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Joe Lee

Community Health Center Network
Workforce Development Strategist


Q & A 

As a current student, can you talk about the journey you took to get here? What were some points of entry or "a-ha" moments in your life that made you want to pursue more schooling? Where do you see yourself post graduation?

I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in Healthcare Administration & Interprofessional Leadership at the University of California, San Francisco. This is a one-year executive program for full-time working healthcare professionals. My reason for pursuing this degree is inspired by my professional experience at LifeLong Medical Care, a Federally Qualified Health Center in the East Bay. I was responsible for leading and coaching six cohorts of 12-16 full-time AmeriCorps Members for six years. Additionally, I worked closely with an interprofessional team of clinicians and administrators (e.g. Primary Care/Mental Health Providers, Community Health Workers, Medical Assistants, Clinic Directors, Senior Executives) on various healthcare initiatives. During this time, I had the privilege of working directly with our underserved patients, and developing meaningful relationships in the community. Collectively, these experiences have shaped my passion and commitment to continue working for underserved populations in my career.

My leadership and career goals include becoming a director focused on workforce strategy and partnership development, as well as an Adjunct Professor for a local community college campus to mentor underrepresented minority students. Within the next 10 years, I hope to serve as the first Korean American Chief Executive Officer for a Federally Qualified Health Center in the Bay Area.


Did you participate in a pipeline or leadership programs that you found helpful in moving ahead in the field? Any professors, mentors, or leaders you leaned on to help in your success?

I participated in the California Primary Care Association’s HealthManagement+, a statewide one-year management training program that focused on change management and strategic planning. This program gave me concrete tools to succeed in a professional healthcare setting and develop humility in my everyday leadership practice. My mentors include Professors Laura Nathan and Robin Flagg from the University of California, Berkeley; CEOs Marty Lynch (LifeLong Medical Care) and Ralph Silber (Alameda Health Consortium/Community Health Center Network); and Deputy Director Lucinda Bazile (LifeLong Medical Care). I strongly believe in learning from mentors who are genuinely invested in your future.


As someone who might worry about finances to continue education, can you speak to scholarships, work study, loans, or additional options you took on to make grad school a reality?

I had the privilege of being well-supported by my immigrant family to finance my undergraduate education. I worked as a full-time professional for eight years to save money for my graduate tuition. For someone who might worry about finances, I encourage them to explore loan repayment and scholarship opportunities through the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) and California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development (OSHPD). 


What is one piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in continuing their education in primary care? 

I advise my students and mentees to be lifelong learners. It took me 12 years to decide on a graduate program that aligned with my personal values and professional goals. During this time, I experienced many successes and failures in my education and professional career. I believe this was an important process to explore interests and build confidence. Easy strategies that someone can adopt to further explore their interests include networking, informational interviewing, and seeking mentorship.