Lisa Davis joined the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health (PORH) in 1994 as its first full-time staff person. After a two-year hiatus, she came back to PORH in 1999 to serve as the director, a position she still holds. She is co-chair of the NOSORH Policy Committee, serves on the Awards Committee and was an inaugural member of the Educational Exchange Committee.

What do you like most about being a SORH director?

Acting as an advocate has always been an important thing for me. Right out of college, I worked in a residential program for schizophrenics and also volunteered for 15 years or so in the county prison. So, trying to address the needs of vulnerable populations is a priority for me. When I came to work for the state office, I met this amazing network of people in the state and across the country. I had never imagined there was a group so smart and so dedicated to what they were¬†doing–and so fun. It was like finding this family that I hadn’t known was out there.

What skills do you think a SORH director needs?

Having a firm understanding of the issues–a good framework about rural populations. Having good interpersonal skills. Having vision for what you think should and could happen. And knowing what you know–and what you don’t know. There are so many tremendous resources out there. At any given time, I have 50 or so people I can call, either in the state or SORHs and other
rural contacts across the country, or others I’ve worked with. And I hope that I am a source of information for new folks coming up through the ranks. But I do have to say that there are many days when I realize that even with all the experience I have, there are others out there who know a lot more than I do. I’m always impressed when I get other peoples’ perspectives on things.

What are your goals for PORH next year?

* To continue to increase our relevance in rural health efforts in Pennsylvania. We are getting mini-grants out to communities, which is one way that we can help provide support for local projects.

* To establish a statewide rural health branding and marketing campaign to highlight why strong rural healthcare delivery systems matter. We’ll be presenting plaques with a logo we’ve had designed, which promotes rural health as high quality health close to home. [See design, below right]. We’ll be holding events at rural hospitals, rural health clinics, and other community-based
providers, presenting the plaques to recognize them as quality rural health providers. This way we can help build awareness that rural health is unique–and special.

* And, to continue to increase and diversify our funding, using ideas from our great Educational Exchange program with Graham Adams this year.