As a child, Angeline Larson saw the challenges of the blue-collar workers through her father, a career truck driver for UPS. Providing for five children made things tight at times, but health care wasn’t a concern, showing her how vital quality, accessible care was in the life of a family.
“He was a Teamster and he had really good health care,” she said. “My mom and dad were always so thankful; had we not had access to that company-provided health insurance through the union, it would have been very difficult for mom to birth five kids and to keep bones set and medications provided. It provided for us beyond what you see at face value.”
Medicine for the Masses
Larson toyed with the idea of becoming a physician, but when she got to college something didn’t seem to fit. She applied for and won a Rotary Club scholarship that sent her to Lusaka, Zambia, for a year to study public health and perform HIV research.
“It was there I found a calling in administration and it led my early career in public health,” she said.
Her career in leadership roles has sought to alleviate disparities in the content and quality of health care. As chief operating officer for Charles Drew Health Center, her work improved the electronic health records system of the federally qualified health center, as well as informed other organizations in Nebraska and Iowa to do the same.
She provided oversight for health programs serving low-income and vulnerable populations including Healthcare for the Homeless’ (HCH), two locations and 3,000 annual visits; Public Housing Primary Care’s four locations; and School-Based Health Center program’s four locations.
She also led implementation of Title X funding and compliance, including a multi-million dollar, privately funded program aimed at reducing STIs and unplanned pregnancies in Douglas County.
She also spearheaded the implementation of the Adolescent Health Risk Assessment and Intervention program in partnership with the American Public Health Association.
A New Challenge
Each of these roles challenged Larson’s multifaceted skillset differently, but her adaptive communication style and fearlessness facing challenges were tools she used consistently and to great effect. These are also things she’s carried over to her new role as director of strategic and business operations at the Criss Heart Center at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.
“Effective communication is much more than just speaking. I really do feel like I am translating messages in many of my roles,” she said. “It’s really about being a good listener and a following up. I also think it really has to do with my choices to just do something different.
“In my career, I have said ‘yes,’ to experiences and jobs that people don’t normally say yes to. I’ve learned so much about listening and reading body language and not shying away from problems that I’ve never had to solve before. Experiences that other people think are either odd or not for them or too difficult, I’m sort of drawn to those challenges. I think it’s helped me today.”
In her new role, which Larson moved into seven months ago, she is responsible for all business aspects of the heart center, from financial planning and budgeting to ensuring the center is aptly represented within Children’s Hospital and the community.
A California native, Larson received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an MBA from Creighton University. She’s also completed the Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Health Care Executive Program at UCLA.