Q&A with board President Kate Healy

January 27, 2021

Konbit Sante board President Kate Healy has spent decades working to support and advance health care for people in the U.S. and internationally. She is a leader, an advisor, a mentor, and a trusted colleague with a deep knowledge of the laws that apply to the healthcare industry.

Kate served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia immediately upon receiving a Bachelor’s degree in classics from the University of Notre Dame, and served as a Peace Corps project director before pursuing her law degree from Notre Dame Law School. As a partner in the Health Care & Life Sciences Group for the New England law firm Verrill LLP, she represents nonprofit academic medical centers and hospitals, medical practices, federally qualified health centers, and other healthcare providers on a wide range of transactional and regulatory matters.

Kate joined Konbit Sante’s board of directors in 2014, and has also served on our governance committee and the Maine Walks with Haiti planning committee. She assumed the role of board president in October 2020 from outgoing President Bob MacKinnon.

“I know for many boards, being president is largely a ceremonial post, but I can assure you that is not the case with Konbit Sante. As president, most of your work is behind the scenes, and it is an integral part of the leadership of this organization,” MacKinnon said. “Kate has the rare ability to consider all the aspects of an issue and work quickly and collaboratively to develop an effective solution. In such a small organization, this is a critical need.”

Kate recently shared her thoughts about her role, her work in domestic and global health, and Konbit Sante’s successes and challenges.

Q: How did you learn of Konbit Sante, and what made you decide to become involved with the organization?
A: A number of friends and colleagues who knew of my background as a Peace Corps volunteer and project director in Micronesia and my career as a healthcare lawyer kept pointing me to Konbit Sante. When an opportunity to get involved with the organization came up, I took it.

Q: At Verrill LLP, your practice focuses on advising healthcare organizations on transactions and regulatory compliance matters. In what capacity has this helped you, and in turn Konbit Sante, as you have served the organization?
A: Both my Peace Corps and professional experiences have given me a respect for healthcare providers and taught me the value of health care. I have also learned of the far-reaching effects of disparities in health care. I hope my analytical skills and ability to work with a variety of stakeholders to chart a path through challenges will serve Konbit Sante well.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing Konbit Sante in regard to its mission to strengthen capacity for a stronger health system in the Greater Cap-Haitien area of Haiti?
A: As a small nonprofit organization based in Maine, fundraising is always a challenge given the level of need that exits in Cap-Haitien, the sister city to Portland, Maine. In addition, systemic change is a slow and painstaking process. Although Konbit Sante has an outsized effect in Northern Haiti because of the strength of its programs and talented staff, the need always seems to outstrip our resources. On top of that, the recent inflation of the gourde [Haiti’s official currency] has presented a real budgeting challenge for Konbit Sante and an economic crisis for Haitians.

Q: In your time at Konbit Sante, what accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: I’ve seen Konbit Sante mature over the years as a result of [strategic advisor and former executive director] Nate Nickerson’s leadership of the organization and, most recently, Bob MacKinnon’s leadership of the board. I am mindful of the deep talent and diverse skills of the organization’s staff, volunteers, and board, and feel fortunate to work with them to advance Konbit Sante’s mission.

I am most proud of the organization’s ability to meet its challenges and evolve over time into a stronger, more effective organization. I hope to have a small role in growing a stronger, more sustainable organization to continue Konbit Sante’s work of advancing health care in Northern Haiti.

Q: What are your goals as president of the Konbit Sante board of directors in general, and for 2021 specifically?
A: To build upon the work of many others, assist with the current transition in the organization’s leadership, and strengthen the organization’s programs so that the work of Konbit Sante continues to improve healthcare quality in Northern Haiti, especially for women and children.

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