Celebrating five years with Rosa Gimson: ‘I opted for something I believed in’

Celebrating five years with Rosa Gimson: ‘I opted for something I believed in’

Carmen Berkley, Rosa Gimson and Kendall Clawson

Rosa (center) with Vice President of Programs Carmen Berkley and Portfolio Director Kendall Clawson at her final board meeting as board relations manager in September.

Rosa Gimson is one of Group Health Foundation’s first employees and is transitioning from her current role as board relations manager to become the foundation’s first community engagement manager. Rosa’s spent the past five years helping to lay the groundwork at GHF and architecting systems and processes in each of the roles she’s held. After purchasing her first home with her partner and mom in 2021, she’s also renovating the space they share. In both her personal and professional lives, Rosa’s keen vision and creative ability has shaped the world around her.

After graduating with her Master of Public Administration degree, Rosa knew she faced a decision and remembers the prospect of joining a newly established foundation as a big risk. “I really felt that I was taking a total leap of faith on an organization whose values resonated with me…I opted for something I believed in.” Rosa laughs now as she recalls peers who questioned her choice, but she knew it was the right step for her and was confident the foundation would prove itself over time.

Rosa Gimson celebrating her birthday in 2019 with the GHF team.

The GHF team in 2019 celebrate Rosa’s birthday.

Rosa’s prediction proved true, and in the past five years, she has worked alongside a growing team of colleagues and witnessed the foundation surpass her wildest expectations. She acknowledges that the GHF of today is the product of a tremendous, collective, and ongoing effort, including the Group Health Cooperative employees who shared institutional knowledge and helped build infrastructure during GHF’s earliest days. (GHF was formed when Kaiser Permanente acquired Group Health Cooperative. GHF is an independent foundation with no formal connection to Kaiser.)

She also credits President and CEO Nichole June Maher—“She so clearly embodies the organization’s values”— and her “massively skilled” colleagues for their dedication and willingness to ask hard questions. “For every decision we make, we ask, ‘Are we being accountable to the people we serve? Is this values-aligned? Does it further our mission?’ It’s hard, but it’s how we’ve become the organization I imagined. We make our values real by practicing them.”

Since she started at GHF, Rosa has served as the assistant to the CEO, special assistant to the CEO, program associate, board relations manager, and now community engagement manager. Rosa has been the first to hold nearly all her roles, and she’s enjoyed crafting processes to pass along to the next person in the position. After two pivotal years in the President’s office, she’s looking forward to rejoining the community learning and engagement team and continuing to expand her comfort zone. “I’m very comfortable behind the scenes, so I’m excited—and nervous—to be representing GHF out in Washington communities again.”

Rosa Gimson celebrating with fellow GHF board members.

Rosa, GHF board members, and GHF friends honor board chair Dr. Ben Danielson during the First Citizen award ceremony in 2021.

When asked her advice for people just beginning their professional journeys, Rosa offers encouragement: “Own who you are. When you’re just starting out, you second guess yourself a lot, but I’ve learned that the more you own who you are, the better your work will be and the more tapped into your intuition you will be. Your perspective matters.” She also emphasizes people prioritizing their mental health, as she has learned firsthand how to balance an anxiety disorder with a fast-paced career.

Rosa envisions the next five years at GHF as a time to “plateau in the best way possible,” and to delve even more deeply into the work of racial justice. “We’ve been working so hard to build. My hope is that, now, we’ll really get to dig in.” If the past is any indication of the future, Rosa will surely build something beautiful in her new role and in this next chapter at GHF.