Bruce Trachtenberg stepped down as executive director of the Communications Network on December 31. For the next few months, as the Network searches for his successor, he will serve as an advisor, assisting the board on ongoing programs and activities. In this interview, conducted by regular contributor Paul VanDeCarr, Bruce shares some thoughts about his seven and a half years at the Network.
What is one aspect of your personal life that has the greatest impact on your professional life, including your time at the Network?
My Dad, who died last April, was a master storyteller. He taught me to love great stories and to want to tell stories too—though I’ll never be able to tell stories, especially the funny ones—as well as he did. Instead, I just tell the stories he told me over and over again. Here’s one he loved to tell about himself:
Guest Post: Suzanne Samuel
When Kaiser Permanente Northern California created its In-Kind Communications Program, the intention was clear. By providing communications consulting, communications products (like videos, brochures, and websites) and capacity-building training to our grantees from within our own offices, we would contribute to the success and long-term stability of our grantees. The pleasant surprise was how the In-Kind Program improved our own communications practice, often in striking ways.
A More Strategic Approach
Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Program is a direct extension of our organization’s 65-year-old mission: to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Because we are both a health plan and a care provider, we are able to go beyond traditional corporate philanthropy to pair grant funding with shared expertise: medical research, clinical best practices—and communications products and consulting.
For many years we had offered communications support to a handful of Northern California community organizations each year, using an ad hoc approach. Grantees would inquire about Kaiser Permanente’s ability to provide a specific product (like a brochure or video), and the requests were handled on a case-by-case basis.