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The PHPDA Governing Council is Delighted to Introduce You to Our New Executive Director: Virgil Wade

Virgil (Pawnee/Choctaw) is known for his exemplary leadership of both Chief Seattle Club, as Deputy Director, and PHPDA, as Governing Council Chair. Today, we are grateful for his desire to lead the organization on the next leg of its journey.

We chose Virgil for his unique blend of experiences that position him to bring wisdom and perspective to PHPDA’s strategic direction. He holds:

  • The insight of oversight as a former PHPDA Governing Council member. 
  • The experience of partnering with PHPDA as a past grantee. 
  • Deep-rooted knowledge of working in, and with, community-based organizations, including Chief Seattle Club. 
  • Career-long servant-leadership across many roles.
  • Compassionate understanding of barriers to care and the needs of communities, as a former tribal family advocate.

“My leadership is characterized by three qualities: transparency, integrity, and accountability. These are foundational to holding trusted relationships. And I am a leader committed to lifting others up.”

Virgil’s views on health equity were informed by firsthand experiences.

Having grown up in Pawnee, Oklahoma (pop. 2,000), the only choice for healthcare in his community was an Indian Health Services clinic where inconsistent providers, long waits, and short visits were the norm. No one asked “who’s your primary care provider?” No one discussed the lack of access to high-quality care. No one questioned whether it could be different. He knows it can.

As PHPDA expands its role as an ally, resource, convener, and change agent, we’re excited to see Virgil apply his years of experience as an advocate.

We know he’ll be a passionate voice for health equity, channeling the needs, challenges, and visions of the communities and grantees we partner with. And, as PHPDA’s first Native American and community-based leader to serve as Executive Director, we know he’ll continue to center community in all the work we do. 

“What matters to me is making a genuine difference. Being a voice, a real vocal part of what is going on. I will continue the march toward health equity where John left off.”

Virgil is starting May 22. We are excited to have him share more about his vision and expertise in this new role, and for all of you to get to know him.