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Featured Grantee Partner: SEAHEC

Interview Series: Transformational Grantmaking

  1. What are three interesting things people don’t know about your organization?

We have broad and wide partnerships. SEAHEC (Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center) is an all women-run organization and our staff represents the diversity of the three counties that we serve: Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Pima.

SEAHEC is one of longest-operating nonprofits based in Nogales, and we owe a lot of that to our valued partners.

We serve three counties and binational communities on the US-Mexico border. Our Binational Health Councils are active in Douglas, Agua Prieta, the Tohono O’odham nation, and elsewhere.

  1. What are you most excited about that’s happening at your organization?

An initiative that the WFSA is helping fund! This is the creation of an introduction to public health program with the Tohono O’odham nation, partnering with Tohono O’odham Community College and the Tohono O’odham Department of Health and Human Services.  We began with the creation of two high school health career clubs called Future Health Leaders. Their goal is to get native youth interested in pursuing a health career with the goal of coming back to serve their own community.  We are now adding a community college health careers component.

The Pre Health Program works with Future Health Leaders to help students build a path to a successful career while also helping Tohono O’odham Community College increase their enrollment, and those who graduate will be able to improve the health of their own community by ultimately becoming their own health providers. This is a better way to provide services and improve people’s economic situation.

  1. How has a grant from the Women’s Foundation transformed your organization? Is there something you now do differently?

We’ve strengthen our relationship with the Tohono O’odham nation, and the support from the WFSA has helped in our ability to serve the Tohono O’odham community, allowing us to expand services, expand two health career clubs and first ever tribal youth summer camp for future health leaders, and develop the original ideas for some of our current programs, including the pre health college program.

WFSA funding allows us the time and resources to intentionally create a more realistic program. We’ve learned a lot from their data and from how they represent their organization through public relations and social media.

  1. How has your organization grown stronger, increased its impact, or changed, because of your partnership with the Women’s Foundation?

SEAHEC had been primarily based in Santa Cruz County, but through networking and expanded connections our presence is now more recognized in Pima County through WFSA programs such as the Op-ed Project through which I’ve now been published in the Arizona Daily Star. To be able to have that public voice and express a border vision has been very empowering.

We’re also part of a University of Arizona collaboration on a project focusing on women’s behavioral health issues in Nogales and pursuing ways to improve behavioral health services. WFSA has provided financial resources and the power of convening people to address women’s behavioral health needs.

  1. How did you first hear about the Women’s Foundation and their grants?

Through the Santa Cruz Community Foundation, which fits under the umbrella of the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, we’d received a small grant, and via this connection we learned about WFSA.

  1. What keeps you up at night when thinking about your organization?

Our future financial stability, and the worry that in rural border and tribal communities women getting ahead professionally can be viewed as a threat, given our current political climate.

  1. What do you see ahead for women and girls in Southern Arizona?

I was pleasantly surprised about the passing of Proposition 206 which secures a wage increase, a necessary thing for economic stability for women and girls.

I see opportunities in the health workforce, one of few sectors that is growing, as more girls choose that as a profession that will keep girls out of poverty. I see a lot of leadership among women and solid visionaries in local and community levels, which is encouraging.

  1. And finally, is there anything else you would like to add about how the Women’s Foundation helps you in fulfilling the mission of your organization?

We really appreciate the support and mentorship from the WFSA!

Gail Emrick is Executive Director of the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center, an organization whose mission is to improve the recruitment, placement and retention of culturally competent health professionals in rural and under-served communities of Southeast Arizona.

Special thanks to Women’s Foundation volunteers Gabriela Cervantes and Liz Levine for interviewing this organization and for serving as guest editors.