Unitus’ Gayle Evans Brings Credit Union Voice to Oregon Leadership Summit

At the 2015 Oregon Leadership Summit in December, business leaders from around the state came together to discuss and plan a strategic direction for Oregon, focused on creating jobs and raising incomes.

They have some lofty goals:

  • 25,000 net new jobs — in every corner of Oregon — per year through 2020
  • Per capita income above the national average by 2020
  • Reduction of poverty to below 10% by 2020

The summit also focuses on issues facing businesses in Oregon, such as health care. And that is where one credit union leader has taken on a big role: Gayle Evans, Unitus Community Credit Union’s VP of Human Resources.

Before joining Unitus in 2007, Evans had already built a long resume in health care and insurance, with human resources positions at Standard Insurance and Salem Health. Because of this wealth of experience with health care on the inside and as a private purchaser, Evans has taken on a variety of volunteer positions. She serves as chair of the Oregon Business Association’s Health Policy Committee and has been appointed by the governor to hold multi-year positions as a member of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission’s Board of Directors and Advocate for Patient Safety on the Task Force for Resolution of Adverse Health Care Incidents.

The Oregon Business Association role is what has brought her to the Oregon Leadership Summit for the past few years. “I love attending the summit,” Evans says. “With all of the breakout sessions, you can really dive into topics that are important to you and to your organization.”

This year, though, Evans was on a panel discussing the future of health care in Oregon. Other participants on the panel included:

  • Greg Van Pelt, President, Oregon Health Leadership Council
  • George Brown, President & CEO, Legacy Health System
  • Jeremy Vandehey, Health Policy Advisor, Office of Governor Brown
  • Chip Terhune, Vice President, Government Affairs, Cambia Health Solutions

Evans and the panel discussed how health care transformation is working in Oregon and what the state needs to do to keep costs down and health outcomes improving. “We’ve made a lot of headway in terms of getting more people insured,” said Evans. This metric lowers overall costs because fewer people rely solely on high-cost emergency room visits for their health care needs. Moving forward, Evans continued, “Public health and social determinants of health, like education and poverty, impact the health of Oregonians more so than a single employer’s wellness plan. So we all agreed that if the state could do more to support education and health parity and other drivers of the cost of care, we could really make a difference.”

Going forward, says Evans, she’d like to see more of her credit union peers in business leadership roles throughout the state. “Credit unions are a big part of the business community, and it is imperative that we get involved.” There are a lot of like-minded employers in Oregon that care about their employees as much as credit unions do, she continued, and it’s great to be out there supporting them and sharing knowledge.

To other credit union leaders who want to be a bigger part of their local business communities, Evans has this to say: “Reach out and offer to be involved. Don’t hold yourself back because you don’t think you’re an expert on something. You can learn as you go, and that level of commitment and involvement is appreciated.”

Questions about this story? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225, lheider@nwcua.org.

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