Karen Johnson’s Parting Message

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Karen Johnson’s Parting Message

I am writing this message as I wind down my time at the Alliance in anticipation of taking on a new opportunity and returning to Kansas City, the place I called home for more than 30 years before joining the Alliance. As I reflect on what has been a shorter than expected, but very important chapter in my life, I wanted to express my appreciation to my valued Alliance colleagues and friends.

I opened this chapter anticipating an adventure that would allow me to expand my horizons – professionally and personally. Professionally, it allowed me to work for an organization that exemplifies the kind of collaborative and change-seeking health care work that I believe can only happen when key stakeholders come together and press forward. Personally, it allowed me to embark on an urban adventure and live near a sibling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest which I had fallen in love with over 30 years of traveling here to visit my sister and her family.

The last year and a half have been packed with adventure (for sure!) and many successes along the way. The work we pushed forward together is remarkable, including the opportunities that lie ahead to advance the Alliance purchasers’ priorities for action, to amplify the voices of our physician leaders as we continue to struggle through the persistent COVID-19 pandemic that exposes important issues of health equity and broken infrastructure, or to address intractable health care challenges like those tackled by the Low-Back Pain Implementation Collaborative the Alliance will be convening over the next two years.

When I first contemplated this adventure in January 2020, we were hearing the words “novel coronavirus” for the first time while still catching planes and running in and out of restaurants and stores thinking “I better be sure to wash my hands or use hand sanitizer” but that was about it! As we know, things changed quickly in the early days of March 2020. As March 16th approached (my first day with the Alliance), it became clear I would not be moving into my downtown high-rise apartment and walking to work as planned. Just like many of you, I was scrambling to convert my guest bedroom in Kansas City into an office which is where I spent my first four months with the Alliance before eventually making my way to the PNW in the summer of 2020.

As I close this chapter, I am filled with gratitude for the people I have met and the work I have been a part of during my time here. The ability to form meaningful connections through a computer screen was something I never imagined as part of this adventure! We faced challenges and enjoyed many successes together – in spite of the fact I still have not met most of you in person!

I am filled with optimism for what can be accomplished and look forward to continuing to work with many of you in my next chapter leading the Division of Practice Advancement at the American Academy of Family Physicians. The new team I have the good fortune of working with is focused on strengthening primary care with payment innovation and supporting family physicians in career and practice advancement. I look forward to continuing to support the many related efforts underway in Washington state from this new perspective!

Please feel free to stay in touch!

All my best,


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