Seattle Children’s welcomes Francesca Vega as its new vice president of External Affairs to lead the organization’s community and government relations work.
Vega joined Seattle Children’s on Feb. 27 and brings extensive expertise in advocacy and building coalitions and relationships with governments and community groups.
On the Pulse sat down with Vega to share more about her past experiences and upcoming plans to get to know Seattle Children’s and the community.
What excites you about joining Seattle Children’s?
Vega: I’m excited to be a sponge and learn about this organization — there’s a lot of diversity in the communities we serve and the external partners we collaborate with in our Washington, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho (WAMI) region. It’s interesting and dynamic.
How do you plan to get to know the workforce and organizational needs?
Vega: I think a big part of getting acquainted with a new organization includes listening — that means talking with people in different roles, from senior-level leaders to frontline colleagues. I’ve thought about what these first 90 days will look like, and I believe a lot of this time will involve sitting down with people and hearing about our challenges and strengths as an organization, asking how they’re feeling, and finding out what Seattle Children’s network and reach looks like.
How does external affairs work support Seattle Children’s health equity efforts?
Vega: Seattle Children’s is an anchor institution in the community. Our team will continue to think through how we marry elements of being an anchor institution with work related to community investment, procurement, diverse spending, building a workforce pipeline, etc., in a way that honors the challenges of the past, and looks forward to how we engage communities of color and those who — due to socioeconomics — have had their voice stifled.
What led you to work in external affairs?
Vega: I started my career working in public policy in the California state legislature. Access to public education is something I feel strongly about, so when an opportunity to work in government relations at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) presented itself, I was thrilled. Most recently, I led the University of California San Francisco’s (UCSF) community and government relations and advocacy strategies. I really enjoy thinking about how an institution that’s an anchor in the region, like Seattle Children’s, can make an impact in the community, beyond the hospital walls.
What advice would you offer others interested in growing as leaders?
Vega: It sounds cliché, but I encourage people to find work or causes they are passionate about. At least for me, if my core values aren’t represented in my work in some way, then it’s hard to be successful. I think all the other factors that help make a career or job worth your while kind of dwindle in comparison to finding your sense of passion and purpose.
Can you share a bit about your background?
Vega: I’m from Yuba City, a small, rural, agricultural town in northern California with a large Latino population. Growing up, I quickly learned that not everyone has the same access to quality education. My sisters and I were the first in our family to attend and graduate from college. Growing up where I did and knowing peoples’ challenges has motivated me throughout my career to be a champion and advocate for others.
What are you looking forward to about living in Seattle?
Vega: I really started to focus on my wellness in the last few years as my professional responsibilities have grown. I love being outdoors and near the water. I’m also a major foodie, so I’m excited to check out the food scene in Seattle and find my new favorite restaurants. I’m also hoping to explore the larger Pacific Northwest region, and visiting Oregon, Canada and Montana. It’s a whole new frontier, which will be a lot of fun.