After graduating from high school in the seventies, Jan Malcolm aspired to become a physician. She enrolled in the newly co-ed Dartmouth College only the second year after the school began admitting women. Malcolm chose Dartmouth for its very rich history in both premed and physician programs. She started her studies of psychology and philosophy during a time of social, economic, and political changes. It was a turbulent time, but it was an exciting time that made an everlasting impression that shaped progressive leaders.
Toward the end of her undergraduate studies, she seized the opportunity for premed students to attend courses at the medical school. She studied public health and health-care economics. After graduating with honors and receiving a liberal arts degree, she accepted a job at a health policy “think tank” called InterStudy, which was headed by Dr. Paul Ellwood who had formerly been the executive director of the Sister Kenny Institute. She intended to work a year or so, then apply to medical school. The field of healthcare policy was maturing and she was on the frontlines. In the growing field of managed care, there were no formal courses to prepare workers—just on-the-job training. Soon, she was one of the few recognized managed-care professionals and a budding health-care policy leader.
She worked her way to become the senior vice president of government programs and public policy at Health Partners, and then the system vice president for public affairs at Allina. During these years, she joined the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Courage Center and United Way.
Later, newly-elected Governor Ventura requested she serve as Commissioner of Health for the State of Minnesota. For the next four years, she was responsible for directing the state’s lead public health agency, the Minnesota Department of Health. In this role, she oversaw the protection, maintenance, and improvement of health for all Minnesotans through programs in disease prevention and control, health promotion, community public health, environmental health, maternal and child health, bioterrorism, emergency preparedness, health care policy, and regulation of healthcare providers. She led a staff of 1,200 and oversaw an annual budget of approximately $400 million.
As Commissioner, Malcolm co-chaired the cabinet-level Health Policy Council and chaired the Governor’s Joint Task Force on Health Care Costs and Quality. She served on the executive committee of the National Association of State and Territorial Health Officers. She was active in the National Academy of State Health Policy and was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s committee on enhancing the federal government’s role in health care quality improvement.
After her tenure as Commissioner, she joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a senior program officer providing counsel on public health initiatives. The Foundation is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health of all Americans by working with, and providing funding for, numerous organizations and individuals engaged in various public health projects.
Early this year, Malcolm was chosen as the new Chief Executive Officer of Courage Center. She brings a wealth of healthcare policy and stakeholder relations experience to, not only Courage Center, but our local disability community as well. Her previous work provided her a very broad overview of overall healthcare policies, programs, and trends.
She will be moving closer to the “front lines” of healthcare delivery, particularly those products, services, and programs empowering individuals experiencing the effects of disability and aging as they reach for their full potential in every aspect of life. Malcolm said, “We are guided by the vision that one day, all people will live, work, learn and play in a community based on abilities not disabilities.” More importantly, she will have the opportunity to share and provide insight while working with Courage Center’s Executive Management Team to evolve and implement its strategic direction and business model, which are her strengths. During the next few years, the Center will continue stepping up to the challenge to expand services and further define itself within the health-care arena in the face of rising healthcare costs and tighter personal, public, and corporate financial resources.