markets in the West.

Our close proximity to two urban areas – Seattle, just 90 minutes south, and Vancouver, B.C., an easy 60-minute drive north – offers convenient access to the amenities of big-city life.


Under the general direction of the Board of Directors, oversees and directs all aspects of Unity Care NW. Plans, develops and directs administration of programs which include primary medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy and enabling services to ensure UCNW goals and objectives are met. Responsible for functions which include, but are not limited to, strategic and annual planning, community needs analysis, client advocacy, regulatory compliance, legislative analysis, grant writing, policy and procedure development and implementation, recruitment, training and development of staff and board, budget development and monitoring.


  1. Board Relations:
    1. Work with the Board of Directors to develop, implement and maintain the mission and goals of the organization.
      • Support the Board in the development of the mission, goals and values and incorporate this in policy statements for staff and planning for the future.
      • Operate in accordance with UCNW’s mission, goals and values in working with the staff, patients, and the public.
    2. Execute the Board’s directives in a manner consistent with the mission, goals and values of the organization.
    3. Support the Board of Directors in maintaining and updating effective Board structures, processes, and conducting effective meetings.
      • Coordinate development and publishing of the Board agenda and Board meeting packet with the Board President and provide adequate notice of Board meetings.
      • Provide information to Board members in the appropriate form and language in advance of Board meetings so Board members can adequately fulfill their responsibilities as Board members.
      • Work with the Board of Directors to sustain itself through effective recruitment, orientation & training of community-representative Board members.
    4. Inform the Board of Directors on a timely basis of issues, needs, developments, etc., which affect UCNW in the fulfillment of its mission, values, goals and objectives.
  2. Strategic Planning and Development
    1. Participate with the Board and executive staff in the development of long-term and strategic plans, objectives, and policies for the organization.
    2. Assume primary responsibility for assuring that UCNW program planning and development activities are coordinated with the rest of the community clinic system.
    3. Work with other components of the community health system on overall systems development, including serving on the Boards of the Community Health Network and Plan and Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers.
    4. Develop and maintain cooperative relationships with other organizations, including maintaining connections with public policy makers at federal, state and local levels.
    5. Establish and maintain liaisons and working relationships with current and potential funding sources.
    6. Complete annual operating plans to facilitate the achievement of goals established in UCNW’s short and long- term strategic plans.
    7. Negotiate and oversee development and management of grants, contracts and leases.
    8. In conjunction with the Board of Directors, oversee periodic organizational evaluations.
    9. Represents UCNW in local community forums in all of the communities where we have a presence to ensure UCNW understands those communities and acts as a good community partner.
  3. Public Relations and External Engagement
    1. Serve as the primary spokesperson for the organization on behalf of the underserved community served by UCNW.
    2. Oversee the annual legislative strategy communication and marketing plan for the organization.
    3. Identify and take a leadership role in collaborative efforts of UCNW with other community partners to achieve outcomes and impact that increase years of healthy life in Whatcom County.
    4. Leverage opportunities to speak before community and business groups to educate and engage them around healthcare issues facing the underserved.
    5. Participate in the leadership and activities of state and regional primary care associations and other affiliated organizations (e.g. CHP, NW Regional Primary Care)
  4. General Administration and Financial Management
    1. Oversee the administration of the organization to ensure that Board goals and objectives are achieved and align staff work plans with agency goals and objectives.
    2. Achieve budgeted financial objectives to achieve strategic goals of the organization and comply with UCNW’s funding source requirements which supports the mission, and values of UCNW.
    3. Establish formal responsibilities and accountabilities for all members of the senior leadership team and provide feedback and development, as needed.
    4. On a periodic basis, evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the administrative structure; recommend changes as appropriate.
  5. Personnel Management
    1. Build, lead and sustain a highly effective senior leadership team.
    2. Determine the most effective method for assigning responsibilities and duties to senior leadership team.
    3. Recruit, interview and select candidates for positions supervised.
    4. Lead senior leadership meetings to direct and plan for achievement of goals.
  6. Quality of Health Care Services
    1. Monitor the adequacy and quality of UCNW’s clinical activities through coordination with the Board of Directors, clinical staff, etc. to ensure quality expectations are met.
    2. Create an operational environment which facilitates the effective practice of Medical, Dental, Behavioral Health, Pharmacy and enabling services.
    3. Promote the delivery of healthcare service in a cost-effective manner consistent with maintaining, if not exceeding, acceptable quality as directed by the Board of Directors and other external agencies.
    4. Improve outcomes of care across the population of people and communities we serve and develop strategies to impact the social determinants of health.
    5. Ensure UCNW has the appropriate risk management program and is properly insured according to industry guidelines.
    6. Ensure compliance with regulations and governing bodies.
  7. Development and Fund Raising
    1. Ensures the organization has knowledge of fund-raising and development opportunities available.
    2. Oversees formal and informal communications with funding organizations and their representatives.
    3. Directs the efforts of staff in preparation and presentation of grant proposals to the Board.
  8. Other duties as assigned by the Board of Directors



