While the countdown is on for WHAM Pittsburgh June 26th, plans are underway for a new kind of "Big Dig" in Boston: unearthing big ideas that will make health care more affordable, high-quality and advance key goals that serve women. Among invitees to a planning meeting was Andrea LePain, Founder of a public relations and media firm in Boston. The below are her impressions. - Pat Mastors, WHAMGlobal Coordinator
Every journey starts somewhere. This one began on the 32nd floor of One Beacon Street. It was 6:30am on the first day of June, and I was among the first to arrive at the University of Massachusetts Club for the inaugural planning meeting for WHAMGlobal's new City Champions event in Boston.
The early morning view of the city skyline was nothing short of awe-inspiring, but even more striking was the caliber of women who started filtering in for breakfast. Joanne Conroy, CEO of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center; Joyce A. Murphy, Executive Vice Chancellor University of Massachusetts Medical School, Dr. Charlotte Yeh, Medical Director for AARP Services; Lois Cornell, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Medical Society; Nora Moreno Cargie, President of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Valerie Fleishman, Executive Director of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI)…and so many other talented and accomplished women coming together to help fix what’s wrong with healthcare.
I was at the top of a Boston high-rise, getting in on the ground-level of something great. But there was an elephant in the room: What exactly is this event? I’m not sure any of us knew exactly what to expect.
Start the Ball Rolling
As Pat Mastors, founding Executive Director of the Patient View Institute (PVI) and National Coordinator for WhamGlobal explained, we were there to help launch Boston's City Champions event – an event that might be described as something of a “Shark Tank” meets “TedX Talk”.
The idea was to invite a select group of people onto a Boston stage in front of a live audience and have them pitch a big idea for how to improve healthcare. The winner would walk away with $10,000 and a suite of services including mentoring, introductions and training to help turn the idea into reality.
Wait, Wait – Tell me More
But do the ideas need to be marketable? What’s the criteria for applicants? What do we want them to accomplish if they win? Who will the judges be? Will there be a theme or topic? How will we differentiate the contest from others in the city?
That’s just a sampling of the questions that were raised off the bat, and our charge was to provide the answers. The details were ours to decide, and there was a lot to sort out. However, our mission was clear: create a new signature event for Boston that will be sustained in years to come because it is THAT GOOD.
There are countless variables that go into the creation of such an event, and no time for wheel-spinning. We jumped right in.
The first task at hand was to choose a date. Everyone agreed it made the most sense to hold WHAM Boston in Spring of 2018 – this would give us more planning time to hold a stellar event, and enough notice for people to mark their calendars. The hope is to find a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday next March, April or May on a day that doesn’t conflict with any of the major healthcare conferences nationwide or other big events happening in Boston.
Next on the agenda: choosing a venue. Susan Servais, Sr. VP at ZurickDavis and former Executive Director of the MA Health Council graciously stepped in to help, offering her knowledge and success in event planning in the city of Boston. Suggestions included Seaport Hotel, Top of the Hub, Westin & Marriot Copley Place, Suffolk Law School and others. The criteria: a venue big enough for between 200-400 people, but with theatre-type seating and a stage with production crew to record, perhaps even broadcast, the presentations. And, of course, a lobby area for cocktail hour, hors d’oeuvres and maybe dessert afterward.
Aside from logistics there are other key issues to address, such as fundraising and marketing. Over the next several weeks, we will begin forming subcommittees to continue discussion.
Much work remains, but as WHAMGlobal asserts – “there has never been a more critical time for concerted action that serves to make health care accessible, affordable, careful and kind. And women, with their unique sensibilities, collaborative thinking and problem-solving skills are uniquely positioned to make a very tangible and significant impact."
We’ll start to see things take shape over the next few weeks, but for now - all I know is this is no doubt, something to be excited about. It’s the start of something big.