“It’s been a wonderful evolution of being able to do many different things,” said Tsumba in a recent conversation about transitioning to the new position.
“My previous role was focused externally, and my new one involves human resources and financial management. I am excited about finding new ways to release the passion of our talent so that we can unleash the full potential of the Primary Care Coalition.”
Tsumba first worked under the leadership of Steve Galen and now works under current President and CEO Leslie Graham. Both are influential leaders with very different styles. Galen was a very conceptual leader focused on ideas about what might be possible, and Graham has a more process-oriented approach emphasizing how to turn ideas into reality. Hillery Tsumba is grateful to have learned much from each of them.
When asked if her reputation for always treating others with respect comes from her cultural roots in Zimbabwe, Tsumba concedes that the formal culture in her home country likely played a role. But she credits her parents for always being clear about respecting everyone.
“My Dad always said to take the time to appreciate the people helping you, and that made an impression,” said Tsumba. She grew up in a middle-class area of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. “In the post-colonial era, we were all very aware of the advantages we had in life. I believe that is why I’ve been drawn to mission-driven work. It is important to help those who don’t have the same advantages in life.”
Although she anticipates difficult discussions and growing pains, Hillery Tsumba sees an exciting future for the Primary Care Coalition. “We are at an interesting inflection point where PCC has to continue to excel at what we do well and make changes that will move us to the next level. It will take some work to improve the care and feeding of our internal processes so that we can let go of old habits that no longer serve us well and enhance the habits that stand the test of time. Although we cannot meet all the needs in the community because no single organization can, we can nurture our coalition and bring together a group of organizations to meet those needs better. That is what we do best.”
She points out that everyone is still trying to understand how the world shifted during the pandemic.
“We need to make sure we are as effective as possible in serving the needs of the collaboration,” said Tsumba. “When resources are constrained, people tend to consolidate power and meet fewer needs. But that is when it is more important than ever to give up power for a shared goal and try to go further by stretching resources to do more.”
“Organizations that do good in the world need to be healthy,” said Tsumba. “Mission-driven organizations can’t be expected to continue to do more with less. At some point, that becomes a death sentence. So, to continue to do impactful things means our work will have to include a lot of seemingly boring stuff as we find ways to pool resources to do even more.”
Hillery Tsumba officially became PCC’s Chief Operating Officer on April 3, 2023.