Underwater Reflections

Peter Long, Ph.D.

Warm summer weather often takes me to the pool to swim laps. While I have accepted that I will not be the next Katie Ledecky, the quiet of the pool and the rhythm of a freestyle stroke help me to do my best thinking. At the Foundation, we are similarly making time for reflection; to identify and build upon our successes, learn from our failures, and develop fresh strategies to keep pace within an ever-changing external environment. Thus far, it has been an energizing process that has reaffirmed our values, provided new clarity about what we hope to accomplish, and pushed us to dive deeper and think bigger about the ways in which we can make a meaningful difference.

While thoughtful evolution is necessary, the Foundation’s constant and overarching vision remains “to dare greatly.” To paraphrase the words of Theodore Roosevelt, uttered more than one hundred years ago, “It is not the critic who counts…the credit belongs to the (wo)man who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends him(her)self in a worthy cause….” Regardless of our future strategies, we will remain steadfastly in the arena with enthusiasm and devotion to the organizations, individuals, and movements that are working alongside us to achieve health and safety for all Californians.

Thank you to those who have contributed their time, talent, and perspective to help guide our strategic planning process this year. I look forward to sharing the Foundation’s refreshed vision for change in 2017, and am grateful for the partnership of our grantees and allies as we continue to move through the water towards a better, brighter, and more equitable future.

At the same time, ongoing work has not paused or slowed. Even as we pursue new ideas and insights, we’re also seeing real-time impact:

  • It’s well-known that healthcare policy is an epic adventure; one that’s not frequently rewarded with breakthrough successes. However, we can celebrate a recent exception. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they will provide the maximum award - nearly $1 billion over four years – to California to support a Global Payment Program made possible by the new federal Medi-Cal waiver. I am proud that the Foundation, along with The California Endowment, was able to support the research that helped to secure this important funding for our state.
  • Inspiration through revolution took place a few months ago when I had the chance to travel to Cuba with my fellow board members from Grantmakers in Health. This is a transformative time in Cuba’s history, and as we toured and witnessed a number of remarkable social programs, I was struck by the power of community connections and solidarity. There is much to learn from Cuba’s social-sector achievements – particularly in health care – and I came away from the trip energized by how we might apply some of that learning to strengthen and scale the amazing programs underway in our own healthcare safety net. I hope you’ll read my blog, which discusses the trip further, and perhaps find some of your own inspiration to fuel our collective work.
  • Openness to different approaches and solutions also brings us to the intersection of health care and domestic violence. A new infographic from JSI highlights the financial impact of domestic violence on our healthcare system. In addition to making the business case for physicians to play a greater role in addressing and preventing domestic violence, it illuminates a larger truth: that we cannot address health and safety in isolation. Meaningful progress will require us to move beyond our individual sectors and silos, engage new partners, and broaden the way that we support whole people, families, and communities.

As we drive forward in our mission to end domestic violence and improve health equity for those most in need, I hope we can continue to come together with humility, curiosity, and a willingness to learn from one another in order to produce enduring change. I encourage you all to join us by engaging in open dialogue and sharing your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter (@PeterLongBSCF) - because we’re all only one conversation, one action, or one swim away from a new idea.

In partnership,


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