  • Education and Experience: MA/MS in Healthcare Administration, Public Health or other related field. Related experience may be substituted for full educational requirements.
  • 10+ years of managerial experience in a health care setting
  • Two or more years of experience securing funding grants and managing grant programs (experience with 330 grants preferred).
  • Experience designing and developing start-up health care programs (such as satellite clinics, pharmacy, etc.) strongly preferred.
  • Knowledge of federal, state, and other applicable standards for community health care.
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills – ability to discuss and present information to UCNW’s diverse stakeholders including clients, staff, Board, community funding sources, provider partners, and others who may not grasp terminology commonly used in the healthcare industry.
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills – ability to maintain relationships with UCNW’s stakeholders and to work within team structures. Must be open-minded and receptive to diverse points of view. Must be able to build and maintain effective teams to achieve the objectives of the UCNW.
  • Management skills – ability to lead teams in the development of UCNW programs, cooperatively resolve problems, and effectively lead and direct department managers.
  • Strategic Planning – ability to proactively adapt the organization to future requirements and the achievement of agency mission and vision.
  • Strong fiscal and budgetary skills – Must have a strong understanding of principles and practices of financial management of community health centers.
  • Excellent knowledge base of current financing opportunities, structural/political shifts and demographic trends in the healthcare environment.
  • Commitment to building community and intra-agency collaborations to maximize comprehensive service to low-income families and individuals.
  • Understanding of local, state, and national issues that impact health care delivery systems.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with MS Office products such as Word, Excel and Outlook and basic familiarity with automated medical systems (billing, medical records, scheduling, etc.).


  • Managerial experience in a community health care setting, including medical, dental behavior health and pharmacy
  • Prior clinical experience, including clinical staff supervision.


  • A visionary leader, able to engage and inspire toward a shared direction throughout the organization and with external partners.
  • Demonstrated passion for the patient population Unity Care NW serves.
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills with equal aptitude when speaking to an individual or to a large audience.
  • A collaborator, who will naturally gravitate to explore partnerships with others that enhance the success of UCNW and the broader community.
  • Strong relational skills and a professional demeanor and presentation.
  • Recognizes the inherent strengths of diverse communities and embraces integration of diversity throughout UCNW.
  • A well nuanced individual, who consistently demonstrates a balance between self-confidence and humility.
  • Demonstrated ability of initiative, creativity, follow-through and success holding people accountable for performance.
  • Demonstrated natural curiosity that ‘asks’ and leverages the strengths of their team before ‘telling’ how to do something.
  • A commitment to growth and development of their team, with an eye toward succession planning.


  • Develop strong partnership with Unity Care NW’s Board and staff, gaining full understanding of existing expertise.
  • Address and creatively improve the challenge of provider recruitment and retention.
  • Establish a focus on operational excellence and quality metrics within the organization while remaining sensitive to patient and staff needs.
  • Leverage existing and develop additional broad based, collaborative relationships with community partners toward the goal of ensuring the highest caliber safety net in Whatcom County and surrounding communities.
  • Evaluate the existing leadership structure of UCNW and ascertain best fit necessary for the future of the organization.


Unity Care NW offers a competitive salary and benefit package commensurate with similar positions in non-profit community health settings.

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