Getting Ready for the Year Ahead: Celebrating and Supporting Health Center Boards

Emily Heard is NACHC’s Director of Health Center Governance Training.

As we ring in the New Year, it is important to celebrate the thousands of volunteers across the country who generously donate their time and expertise by serving as Community Health Center board members!

Boards govern health centers and play an important role in establishing a center’s strategic direction in partnership with the CEO, approving key policies, and providing oversight in various areas such as finance and clinical quality.

What makes health center boards truly unique, however, is that 51% of their members must be patients of the center. The federal law that established health centers requires this patient-majority, community-based board composition to help ensure that health centers are responsive to community needs.

As Yvonne Davis, board member at Health Care Partners of South Carolina, points out, “it is this patient-driven dynamic that informs the health center model of care.”

Jonathan Lee, President & CEO of Signature Health in Ohio, offers further observations about the benefits of the health center board model in a short resource on the topic. Lee notes:

“The secret to the success of health centers is being embedded and interconnected to the communities we serve. The only way to achieve that deep personal connection with our communities is to have our health centers overseen and guided by members of our communities who actually use the health center…Instead of telling our patients what would help them, we partner with them and ask them, ‘What would help?’ and then deeply listen.” 

Resources to Support Health Center Boards

In its strategic pillars, NACHC commits to serving the learning needs of these amazing board members and boards. And, while your board may know NACHC best for its long-standing Board Member Boot Camp* program, NACHC now offers over 50 training tools and resources to support health center boards and board members on a variety of topics.

These items are consistently the most-accessed resources on the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse, and can be integrated into a board’s own ongoing education at board meetings, be used for new member orientation, or be used by individual board members to expand their knowledge. A brief snapshot is below. We hope these will help your health center board as we kick off 2023!

In 2023, look for new resources for boards related to workforce and various forms of expansion available on the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse Governance Quick Finds Section.

We want to hear from board members and CEOs!

In 2023, we want to hear from health center board members and CEOs so that we can continue to develop resources to equip them for the opportunities and challenges ahead! NACHC has launched an online assessment tool to learn more about health center board practices and needs as we emerge from the pandemic. Findings will also allow us to identify practices and emerging trends in health center governance to share with boards across the country.

If you are a health center board member or CEO, please participate in this online tool before February 13, 2023:

If you are a health center staff member, please consider reminding your CEO of this project.

Unless otherwise noted by (*), all projects listed are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,625,000 with individually noted percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.