Q&A with Kate Fagan Taylor, Executive Director of the HDC

By Health Data CoalitionNews

In this Q&A with HDC, Kate discusses her new role as Executive Director and how HDC can help advance continuous quality improvement.

About Kate Fagan Taylor

Kate’s background includes leadership in not-for-profit sector leadership, post-secondary administration, and public service in the BC provincial government. Most recently, she provided leadership for corporate governance and policy across the BC public sector as Executive Director of the Crown Agencies Resource Office at the BC Ministry of Finance. Before that, she led executive talent management and development for the BC Public Service Agency, and led strategic projects at the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education.

Before joining the BC Government, Kate served as Assistant University Secretary at the University of Victoria, responsible for governance and policy for the university. Previously, Kate spent seven years as University Chaplain, shortly after achieving her Masters of Divinity from the University of Notre Dame. Kate’s experience in not-for-profit organizations include serving the Executive Director of the Queenswood Society, a social venture with a focus on supporting wellness for caregivers.

What attracted you to the HDC?

This position will be a creative opportunity, and I will enjoy the entrepreneurial leadership required. I appreciate the grass-roots nature of this enterprise, and the passion and vision of service expressed by its board. I also feel drawn to the meaningful opportunity it represents to support learning, and have a real impact on patient outcomes.

How do you think your experience will help advance the work of HDC In BC and eventually across Canada?

To be successful, the HDC will need to continue to bridge and form relationships among many people and different types of organizations. In my career, I’ve learned to adapt and understand perspectives from different contexts, which will equip me to translate the value of the HDC solution into a business case that appeals to all our current and future partners.

I spent the first 10 years of my career in post-secondary leadership and adult learning, and so I recognize the HDC solution’s tremendous potential for creating learning opportunities and research partnerships in order to support physicians and improve patient outcomes.

My leadership experiences in the BC Ministries of Advanced Education, Finance, and Health all required a focus on ensuring that service delivery, programming, policies and strategic directions are linked to government policies and strategic plans. My most recent leadership in the Ministry of Finance gave me a view into best practices for effective reporting and metrics. This background will be useful, as I can help HDC demonstrate its ongoing success in a way that translates effectively in government contexts.

I’ve also had previous experiences of the dynamics between the health system and government, which will be useful in this role. My strategic leadership at the Ministry of Health in 2011-2012 included service as the secretariat at the Health Authority CEO meetings with the Deputy Minister, and also leading a health data project in the division of Population and Public Health at the Ministry of Health. These experiences and relationships will help inform my new role as HDC’s first Executive Director.

You’ve had a most interesting career path. Can you tell us a bit about your strengths and skills?

My graduate training in counselling, public speaking, group facilitation, and organizational development has been useful throughout my career. My facilitation of reflection and learning has been further informed by recent experience leading the BC Public Service’s executive development services, with a focus on using coaching support and small learning groups. I think these skills will be helpful as we continue to expand our collaborative partnerships.

My career reflects that skills in envisioning a future state and mapping paths of change are useful across many contexts. Being adaptable has allowed me to experience and enjoy getting to know people across a variety of workplace cultures and organizations. My values include the commitment to listen, understand and respect the perspectives of others; this approach supports my ability to adapt effectively to new contexts and challenges.

My governance expertise will be useful to the HDC Board during the transition from set-up to operations, and in establishing the HDC solution throughout the province. I understand the dynamics of reporting to a board, and know how important it is to take a principled and collaborative approach to leading strategic planning, operational and program leadership, stakeholder relations and communications. It will be exciting to help the board determine the best governance approach for the organization.

As Executive Director of HDC, these qualities will help me to understand the data-related challenges and opportunities for physicians, articulate and promote the ways in which the HDC solution supports their work and the health of their patients, and create system change by encouraging adoption of the network.

What’s the key to success for you at HDC?

The success of this kind of venture relies on relationships with others who share common values and goals. Building on the HDC’s foundation of relationships and expanding it to involve participation from physicians across BC, and eventually across Canada, will be essential.

It’s the physicians themselves who will show us the ways that the HDC can best support them, so that HDC can be an expression of their collective experience and knowledge, an inspiration and resource for reflection and learning, and a catalyst for system change.

To be successful, the HDC will explore more opportunities to partner and share resources and research across government and post-secondary organizations. I think that leaders across government, post-secondary, and the BC public sector are asking similar questions and seeing new opportunities related to information technology. A key to success for me will be to help the HDC be recognized as a leading organization which uses data to serve physicians and patients, rather than the other way around.