Tuesday, October 20

Words of Appreciation: A Community Expresses Gratitude to Peggy Anderson

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by Ken Schneck, Editor

There are very few constants in the world of healthcare, particularly when the focus is on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. With regular changes to regulations, protocols, and funding sources, the only reliable narrative thread in this critical work is the care, compassion, and dedication of the individuals who work tirelessly to make sure that services are delivered in a way that uplifts and sustains our LGBTQ+ community.

For more than two decades, Peggy Anderson has been one such individual here in Ohio.

Anderson’s storied tenure as Chief Operating Officer at Equitas Health dates back to 1996 when she was a social work graduate intern at the Columbus AIDS Task Force (CATF), soon becoming their first Rural Case Manager. Eventually, she stepped into the senior leadership role at CATF during a time when finances were so tough that Anderson had to put $2400 on her personal credit card to restore desperately needed phone service. The current reality is a far cry from those threadbare days, with Equitas Health—the ultimate merger of CATF and AIDS Resource Center Ohio—employing over 450 staff across multiple cities, four health centers, and a budget of over $100 million. So much of that remarkable and life-saving progress can be directly attributed to Anderson.

Anderson recently announced that she would be leaving Equitas Health to take the helm at Third Street Family Health Services in Mansfield, a private, non-profit health center providing care to underserved populations. To get a more full picture of her contributions, we asked community leaders from across the state to provide a few words of appreciation for Anderson’s decades of service to LGBTQ+ Ohio.

Peggy Anderson has dedicated a majority of her adult life to the wellbeing of people living with HIV, LGBTQ+ communities, and those suffering from addiction. I’ve known her for over a decade and have learned so much from her. She has one of the most brilliant business minds that I know and has trail-blazed a blueprint for corporate advocacy in this city that many follow. She does so much that so many don’t even see. I’ve watched her successfully push against antiquation daily, and in many cases where I didn’t think progress was possible. So much of the innovation and the progress at Equitas Health has been because she wouldn’t take no for answer, and believes in putting people first at a level I’ve never seen before in a nonprofit executive. Working under her as the COO of Equitas Health has been a dream job I always thought was just outside my reach, but she saw me and my possibility and for that I will always be grateful.  –Dwayne Steward, Director of Prevention, Equitas Health

Peggy Anderson is an incredible advocate, and her wisdom, grace, and endurance in the face of stiff opposition in advancing LGBTQ equality will be sincerely missed. Congratulations on your next adventure, Peggy; you leave very large shoes to fill!.  –Alana Jochum, Executive Director, Equality Ohio

As a board member of Equitas Health, I know for certain it would have been impossible for our organization to have grown as exponentially as EH has in a few short years without Peggy’s leadership, guidance, and commitment to the cause of ensuring compassionate healthcare for all communities in need. Because of her leadership and ingenuity, she has transformed our organization into more than a non-profit, but rather a social enterprise that generates revenue in excess of $80M- enduring ample funding to care for the uninsured and underinsured. Her abilities to be both an unparalleled visionary for a large organization, and also an efficient and tactical executor is a dual gift very few possess. And what sets her ever further apart from similarly situated senior executives is that she also makes time to be visible and present in the community- interacting with, and listening to, community members who often go unheard, and advocating for their needs. Her departure from Equitas Health will be deeply felt for quite some time, but I’m beyond excited to see the impact she has in her new role.  –James Ferguson II, Vice President, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Board Member, Equitas Health

I admire Peggy most for the fact that she has worked at every level there is in this field. From starting out as a Social Work intern to leaving as the COO, she has paid her dues and has continued to advocate for front line staff along the way. She will be missed and leave at least 4 pairs of shoes to be filled! –Julia Applegate, Director, Equitas Health Institute

I remember coming to Columbus in 2008 and being introduced to other Central Ohio leaders in LGBTQ spaces.  Peggy Anderson was always so down to earth and easy to work with.  When I attended events alone, I could always count on joining Peggy’s table and being welcomed. –Kim Welter, KLW Consulting LLC

“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” -Dolly Parton  Brandon C.Chapman, Columbus Public Health

Peggy was one of those colleagues whose absence you noticed and whose presence made the office a happier place. She’s a true servant leader who never lost sight of the Columbus AIDS Task Force’s original mission. She put clients and community ahead of donors and political turf. We’re lucky she dedicated so much of her career to helping LGBTQ people.  –Bob Vitale, writer/editor

I have known Peggy for more than 2 decades and her biggest strength has always been keeping the needs of those she serves at the forefront. She has humanized the role of COO, and it has served the agency, our clients and our communities extraordinarily. We will miss her. –Jose Rodriguez, Director of Community Relations, Equitas Health

Peggy is the BEST! She is a wonderful organizational leader, critical ally and innovative boundary spanner, key community partner, and friend. We’ve had some challenging issues over the past 25 years… all of us, and having Peggy Anderson as a trusted partner has meant much to me and to improved Public Health and community well-being in Columbus and throughout Ohio.  I wish her every success!  –Teresa Long MD MPH, Special Advisor / Associate Professor-OSU College of Public Health, Columbus Health Commissioner (Retired)

Peggy has been a valued accomplice to the LGBTQ community in Central Ohio. The compassion she brought to her work as a community advocate was matched with equal vigor in the strength of talent she helped lead Equitas Health with for years; truly the organization, and our community, would not have as many positive outcomes if it were not for Peggy.  -Densil R. Porteous, Interim Executive Director, Stonewall Columbus, Former Vice Chair of the Board, Equitas Health

Peggy Anderson has been on the front lines of HIV / AIDS Care in Central Ohio for a long time – her leadership and passion have saved lives.  Her commitment to healthcare access for all is unmatched – we have been fortunate to have had her all this time.  The people of Mansfield are getting a good one.  My advice to them is to listen to her – she knows her stuff.  Good Luck Peggy – we will miss you!  –Chris Cozad, Columbus Community Relations Commission

Peggy has been showing up for our Central Ohio LGBTQ community for over two decades.  She kept Columbus AIDS Task Force together helping to make payroll during a very critical time.  She has literally saved lives and we owe her a debt of gratitude. –-Tom Grote, Co-founder of Equality Ohio, Chief Advisor at Edge Innovation Hub, Founder of Seven Minutes of Sunshine  
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