Member Spotlight: Ann Cazaban

Featured TRUST Member

Ann Cazaban


Ann Cazaban

Ann Cazaban is the executive director at Southside Community Health Services (SCHS) in Minneapolis. Her organization has been providing culturally competent primary and preventive health care services to the community for more than 48 years. Ann provides oversight on the day-to-day operations, fundraising and community engagement. Ann has served as executive director for two and a half years; she also served as interim executive director, associate director and manager of special projects at SCHS prior to her current role.

Have you ever had a mentor? How did she help you most?

I did. She guided me through a lot of difficult decisions and a healthy dose of imposter syndrome by helping me recognize the power of my transformational leadership skills.

My mentor met with me monthly and was available by email or phone between face-to-face visits. As a woman who earned her PhD later in life, she demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning and helped me realize that my role was a journey and that as the organization continues to evolve, so will I. She encouraged me to set goals and to celebrate and honor the goals as I met them.

Why did you join the TRUST? What keeps you involved as a TRUST member?
I joined the TRUST to meet new leaders in other sectors of the health care industry and to learn from them.

What is the best career advice you've received? When have you used that advice most?

Don’t be afraid to fail!

When I came into my most recent role, the organization was experiencing a difficult time and rapid change needed to occur to keep the doors open. I rallied my leadership team and let them know that I hired them for their experience and their passion for our mission and that we would adopt a modus operandi of continuous improvement. We are small enough that if we get an idea, we try it. If it’s a good one, we keep it. If it isn’t, we learn from it and move on. We do not stagnate in “doing things the way that they have always been done” because the way that things had been done was destroying the organization! Even our board’s strategic plan measures the number of PDSAs as a marker for innovation. FAIL=first action in learning.

What support do you need now to evolve your development as a leader?

I have been involved with operations in community health centers since 2007 and when I was promoted from COO to Executive Director in 2016, I didn’t hire a replacement. What I need now is to develop professionally is to focus on strategy and leadership, including fundraising, and less on management.

How do you want to support other women in their leadership journey?

I would like to mentor other women, sharing my experiences and knowledge after 12 years in the industry in a variety of roles. I believe that the mentor benefits as much as the mentee.

Who or what inspires you?

Constant searching for understanding, enlightenment and peace.

What is something that not many people know about you?

I am a pretty open book, but not many people know that when I was growing up, I wanted to become a lawyer.

Any words of wisdom to live by?

If it is not right, don’t do it. If it isn’t true, don’t say it. Marcus Aurelius

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Women's Health Leadership TRUST

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