Anne Luecke applied for her first job out of college on a whim—and it set her on the path that would determine her entire career. “I worked nights at a women’s shelter in Northern Kentucky for a year and was often the only person there,” she says. The responsibility was immense, and the lessons she learned were invaluable.
“There was always a lack of support somewhere in [the women’s] stories,” she says. “They were in Cincinnati without family, or they got sick and didn’t have access to health care, or they had child-care issues. Even with all of the wonderful organizations trying to help, there were still holes in their support systems.”
That awareness followed her into subsequent jobs. Later, when she lived in Washington, D.C., she became a lobbyist and worked on policy and legislation for substance use and mental health disorders to improve access to care. In the process, she gained experience with “public health, not-for-profits, and funding issues between federal, state, and local entities.”
Upon returning to Cincinnati 10 years ago, she began consulting with local nonprofits and “plugged into a network in public health and human services non-profits, working with them on a variety of issues,” from fundraising and development work to helping organizations become more efficient. “Non-profits always face funding challenges, so it’s important they get the most out of what they do have.”
Luecke’s career has taught her that issues with health care access need to be addressed in a wholistic way: from policy at all levels of government right down to one-on-one interactions. And that’s where Health Care Access Now (HCAN) comes in.
Digging in and getting to work
Luecke sought out the chance to serve on a nonprofit board because the COVID-19 pandemic offered her a chance for reflection: “I wanted to do something a little different.” She found HCAN through the Cincinnati Cares board member match program. “I immediately felt like we were a good fit,” she says.
Through speaking with HCAN’s CEO, Sarah Mills, and other board members, she learned about HCAN’s mission to achieve racial equity in health care and found it resonated strongly with her. “We have a responsibility to improve the situation health care is in right now. HCAN understands the importance of building relationships and trust within the community” through its training and deployment of Community Health Workers (CHWs).
“I want people to know that CHWs get it. They’re smart, and they’re capable, and they will help [clients] figure things out and connect [them] to resources. Getting help is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has the need for help at times.”
New to the board, she is very much looking forward to “digging in and getting to work,” which includes using her own experience and “learning from other board members.”
Caring community members
Luecke has had a great deal of success in her career and says she is “proud to have done what [she] can” and hopes that “even on a small level, [she] improved the lives of people who found themselves without a safety net.” While she loves her career, she identifies her greatest source of pride as the raising of her two children, 14 and 11, to be “good human beings who understand the importance of taking care of others. My goal is to have two people I raised become caring members of the community.”