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Q&A with C.J. Moore: Spirit of volunteerism a perfect fit with job

October 29, 2010
photo - C.J. Moore is the southern Colorado public affairs director for Kaiser Permanente. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE
C.J. Moore is the southern Colorado public affairs director for Kaiser Permanente. Photo by JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE 

The list of awards that C.J. Moore has won is long.

That list includes the Athena Award, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction, Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber Business Leader of the Year and, just this month, Business Leader in the Arts.

But there’s a list that’s even longer — the list of boards and committees on which Moore serves. She’s chairwoman of the Colorado Springs Conservatory board of directors. She also serves on the Rocky Mountain PBS state board, Pikes Peak Community College Foundation board, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Chancellor’s Leadership Class community board, Southeast/Armed Forces YMCA advisory board and the El Paso County Board of Health (as vice chairwoman). She also serves on many committees, including the American Heart Association Heart Ball committee and the YMCA Turkey Trot race committee.

And that’s all on top of her day job: Moore is the southern Colorado public affairs director for Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans. She joined Kaiser in 1997.

Her husband, Mike, died in 2002; they were married for 34 years. They lived in the Springs for a time in the late 1980s and returned in 1994 after he retired from the Army. Moore has two grown children and two grandchildren. She declined to give her age, “but suffice it to say, I came of age as a child of the ’60s,” she says.

Question: Where does this spirit of volunteerism come from? How does it mesh with your job?

Answer: This comes from my mother — she has been a volunteer and a fundraiser as long as I can remember. At 88, she still volunteers and raises funds for the American Medical Association’s educational and research fund — she was one of their top 10 fundraisers in the country for many years.

Volunteerism is part and parcel of my job. As public-affairs director for southern Colorado, I need to be out and involved and know what is going on. Actually, my volunteerism is one of the reasons I was originally hired by Kaiser. I am committed to having our Kaiser Permanente employees as involved in our community as they can be. Our staff serves on more than 10 local boards (not too bad when you have local staff here of about 50) and we volunteer at many local events.

Q: Similarly, you have a passion for the arts. Have you always had that passion? How would you assess the Colorado Springs arts scene?

A: My father is the reason I have a passion for the arts. He believed firmly that an education was not complete without the addition of the arts — music, painting, drama, the whole gamut. I played flute and piccolo all the way through college. And with years of living in Germany, Washington, D.C., California and many places in between, I had unbelievable opportunities to see great visual art, great music performed and wonderful drama. I can eat right and exercise and make sure my body stays as healthy as possible, but if I do not feed my soul through the arts, I am empty.

The Springs art scene is really amazing. There is everything from popular music, classical music, jazz, country, you name it — and you can usually find it live somewhere in town or nearby. And the visual arts — we have some amazing local artists. Kaiser Permanente filled its admin office as well as our two medical clinics with art from local artists.

Q: You say you got the job at Kaiser Permanente after answering an ad. Was there something in the ad that particularly grabbed you, or did it just seem like a job you could do?

A: I was a freelance reporter and writer, working for an outfit based in Washington, D.C., and New York — loved the work, but missed being around people. I had a stack of job rejections that must have been 3 or 4 inches thick, and then I answered that ad. It just seemed like something I would like to do. It is my dream job and I still love everything about it, even after almost 14 years.

Q: You started at Kaiser as it was beginning operations in Colorado Springs. What kind of growth has Kaiser seen in Colorado since then? And how has your job changed over those years?

A: Kaiser Permanente has really grown over the years — we started here in 1997 with no members at all and now we are up to about 53,000. Our main product is commercial insurance, and we are now offering a Medicare Advantage product — Senior Advantage. We now have two Kaiser Permanente medical offices — one for our senior members in Briargate and a primary-care clinic in Pueblo.

My job has changed some over the past 13-plus years. I am no longer doing our member communications, which I miss very much. I have broadened the scope of my job to include both Pueblo and Fremont counties, and work a lot with different groups in Pueblo now as well. I still do the media for southern Colorado and also our local government relations. Community relations is now a much larger part of my job and I have become somewhat of an ambassador for Kaiser Permanente in this area.

Q: What impact has the dismal economy had on Kaiser’s business?

A: Actually, here in southern Colorado, we have been growing our membership. The economy has affected many small businesses more than it has the larger ones in the area of health insurance and that, in turn, affects our business. We have worked really hard to keep our rates reasonable and to offer those programs and benefits that our clients need and want. 

Q: Some aspects of the national health care reform are beginning to take effect. What’s the biggest impact you see on Kaiser and its customers from that reform?

A: Kaiser Permanente has been at the forefront of influencing health care reform. Many of the things we stand for — preventive care, helping to insure and care for the low-income and uninsured, healthy eating and active living — are a part of the first health care reforms being implemented. So it has really enhanced what we are already doing in many cases.

Our current health care reform is just the beginning. If you think about when Medicare was passed in 1965 and you look at it today, you will see that what we have now bears little resemblance to the original. Health care reform is a work in progress, and we do need to let it take effect and then work to tweak it so that it becomes even better and for more people.

Q: What’s one thing that would surprise people to learn about you?

A: I am hopelessly in love with science fiction — both books and movies. It is my escape and I love nothing better than piling up in front of my TV with a whole batch of really good sci-fi movies. I even used it to teach reading to the soldiers down at Fort Carson and in Germany. I adore “Star Trek” in all of its forms, and my favorite authors are Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.

Answers are edited for brevity and clarity. Call the writer at 636-0272.

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