News

Institute National Council welcomes new chair

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health 


Alaina Maciá * BS ’98, MBA ’02 * President and CEO, MTM, Inc.

Biography

Ms. Maciá’s vision and passion focuses on ensuring that community services—including healthcare, job access and social services—are accessible for all persons. Since 2005, she has grown her company’s revenue from $30m to $700m within the transportation industry, focusing on building a sustainable future with a reduction in impact to the climate. Ms. Maciá holds a Master’s degree in business administration from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, and is actively involved in the St. Louis community. In addition to her new role as chairwoman of WashU’s Institute for Public Health National Council, she is a member of the St. Louis chapter of the Young President’s Council, the St. Louis Regional Business Council, and the MICDS Board of Trustees. She is also on the board of the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

We caught up with Ms. Maciá to discuss her new role as chairwoman for the Institute’s National Council:

Tell us about your day-to-day work and how it relates to public health.

MTM is a transportation management firm that provides trips to the underserved, whether for receiving healthcare services, going to work, buying groceries or simply being social, MTM provides over 20-million trips a year to Medicaid members and ADA-certified transit riders. One of the top issues for underserved communities – including impoverished persons with disabilities, and the elderly – is transportation. Imagine how isolating it would be to not own or operate a vehicle. Lack of access to transportation relates to lower healthcare outcomes, reduced employment and isolation – all public healthcare related issues. MTM is passionate about removing barriers to communities through accessible, convenient transportation models.

What made you want to take on the role of chairwoman of the Institute’s National Council?

Washington University is a critical resource in St. Louis and nation-wide. The Institute’s work has a profound impact on lives here locally and globally. Now more than ever, we are faced with real public health issues that need to be solved. Whether it is COVID-19, gun violence or climate change, we need good models and solutions to affect change. I am passionate about public health. Any opportunity to address and affect these issues, especially as chairwoman of the council, is important and a top priority for me personally.

In your opinion, what is the importance of the National Council in terms of its partnership with the Institute for Public Health?

Our role is to ensure the Institute is on track with meeting its goals, while providing an outside perspective from professionals who are managing companies and not-for-profits with a stake in public health. As council members, we help ensure academia is centered on real and present issues that that have the greatest impact on our community, region and globe. We can also identify partners for the university in order to advance its mission.

How do you see your role as chairwoman of the council and what are your plans for its future?

I would like to ensure we are providing valuable input to the Institute by evaluating the goals that will help achieve its strategic plan. Leveraging the expertise of the council, we can help the Institute stand out as a top entity in public health, whether through the amplification of research, awarding grants, or in its collaboration with the community. In addition, I want to ensure that we are helping the Institute align with the chancellor’s goals for the University as a whole.

In your opinion, how does the Institute forge an “innovative and distinctive approach to the public health issues facing our region and world”?   The Institute is in a unique position to be a global leader in public health. By working with cross-disciplinary WashU researchers, the Institute helps identify models that can advance public health issues such as poverty, health inequities and disparities, gun violence, climate change and others. We can leverage and amplify WashU schools, students and researchers’ work and offer grants that help further research and employ evidence-based and self-sustaining models. Through this research, we can also help provide unbiased data that benefits our families, societies and the world through positive health outcomes.