With a heart for serving her community, Orange County District 4 School Board Member Pam Gould recently took on another title — president and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope.
Gould, a West Orange County resident, was introduced to the nonprofit’s supporters as its new president and CEO during the Call to Hope fundraising breakfast April 24.
Since moving to the area in 1990, Gould is no stranger to service in the community. She began in the finance department of Orlando Health before becoming vice president of community relations at Health Central Hospital, where she also served as president of the hospital’s foundation. Most recently, she had her own consulting company. Other credits include having once served as interim president and CEO of Dave’s House, and her current services as the Orange County School Board District 4 member and a West Orange Chamber of Commerce board member.
But it was during her time at Health Central that she began working with Shepherd’s Hope, and it’s her involvement with Shepherd’s Hope that helped guide her to her newest role. The organization’s former president and CEO, Marni Stahlman, stepped down in December.
Shepherd’s Hope is one of Central Florida’s largest free clinics for both the underinsured and uninsured, and has served about 250,000 patients since opening on Feb. 14, 1997. The nonprofit is mainly run by volunteers and runs five clinics in Central Florida, with a new Winter Garden location set to open in June.
After encouragement from friends and family spurred her on, Gould decided to send in her résumé and do some research. She was part of a nationwide search involving about 300 applicants, and both her experience and desire to intertwine education and health care were the driving forces behind her passion to take on this new role.
“When I was at Health Central, I worked to support Shepherd’s Hope,” she said. “I’m a member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, too, so I feel like I have always been a part of their mission. Shepherd’s Hope has been in and out of my professional and personal life for the past 18 years. … The minute that I walked into the Shepherd’s Hope offices, it felt very natural. I haven’t had that weird transition anxiety that you often have. … It’s just where I’m meant to be, so it’s very natural and easy.”
TAKING THE REINS
Gould sees her new role as a calling and said there are two essential ingredients for a person’s prosperity and success: health care and education. A person has to feel well to do his or her best work, and education is important for helping to further ensure someone’s success in life.
As president and CEO of Shepherd’s Hope, Gould will support and manage the daily operations of its soon-to-be six clinics — as well as the 2,800 volunteers who operate them and the more than 19,000 patients they serve annually.
“I see our greatest opportunity here as figuring out how we can utilize technology and partnerships to reach more patients and support (their) care,” she said. “What I hope to accomplish through the technology piece is exploring a telemedicine component. I’d also like to look at greater access to mental-health services. … We know there’s a shortage of those resources in Central Florida.”
Over the past few years, Shepherd’s Hope has seen an influx in the number of children in need of pediatric services. That results in the challenge for Gould of working with staff to ensure all families are served and provided with quality care.
“I want to get as many of our community members and corporate partners involved and engaged as we can to make health care seamless and provide quality of life to people we serve,” she said. “Good health is essential for one to be successful. I am here to support our frontline leadership, staff and volunteers … a major ingredient in providing the tools and resources is trying to match community interest with our mission.”
Gould is looking forward to getting through her transition period so she can get a better idea of the organization’s next steps and the best ways to serve both her team and the community. Additionally, she is anticipating the opening of the new Winter Garden clinic and hopes to be able to increase the hours of operation.
And although the new Winter Garden clinic is funded, she said, there is still a need for financial contributions to purchase miscellaneous items to prepare the clinic and office for its summertime opening. Donations are being accepted through Shepherd’s Hope’s website, and every bit is appreciated.