Dr. Teresa Couts and I have served together over the last decade as the Co-Directors of the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative (KHC) and Co-Directors of the UAW/Ford Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI). Teresa and I were often seen together and worked closely, as the nature of our work was joint in nature between the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford Motor Company. People confused us often, and we learned to answer to one another’s names. We even wondered if we should blend our names into “TerAnda” or “RandEsa.” We settled on “TerAnda.” Our dynamic duo ended on April 1, 2020, as Teresa transitioned back to Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant for her next career move, albeit a bit delayed due to COVID-19.
Dr. Teresa Couts began her career with UAW/Ford Motor Company in 1995, serving in a variety of positions throughout her career. Teresa and I first began working together in the late ‘90s in Ford’s training department. For those of you who know Teresa, it will be unsurprising to hear that she emerged as a strong leader and a popular, effective, and engaging trainer. After I moved into a new role as the Director of the Family Center, Teresa became a board member of the center, so our work continued to cross paths in the early 2000s. In 2011, Dr. Teresa Couts became the third and final UAW Director of the UAW/Ford CHI, with me as the Corporate Director of the UAW/Ford CHI program.
The UAW/Ford Community Healthcare Initiative began forming and convening the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative (KHC) in 2001 and closed on March 31, 2020 after nearly 20 years of community health service to Greater Louisville. Teresa was responsible for convening and leading key healthcare stakeholders to collaborate on healthcare improvements focused on measurement, transparency, and transformation. Dr. Couts handled all of the KHC’s finances and membership along with many other key operational and leadership responsibilities. In her role, she was honored as a Medistar Healthcare Leadership Nominee in 2019 by Medical News, received the Leadership Award with the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions in 2018, and received Louisville’s Commitment to Compassion Award by Insider Louisville in 2017. On March 11, 2020, the KHC honored Teresa with a “Leading by Example” award recognizing her years of dedicated service and leadership.
Teresa is known for her commitment to excellence, strength, resiliency, work ethic, leadership, uncanny memory, and “better than Google maps” skills. Her role cannot and will not be fulfilled by anyone, and I want to thank her on behalf of the entire KHC team for her exemplary leadership. Teresa will be greatly missed by the KHC staff, board, members, community, and certainly by me. Her early morning starts, willingness to do anything needed to get the job done, excitement about yummy vegan food, passion for sports and politics, beautiful smile, quick wit, and unconditional friendship will be missed. I thank Teresa for her partnership and friendship over the years. As Co-Directors, Teresa and I are proud of our accomplishments together, and the growth of the KHC will be part of Teresa’s lasting legacy.
As Teresa and I abandon “TerAnda” and reclaim our respective names, we will learn to adapt to our new and separate, yet familiar, roles. When office work returns to “normal,” we will notice the office a bit dimmer without Teresa’s light. I wish Teresa continued success in her next career chapter and look forward to the day we can connect again in person for some amazing food, drinks, family updates, and new and old stories that only old co-workers can appreciate.