HISTORIC TRIANGLE — “Ten Questions with” is a series that allows readers to get to know local business leaders, volunteers and community members in the Historic Triangle.
This week, meet Aaron L. Thompson.
What is your job title and description?
I joined Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center in July of 2020 as Executive Director & CEO after most recently serving as Executive Director-Center at Chen Med, LLC. Before that, I served as the Chief Operating Officer at the Capital Area Health Network (CAHN), a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) in Richmond, Virginia.
I initiated several positive changes to improve operations at each location, benefiting the community. Seeing firsthand the resources that often elude underserved and underprivileged communities. Equally as important is my goal to eliminate health disparities and improve the quality of life for all individuals. I am intrigued by the prospects of the value-based approach to healthcare and a renewed focus on integrated care.
Who do you interact/work with on a regular basis?
I work with various people, entities, organizations, and jurisdictions. A couple of note include our local Community Services Board — Colonial Behavioral Health and all three local jurisdictions, James City County, York County and the City of Williamsburg. I continue to work with our partners at the Williamsburg Health Foundation to ensure both our missions are accomplished. Olde Towne works closely with both Sentara and Riverside Hospitals as well. The relationships and collaborative initiatives with our fellow safety-net facilities like Lackey, Gloucester Matthews, and Hampton HELP are equally important. Lastly, we have established more robust working relationships with Bacon Street, where we focus on Integrated Care, which encompasses the melding of primary care and behavioral health.
What is something about your job most people wouldn’t know about?
Two things immediately come to mind. People assume nothing is being accomplished when I’m not in the office. For most of my staff, their day ends at 5 p.m. They don’t have to take work home with them. I think that is great for them. For me, however, sometimes there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. I am always thinking about what comes next. What pressing issues exist that I might be able to get ahead of or make inroads with? I work out at 5:30 a.m. most mornings. Unfortunately, I am very nocturnal. I am very productive once my family has retired for the evening. Sometimes, that schedule conflicts. Sleeping at 2:30 a.m. and waking at 5 a.m. isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle. I’ll do better.
Secondly, the political waters that must be navigated would surprise most people. It takes a certain amount of experience to wade in those waters. You don’t have to be in a large city to get caught up in the abyss of politics.
How do you define success?
I define success by “Positive Impact” and “Personal Growth.” That means the impact that Olde Towne is having in and on the communities we serve. Likewise, I always tell the staff to brag about themselves. There is no better advocate for you than you! If I can assist you in getting to the next level of your career, I have succeeded as a leader in the development area. My staff is talented and has career aspirations for advancement in the future. They deserve the support and resources to help them achieve their goals.
What is your most successful accomplishment to date?
There have been several sentinel events over my three-year tenure. The first is how Olde Towne pivoted and navigated the pandemic. Our staff was amazingly resilient through some challenging times. The other accomplishment I take great pride in is repairing and furthering relationships that frayed for years before my arrival. It is very satisfying when the opportunity to re-establish positive lines of communication and mutual interests for the betterment of the community.
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that life is a long winding road and that patience will benefit me in the long run. Flexibility is necessary and will help me down the road. Don’t be so set in my ways that I lose sight of the bigger picture. “Always continue to learn” and “value relationships” — quality is more important than quantity. Lastly, “take risks” — Stepping out of your comfort zone can lead to the most rewarding experiences.
How long have you lived in the Historic Triangle?
Currently, I commute from Henrico however, I lived in Williamsburg (Villages of Westminster) for eight years. It was the most incredible neighborhood ever. My son attended Norge, Toano and graduated from Warhill. I enjoyed my time there.
What is your favorite part of the Historic Triangle?
I enjoy Williamsburg’s historical aspects and proximity to my undergrad alma mater, Hampton University. I also enjoyed Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. The area had many things to do and an excellent school system.
What do you do for downtime/to relax?
My family and my faith come first before everything. Spending time with Debbie (wife), Sumintra (daughter), Aaron-Michael (son) and our dog Barkley is a true joy. My wife and I are very social people and enjoy going to concerts. I also enjoy running, fitness, golf and playing the piano in my spare time.
What is the next step in your journey?
So many things are on the horizon here at Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center that my attention is focused squarely on taking OTMDC to the next level. That entails enhancing our Integrated Care initiative, establishing more collaborations in the community, raising more funds, ensuring staff morale is as high as possible, and continuing to strive every day to adhere to our mission.
Learn more about Olde Towne Medical and Dental here.
Do you want to learn more about your community and the people that live and work in the Historic Triangle? We are looking for people with interesting jobs, super volunteers, or community leaders to showcase. Reach out to let us know if you (or someone you know) would like to be considered for Ten Questions.