A decades-long career in health care takes grit and determination. What takes even more determination is making lasting changes to reach the underserved in the community.
Tasha Blackmon (MBA ’09) has worked at Cherry Health for 15 years in six different roles. She began as a facility manager in 2005 and climbed quickly from there. Now, she has served as CEO for two years. When Blackmon started, Cherry Health only had one location. It now has 23 and a presence in seven counties in Michigan.
“We are Michigan’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center,” Blackmon said. “We bring health care to 80% of low-income families in Grand Rapids.”
Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) are community-based health services that specifically target underserved areas. Throughout her career, Blackmon has felt called to serve the underserved.
She has the tenacity and drive of a fearless leader and has never let any roadblock stand in her way for long. The day she started her cohort program with Cornerstone University’s Professional & Graduate Studies was the same day she learned she was getting a divorce.
“On the first day of class, our professor asked for private prayer requests,” Blackmon said. “People were praying for me from day one and didn’t even know it was me. To experience that level of spiritual support was a blessing.”
Blackmon graduated summa cum laude in 2010 while also completing a fellowship with the University of Kansas. One month later, she was offered a new position at Cherry Health. During her time as CEO, she has focused a lot of her attention toward chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes. In two years, Cherry Health has improved blood pressure stabilization by 20%—an awe-inspiring statistic, especially considering that a 1% improvement is a huge undertaking.
Cherry Health also launched successful breastfeeding and substance abuse initiatives under Blackmon’s leadership. The organization has increased breastfeeding by 66% in underprivileged communities and increased patients receiving substance abuse care by 53%.
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis in spring 2020, Cherry Health, like many health centers in the country, faced unprecedented challenges. However, they were able to offer testing to low-income families at their health centers as well as crucial medical care for those diagnosed with the virus.
Blackmon owes all of her success to her team. “The true magic behind what we do at Cherry Health is our amazing team,” Blackmon said. “I have been blessed and purposed with the ability to identify raw talent in people. Our team is dedicated to quality, so our patients receive the best care available. We will put our patient outcomes against anyone else’s.”
Tasha Blackmon (MBA ’09) has been CEO of Cherry Health since 2018 and has been with the organization since 2005. Cherry Health is the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Michigan. Blackmon lives in West Michigan with her husband and six children.