Transition doesn't dim focus on strategic directions

By Sr. Carol Keehan, DC

Since I took office as the chairperson of the CHA board during the Membership Assembly in Chicago last June, it has been an interesting 12 months. I want to assure you that not a beat has been missed in pursuing our three strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. To that end, I am grateful to my colleagues on the board. . . to Michael Rodgers who has been serving as interim president/CEO. . . and to the rest of the wonderful CHA staff we have working for our ministry in both St. Louis and Washington, DC.

Sr. Carol Keehan, DCAs our association is about to begin a new fiscal year, we have under way a search process for the selection of a new president/CEO, and we have a new one-year strategic operations plan to guide our organization.

As part of the association's current transition, the CHA board decided to create a one-year strategic operations plan for fiscal year 2006, and to pursue the next strategic plan once new leadership is in place.

There was a new process initiated in the planning process for the coming year. Both the strategic operations plan and the budget/resource plan were undertaken as an integrated process. In doing so, there was an emphasis on more than just finances. Staff expertise and capacity were also included in the analysis.

Therefore, the association has developed a fully integrated resource plan to support our activities for this coming fiscal year. The resource plan includes a budget that reflects belt-tightening without sacrificing member services. And, the budget and operations plans allow the ability to respond to the unexpected.

The FY 06 Strategic Operations Plan continues to focus on the strategic directions of mission, ethics, and advocacy. In addition, we are focusing on a board-approved strategic initiative, called Covering a Nation, which targets generation of the political pressure and sustaining the public climate that will support creating health care that works for everyone over the longer term.

And, as you will find in reviewing the Strategic Operations Plan, the new operating plan revolves around a set of core strategies through which CHA will pursue its initiatives. These core strategies could be best summed up by the words "complement and enhance," "focus on pressing/high priority issues," and "assistance that supports the ministry." The plan is being distributed to the entire membership before the end of this fiscal year, along with the Accountability Report of CHA's progress during the last planning cycle.

In determining the initiatives for Fiscal Year 2006, the board reviewed staff evaluations of every ongoing activity. This was undertaken in order to determine whether an activity remains essential. Consideration was given to whether the activity continues to meet the needs of the ministry and whether the association has the resources to continue the work. As a result, there are several activities that have been supported previously but not included in the this year's plan and budget. And there are some activities that may not be pursued in exactly the same way. This was not a one-time review of activities. The board and staff will review current and potential activities annually in order to ensure the operations plan continues to be driven by the needs of the ministry, so that each year we are focused in our activities and respectful of our stewardship of dues.

Your board appreciates your participation in the planning activities. Your input has helped create this strategic operations plan and guided us on other planning discussions as well. On a personal note, I have been deeply appreciative of the comments I have received from so many of you. The board and staff continue to welcome your feedback.

Over the course of the coming months, our ministry will again come together to develop another strategic operations plan that will define and guide the future direction for CHA. As the people of Catholic health ministry, you have the best insight into what is most important and valuable to the patients we serve and to your organizations. Once again, I urge you to bring that wisdom to the table.