Next up in the Get to Know the ZBC Board series is Lexi Mele-Algus. Lexi got to know Zero Breast Cancer as a pro-bono business consultant through the Taproot Foundation. Once that assignment was completed, Lexi jumped at the opportunity to join our board. In her year and a half as a board member, she has continued to draw upon her expertise in the field of healthcare systems to support and advance the strategic mission of ZBC.
Q: Could you tell me about your day job?
A: I’m Manager of Member Experience at One Medical, which is a primary care medical group with the mission to provide a system of primary care providers offering affordable quality care available and accessible to everyone. It’s done through a mixture of human-centered design, technology and a strong primary care provider team with a focus on longitudinal relationships with their patients. My job is to understand the overall journey for our members, who are the patients, and bring our different teams together to ensure our members are getting the best experience possible when they use our care. I’ve really been focused on the healthcare space in my career. I got my MBA at Northwestern with a focus on healthcare and went straight to work as an internal management consultant with Kaiser. I recently moved over to One Medical.
Q: What motivated you to become a member of the board?
A: I’ve always been very passionate about doing stuff to make an impact both through my work and my personal life. I’ve focused on working in healthcare, but aside from that I wanted to be involved in non-profits. One of the things that I do is work with the Taproot Foundation . This is an organization that helps connect pro-bono consultants with non-profits that have specific projects that they need skilled help for. I joined a pro-bono consulting team in late 2015 and Zero Breast Cancer was my first client for a project that lasted the first half of 2016. At the time, there was a little bit of a shift going on in ZBC, so we were helping the organization continue to evolve and fill its mission through a strategic planning project. I got to understand more about the programming and the work ZBC does. I saw that the team was very strong and truly cared about the mission, so I was excited to help see it through. It was great to get to know Rose (the Executive Director), the board and the team. I got to know a ton about the organization over about a six month period and then after that, Rose approached me about joining the board. I was really excited that she asked me, so we sat down and it all went from there.
Q: What does ZBC mean to you?
A: As I’ve said, I’m passionate about healthcare, but within that I’m really interested in preventive care. While I’ve seen a ton of medical advances in specialty care that excite me as well, what I love about ZBC is that they know and focus on the fact that risk reduction and prevention efforts are one route that people and communities can take proactively. That’s where I see an alignment with my passion and my interest in ZBC because it’s looking at breast cancer in this holistic view and focusing on an area that a lot of non-profits don’t focus on.
Q: How has breast cancer touched you personally?
A: First, I want to acknowledge that I am extremely grateful that neither I nor my immediate family have been diagnosed with breast cancer at this point in our lives. With that being said, I’ve seen a lot of people around me, including extended family and family friends, at different stages of breast cancer either through diagnosis and survivorship or some that unfortunately did not survive from the disease. In that broader sense, the prevalence of breast cancer and the amount of people that breast cancer has touched in their lives is why I absolutely believe in ZBC’s mission.
Q: What is your favorite ZBC memory?
A: I’ve only had the opportunity to attend one Dipsea hike this far, but it was a really amazing experience with the energy and the strength of the group there. It’s also such a beautiful hike, and I love that it’s been going on for so long. While you’re doing the hike for a good cause, you’re also able to connect with others and I had some very amazing conversations throughout the day.
Q: When you talk to friends, family and colleagues about ZBC, what are the three most important things you want them to take away from the conversation?
A: There are a ton of great organizations about breast cancer both historically and now, and Zero Breast Cancer is one of them that has a unique focus on evidence-based modifiable risk factors. The fact that it has a specific focus is really important within the non-profit space. Also, I want them to know that Zero Breast Cancer works to translate the very complicated and complex world of risk reduction and prevention efforts to help communities understand what is most important. ZBC clears the fog out of all of the stuff that’s coming in to make it easy to understand and bring it to people’s lives. Lastly, I’m proud of Zero Breast Cancer’s focus on helping youth, teens and underserved communities as well as survivors.
Q: What are your hopes for the organization?
A: In a time where funding in general is getting hit left and right for scientific endeavors in this political environment, I hope that they’re able to continue to pursue their courageous mission because it’s important. I do believe ZBC has the expertise and tools to do so. I hope that they’re able to continue to reach underserved demographic areas, as I think they’re the key people that we need to support.
Q: How do you support the mission of ZBC?
A: As a board member, I make sure to support ZBC both strategically and financially. I want to see ZBC as impactful as possible, so I support them in any way I can. I’m the secretary and I’m on the executive committee and the finance workgroup. I helped to lead a strategy subgroup to talk about the future of where ZBC should go and to have conversations with strategic partners. I advocate within my networks to either get people to donate or take part in ZBC-sponsored events. In general, I hope to be able to play a part in the future of ZBC.
Q: What is one surprising or fun fact about you that our readers might not know?
A: I really love traveling. I’ve gone to 41 countries, and I’m hoping to continue building on that.
This interview was conducted and written up by Lianna Hartmour, ZBC Education Coordinator.