Jonathan Morello Shares Importance of Fostering Allyship During Pride Month and Beyond
For Pride Month, Centene is shining the spotlight on some of its employees and leaders. Jonathan Morello joined NH Healthy Families in 2013 as Manager of Case Management and is now Vice President of Population Health and Clinical Operations. He is also a registered nurse.
In the following Q&A, Jonathan describes his background and role, and shares the importance of advancing health equity for those we serve and fostering allyship not only during Pride Month, but at all times.
Q. Tell us about your background, your career at Centene, and your current role as VP of Population Health & Clinical Operations, NH Healthy Families.
A. I am a registered nurse by profession and have been in healthcare and nursing for almost 20 years. I began my career as a nursing assistant and then went to nursing school, becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse, then Registered Nurse, and subsequently achieving my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Later, I earned my Master of Science in Nursing with a focus in Health Care Systems Leadership in 2016, and a Master of Business Administration in 2021. After working in clinical capacities in long-term care, acute care, and critical care, I had an opportunity to become a prior authorization nurse, then Case Manager, and I worked for a Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. I began my Centene career in December 2013 at NH Healthy Families as Manager of Case Management. Over time, I served in additional capacities, including Director, Utilization Management, and now as Vice President of Population Health and Clinical Operations. I have enjoyed my nearly nine-year career at Centene and look forward to ascending to further capacities within the organization.
Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A. The most meaningful part of my job is the populations we serve in both the New Hampshire market and across Centene. I feel very strongly that as a nurse I have had direct, episodic impact with the patients I have cared for. At Centene, I have the opportunity to see the ripple effect that the actions we take day to day positively impact the populations we serve, enabling them to live healthier lives by accessing high-quality healthcare, innovative programs, and a wide range of health solutions. I also feel blessed to be a part of a fantastic team of amazing colleagues. As a leader, I feel fortunate that I get to play a role in supporting my team along their career journey and trajectory.
Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?
A. Many individuals have influenced me during my career, including colleagues, mentors, family, friends. If I had to pick one individual, I would have to say my father. My father was a nurse — he met my mother during their time in nursing school. My father encouraged and supported me to be the man I am today. However, most importantly, he initially discouraged me from pursuing nursing or any clinical career due to the grueling hours and endless professional demands. This helped me find my voice and follow my passion toward nursing and healthcare.
If it was not for my father, I would not have sought out becoming a nursing assistant, which was his one demand if I were to pursue nursing. This kicked off my career trajectory and I firmly believe this decision helped shape my path forward. As I continued to grow in my nursing career, he did change his mind and became more of a mentor and advisor. I will never forget his proud face and the tears shed at each commencement and nursing pinning ceremony. Absent this, I think I would have followed a different career path. Some may find it hard to believe that at one time my plan was to be a radio DJ and personality and that my initial college major was computer science. I have no regrets in making that rapid change and allowing those bigger dreams of mine in nursing and healthcare to take the front seat.
Q. How do we take Centene’s purpose to transform the health of the community one person at a time and deliver it locally?
A. We take Centene’s purpose to transform the health of the community one person at a time and deliver it locally in many ways. The one that comes to mind is through our commitment to partnering with the communities we serve, and providing local events, care management services, and focusing on how we can best serve both individuals and their families. We have realized many success stories and have overcome many challenges. I am excited to see how we continue to evolve with our communities as we move forward.
Q. What unique opportunities do you see ahead as we build upon our health equity strategy?
A. The unique opportunities I see include looking toward innovative approaches and identifying where we can have further impact. One area I am passionate about is working with community programs, including new and unique programs to advance our collective support for members, providers, communities, and families. An example is looking toward areas of support for individuals who have specific barriers, such as transportation, food insecurity, child care, a recent or current incarceration, and other day-to-day hardships that impede their success in advancing their education. This could look like partnerships with specific programs who are already doing this and/or working with communities that have colleges, technical schools, and other educational institutions.
I foresee there being continued growth in the health equity space, and I am encouraged and energized about these efforts. My dream is that these areas could help us fill the gaps in areas of high need, such as clinical support roles, nurses, and even potentially roles within the Centene enterprise. As a bonus, we would continue to improve the lives of individuals who may think their current challenges are too great to overcome. Filling these current gaps in health care or other challenges due to social determinants of health while promoting education, seems to be a win-win from my perspective.
Q. How is Centene’s approach to DEI different from other companies?
A. As one of the co-executive sponsors for the DEI programs in the New Hampshire market, I have witnessed a strong commitment to DEI at both the corporate and market levels. Centene really does put DEI at the forefront, and I have learned so much through our Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs), the EIG events and offerings, as well as the local programming we have developed, which includes panel discussions, TED talks, DEI Book Club meetings, and our monthly newsletter. Centene celebrates DEI and encourages all employees to participate. I have been overjoyed at the approach Centene has taken with DEI, and while I am eager to deepen and strengthen our efforts, I am proud of the steps we have taken.
Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Pride Month?
A. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, the significance of LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is imperative, and I love that Centene celebrates Pride Month and supports it year-round through our cPRIDE EIG. As I reflect on how far we have come as an LGBTQIA+ community, I think about how we can take steps toward making continued, sustained improvements, such as how we can further advance our support and education in the community and society at large through allyship. From the early days of Pride liberation, through current state, it is exciting and encouraging that we have such passion and support inside the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as from our friends, relatives, and colleagues. I feel fortunate that I can bring my whole self to work. I have always felt welcome, some colleagues have even met my husband and our three daughters. While Pride Month is a moment to celebrate, it does remind me that we still have work to do. Sadly, many members of the LGBTQIA+ community still face hate, violence, discrimination, and suffer from the impacts.
As we celebrate Pride Month, I resolve to continue to hold my LGBTQIA+ community in my heart and remind our allies of how much their support is needed. Moving forward, I remain optimistic that we will continue to see representation across many professional roles and dimensions, including leadership roles, on sports teams, in government, and many more. One of the things I think is so important about Pride Month is representation. My wish is that each individual representing the LGBTQIA+ community provides strength to our fellow LGBTQIA+ community members who are feeling fear or shame about their identity. Love is love and it comes in many forms. It is my hope to see that reverberated throughout the world, not only during Pride Month, but at all times.