COVID-19 exposed many of the underlying inequities in the health and health care industry. That reality is one Nikki Highsmith Vernick is striving to change as president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation, the largest independent health philanthropy in Maryland.
The organization, which works to dismantle the policies that discriminate against people of color, boasts diverse board members –– 50% are people of color and 55% are women ––and staff members are 90% female.
“We are listening to our community and building trust-based relationships,” Vernick says. “We are letting them tell us what is important, how they want to use their voice and how they want to solve problems. We celebrate our internal and external work and recognize the continued journey ahead.”
Along with improving mental health services through innovative initiatives, collaborative partnerships and grant making, Horizon aims to address high rates of chronic diseases. Vernick credits her “compassionate, smart and committed” with her personal and organizational success across Howard County and the region.
“Our mission is focused on improving health for our community and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to live along, healthy life,” Vernick said.
“We are listening to our community and building trust-based relationships. We are letting them tell us what is important, how they want to use their voice and how they want to solve problems.”
– Nikki Highsmith Vernick