Interview of Angela Kline, TOLA 2

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Angela Kline, is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. While in graduate school, Angela researched innovative payment system reforms to ensure that Americans receive value in healthcare dollars. Additionally, Angela was Public Policy Fellow at United Way of the Bay Area, where she analyzed inventive pathways for impoverished Bay Area residents to access healthcare. She completed the TOLA Fellowship in the fall of 2011 and currently works at Integrated Healthcare Association (IHA) as a Project Manager.

Q: What inspires you and how do you motivate others?

A: I am inspired by people who never stop learning and never stop laughing. The healthcare industry is constantly morphing and those who refuse to continue learning new methods of accomplishing tasks are outpaced due to stagnation. Moreover, healthcare is a serious industry, considering health is the most important thing in almost every culture, and sometimes the outcomes are not always what we had hoped. My grandmother always said, “Sarcasm is wasted on the youth”. I made her regret that phrase often in her later years, considering I incorporate fun and humor into most tasks.

Q: What’s the most difficult lesson you’ve learned in your work?

A: As Project Manager at IHA as well as my experience at United Way, I have learned the importance of having a “neutral convener,” also know as a mediator, in an industry. All parties have competing priorities and vested interests. A neutral convener can isolate the common interests among industries and develop a common agenda. IHA does this in the health industry and I am proud of the work we do.

Q: What’s the most valuable thing you took away from your experience in TOLA?

A: Make the ask – in grassroots organizing, strangers approach strangers and engage them to consider topics that they should technically already care about, however competing priorities overwhelm everyone’s time. Hence, this simple approach to a stranger asking for a minute of someone’s time to discuss Healthcare for ALL becomes a much larger ask.

Where I grew up, asking for help was shunned upon, so I when I became a TOLA fellow, this ask appeared to me an insurmountable task. By the end of my TOLA tenure, I was asking cancer survivors for donations in order to place a state excise tax on tobacco products. I have further developed this skill in my current workplace, where we implement projects that facilitate quality improvement and accountability efforts for healthcare providers. Although California outperforms most states on quality metrics, IHA asks healthcare providers to focus and improve on certain measures in hopes of providing Californians a higher quality of care.

Q: What impact would you like to have on the world?

A: In my lifetime, I would like to make a major contribution toward ALL Americans being able to receive quality healthcare at an affordable price.