Our board Secretary Doris Gray received well-deserved recognition October 12 from the Illinois Primary Healthcare Association as its Consumer Health Board Member of the Year for 2018.
The Association is the statewide organization for Federally Qualified Health Centers, FQHCs, including Heartland and more than 40 other agencies that provide primary care to more than 1 million patients in 400-plus locations statewide.
Gray is dedicated to Heartland Health Centers and FQHCs: “The way the economy is, people need the type of services that Heartland Health Centers offers,” she says. “Because it’s a sliding-scale fee and you get A-1 care.”
Board Chair Phillip Dothard congratulated Gray, noting that she plays a number of roles on the board including orienting new members as well as providing continuity. “Doris is the history of Heartland Health Centers,” Dothard said. “Whenever she speaks at meetings, the rest of room stops to listen to what she has to say.”
Gray, 78, was born in Mississippi and grew up in Chicago. She graduated from Truman College in 1985 with an Associate’s Degree. She went on to a career as a receptionist and office administrator, ultimately working at Arens Controls Company, LLC, from 1991 to October 2003.
When Arens was purchased by an out-of-state firm in 2003, Gray declined an offer to relocate to Binghamton, NY. Without access to employer-provided insurance, she started looking for healthcare alternatives. She found Heartland Health Centers’ clinic, then located at Sheridan and Lawrence in Chicago.
After just a year of getting care from Heartland, her doctor asked if she’d be interested in being a consumer representative on the board, which she did in 2004. She’s been on the board ever since, making her our longest-serving member.
She has also served as the Secretary of the Heartland Health Centers Board for the past 10 years and has rarely missed a meeting. Doris has helped recruit other consumer board members. She participates in interviewing prospective members and ensures they understand the commitment needed to be on the board. When Heartland Health Centers was rebranding their logo and tagline, it was Doris who inspired the tagline “Healthcare from the Heart.”
The tagline inspired an outreach campaign that has helped Heartland Health Centers reach more patients and neighbors, leading to a growth in people served as well as an increase in public support for our organization. Earlier this year, we won two prestigious branding awards for the campaign from the Publicity Club of Chicago public-relations group.
“Doris shares in the credit for these awards as she continues to inspire us with her heartfelt dedication to Heartland Health Centers,” CEO Gwenn Rausch said.
Other than relocating to Ohio briefly after her husband passed away, she has always lived in Chicago, where she has three surviving children. She lives with her daughter and their cat Mr. Wiggles in Chicago’s Edgewater community. Her sons work for the Chicago Transit Authority.
In her spare time, Gray says, she enjoys “being with my family, friends, and being a part of this great organization.” She enjoys jigsaw puzzles, reading a good book, and traveling to Ohio to visit her siblings.
We are lucky to have Gray and glad she is planning to stick around, as she told us when we suggested nominating her for this award: “This organization has served me far beyond and better than I could ever have been served, even when I was employed.… As long as I’m allowed to and I’m able to, I’m willing to continue to stay on the board in compliance with what the regulations of this board require.”