Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Deneen Richmond, 40
Executive Director, Delmarva Foundation
Deneen Richmond's mother never did make it to the hospital in time. Whyethia Johnson Knight was supposed to deliver at George Washington University Hospital; but just outside the doors of the Washington facility, while Knight was still in the car, Richmond was born.
Although Richmond wasn't born in one, hospitals were to become a big part of her professional life. Today the 40-year-old is executive director of the Delmarva Foundation in the District of Columbia, which works to improve care for the district's residents, especially those in low-income areas where access has long been a problem.
For the lifelong Washingtonian, the decision to make a career in healthcare was made in high school at an age when most teens haven't figured out what to wear to the prom much less what to do with their lives.
"My personality and my values have always been that I wanted to get into a helping profession," she says. So she enrolled at the University of the District of Columbia after high school and earned a nursing degree in 1986. Afterward, while working as a registered nurse at George Washington, she went back to school and received a master's degree in health administration from GWU in 1992.
In 1996, she landed at the National Committee for Quality Assurance as a senior healthcare analyst. A year later, she became its director of policy, leading a staff that provided assistance to health plans in implementing and interpreting HEDIS performance measures. In 1999, Richmond became the assistant vice president of policy at the NCQA where she oversaw all policy issues for its accreditation programs and the performance-measurement set.
While at the NCQA, she says, she learned valuable lessons watching President Margaret O'Kane. As a woman executive, O'Kane stressed to her the need to balance her professional life with her family life, says Richmond, a wife and a mother of two sons. She says O'Kane also taught her about commitment to her work and having the determination to work through obstacles.
"I learned the importance of forming partnerships instead of all of us out there competing with each other," she says.
Last year, Richmond joined Delmarva where she is involved in several quality-of-care initiatives in Washington.
In his letter nominating Richmond as an Up & Comer, Maulik Joshi, president and chief executive officer of Delmarva, said, "She is the very definition of a leader-poised, bright, energetic, creative, selfless, team-oriented ... (and) has been undeterred by the unique challenges posed by the healthcare arena in an urban setting such as the District."
While Richmond says there remains much to be improved and achieved in healthcare, she refuses to be downcast. "I'm a glass-half-full type of person," Richmond says. "Instead of losing hope, I try to focus on opportunities."