Back in the late 90s, Christy Calhoun and her co-worker headed back to her apartment for a quiet dinner after a long day of working in a community-based public-health organization in Guatemala City. In the cool night air, the two women walked and talked about what was needed to improve the lives of the women and children in Guatemala.
Calhoun remembers: “The problem wasn’t just about helping people get access to medical care, it was also about figuring how to share basic health information so that women could care for themselves and their families.”
Today, as Calhoun expertly moves through her day, she remembers that day and thinks of her friend and the other women she worked with for six years in Guatemala. All her experiences working in third-world countries have added to the endless energy, commitment, and enthusiasm for the work she does at Healthwise.
At Healthwise, a health information technology and patient education nonprofit organization, Calhoun leads a team of more than 70 people who create patient education that’s medically accurate, understandable and visually appealing.
“Sharing the patients’ and the providers’ experiences is how we can build empathy into our content and efficiencies into our technology,” she says. But it’s also important to remember that as the writer, software engineer or video producer, “at some point, each of us has been the patient, the care taker, and the concerned friend in a health care situation.”
Aligned personal and professional goals allow Calhoun to face today’s health care challenges, collaborate with multidisciplinary teams across an organization, and volunteer her time locally and globally.
Calhoun’s keen eye recognizes and honors the potential in others. Throughout her career, she has created leadership opportunities for others. She encourages women to take a seat at the table, supporting and providing them with paths and stretch assignments to fulfill their talent.
Two years ago, on the recommendation of a co-worker, Calhoun began volunteering with Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery (CLIMB) at the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Hospital. She now co-facilitates their weekly support groups to help children cope when someone they love has cancer.
“Listening to children tell their stories puts your own in to perspective,” Calhoun explains. “The act of listening is a healing gift that goes both ways. I always leave the group feeling whole and tuned into my soul’s purpose.”