What's Your Why | A Conversation with Kate Henderson, Regional Hospital President, Ascension Texas

The ‘What’s Your Why' series spotlights DivInc’s corporate and community partners and focuses on the motivation behind their desire to work with us, as well as, the goals we both aim to achieve. DivInc is all about telling our community’s stories, and our partners are a critical part of our team. We hope this series gives you some insight into the people and perspective behind the logo.

Ascension Seton joined the DivInc partner team in 2021 as the title sponsor for our Spring 2022 Social Justice Innovation Accelerator.

How did this collaboration come about?

I had heard about DivInc in the news and was interested in the work they are doing, particularly with underserved founders and young innovators, who are tackling issues related to social justice but also healthcare and transportation. As I was researching new strategic alliances for Ascension Texas, I reached out to DivInc and found that our mission, vision and values were very similar. Both DivInc and Ascension Texas believe strongly in the need for social justice and want to support innovation. It was a great fit. 

What made you want to work with DivInc specifically?

There are, of course, other accelerator programs in Austin, but what stood out about DivInc is their focus on underserved founders and social justice innovation. We also liked that they gave us the opportunity to help in the selection process of companies for the accelerator cohort. It felt important for us to contribute to the conversation, but also to be able to learn from these newly formed companies and the problems they’re seeking to solve. We like to study and understand the communities in which we serve, and to see things through the unique lens of these startup founders is a privilege to us. Ascension Texas is also interested in the innovation process -- we are tasked to meet the complex needs of underserved communities, both from a healthcare and a community partnership perspective, and feel there is much to learn from these technology startups. We are also excited to help with DivInc’s programming -- it’s an opportunity to talk about the work we do at Ascension Texas, but it also fulfills our mission of being advocates for a compassionate and just society. 

"DivInc and Ascension Texas believe strongly in the need for social justice and want to support innovation." - Kate Henderson

How has Ascension Texas championed equity in the past?

Ascension Texas is definitely involved in creating equity from a healthcare perspective. We have a number of programs aimed specifically at providing healthcare to uninsured, underserved populations, and even our mission has a special focus on helping the poor and vulnerable. We also launched an ABIDE (Appreciation, Belongingness, Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity) framework, which seeks to address systemic injustice. We see ABIDE as a renewal of our commitment to equity -- in light of the injustices happening, we needed to recommit to this purpose and keep an ongoing conversation about it. 

For Ascension Texas, what is the equity issue that should be a focus for us all and why?

We see healthcare as an equity issue. Inequalities – whether in education, housing or mobility – are inextricably linked to access to healthcare, opportunity and quality of life. Creating equity in healthcare benefits everyone, and achieving optimal health is certainly a worthy goal.  

How do you think that issue could be addressed by the work we at DivInc do in cooperation with companies like Ascension?

In this relationship, we both have something to contribute -- Ascension Texas brings a healthcare delivery and community partnership expertise, while DivInc gives young innovators access and support to build new solutions to social problems. We can contribute to the conversation as well as learn from these startup founders. We look forward to mentoring, connecting and coaching these new founders, while also learning from their insight on problem solving. It’s a great collaborative relationship. 

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