by William Skink
Having recollected the vast sum of money generated by the sale of Community Medical Center, and now controlled by the Headwaters Foundations, I thought it might be good to get to know some of the people controlling 100 million dollars and change.
On the board the only person that really stood out was Richard Opper, a Bullock lackey who ran into some controversy in 2016 while he was director of DPHHS:
A former state auditor has sued the state of Montana, alleging she was wrongfully discharged for doing her job: uncovering misuses of state and federal funds at the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Carol Bondy, who was the DPHHS Audit Bureau Chief for 14 years before having her job terminated in December, also named the agency’s director Richard Opper in the suit filed Oct. 18 in Lewis and Clark County District Court. The suit makes several allegations that top state officials sought to hide requested information from legislators and bent or broke state contracting rules, citing audit work conducted as early as 2009. It also alleged without detail that the “practices were directed by persons located within the Governor’s office,” according to court documents. Bondy also argues in the suit that her firing violated state and federal labor laws, in part, because she had faced no previous discipline and she was banned from accessing her office while under review.
While one may chalk this up to politics, it should be noted DPHHS handled a recent budget shortfall in a manner that absolutely decimated support services for the most vulnerable. Keep that in mind when we get to the corporate-speak.
Next up is Brenda Solorzano, Chief Executive Officer. Here is her recent pedigree:
Headwaters Health Foundation has its first chief executive officer. Brenda Solorzano has been hired as the CEO. She comes to the Missoula-based foundation from her position as chief program director at Blue Shield of California Foundation in San Francisco.
At Blue Shield, Solorzano led the overall strategy, design, implementation and management of the $30 million grant-making portfolio. She is an attorney and has more than 17 years of experience in health philanthropy.
“Effective philanthropy should be in partnership with community, and the role of foundations should be about helping make change happen that benefits underserved communities,” Solorzano said in a news release.
Coming from San Francisco, Solorzano should know a thing or two about underserved communities, since rampant gentrification has done such a great job of making sure there is a ROBUST need for the kind of grant crumbs Solorzano will oversee in her new mountain locale.
Next up, Mynor Alejandro Veliz, Chief Financial Officer. Here’s what I found relevant about his background:
…he served as finance manager for Starbucks and oversaw the development of the annual operating budget and quarterly forecasts and supported the development of the strategic and operating plans for the 2,500 stores in the US and Canada.
Veliz attended the Harvard Business School Leadership Development Program. He holds an MBA from Eastern Washington University and a BA in business finance from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. He is a member of the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the Harvard Business School annual global summit planning committee.
So we have a political partisan, a health insurance executive, and a Starbucks finance manager leading the effort to direct this trickle-down philanthropy toward naseuatingly articulated visions of change that sound like this:
With a deeply resonating, unified community voice Montanans told us long-term success in improving the health of our communities begins with addressing the underlying issues that keep people unhealthy.
In our corner of the world, some families live in cars, children are exposed to high levels of violence and trauma early in life and working people struggle to find warm houses to live in. There are children who are, more often than not, hungry. In Western Montana, too many people struggle in the grips of addiction, and young men and women commit suicide at a staggering rate.
Montanans told us these situations are the result of deeper problems in their communities. But they also told us that together we could change the downward trends facing our state, that by working together Montanans can thrive.
And, um, please, just forget we did things like preside over severe Medicaid cuts when the going got tough, we raised your premiums when our bosses needed another private plane, and we got over $60,000 in public money for a Brooks Street Starbucks location.
Like so much in Missoula, when you look beyond the glitz and glamour of surfaces, a very different picture starts emerging about the forces running this town.
Speaking of glitzy surfaces, guess who developed the website for the Headwaters Foundation?
That’s right, I could hardly believe it myself. Spyder McKnight’s Six Pony Hitch created the slick online vehicle that delivers dreck like this:
We know that many people living in Western Montana have been left out of decision-making conversations that deeply affect their lives. We believe it’s time to change these conversations, change the system and change the power dynamic between funder and grantee.
That’s why we practice a new kind of philanthropy.
The kind of philanthropy that builds relationship on trust, that offers multi-year investments when possible, that streamlines processes and allows us to be a true partner.
With community at our core and trust as our default, we’ll put this new kind of philanthropy to work by investing more than $4 million in 2020 into community-driven solutions that reduce the social and economic barriers to health and wellbeing across four grantmaking programs: Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Influence, GO! Grants and Sponsorships.
Though a financial depression appears imminent (because we calculate debt by the Trillions now), don’t worry, this foundation is being led by a trifecta of politics, health insurance, and corporate finance, so it’s all good.
Anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?