When Veronica Gonzalez, 2005 Northampton Community College (NCC) graduate, first started her career, she wasn’t sure the direction she was headed. “I’ve always loved the healthcare environment and the idea of helping and serving people. I knew I wanted to work in a hospital or doctor’s office. I knew the clinical side wasn’t a good fit for me, but I wanted to help on the administration side in a meaningful way.” 

As a teen mom, Gonzalez attended NCC because it was close to home where she had her support network, her family, friends and community. Her daughter was 3-weeks old at her Freedom high school graduation, and she knew she needed to continue schooling to provide for her. “It made me more focused because I had someone else to worry about now. To me, there was no other route.”  

Graduating with her A.S. in Healthcare Administration made Gonzalez realize she could accomplish her goals. With mentors, like her dean who pulled her aside after class to check on her during times of personal struggle, she felt “The professors at NCC cared and took the time.” She added, “NCC gave me the confidence to further my education and the foundational skills to help me develop professionally.” 

Shortly after graduating NCC, Gonzalez was hired at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) as an office secretary. Growing up, she helped interpret for her Spanish-speaking mother when she would go to the doctor, ensuring that she was getting the care needed. So, it felt like a natural transition when she accepted the position of Trained Medical Interpreter for LVHN. “The patients reminded me of my family, people who have been there for me my whole life; so, I was a natural advocate for them seeing how we could improve the ways we help them.” Her mentor at work saw she wanted to have a voice for those patients of limited English proficiency. In order to make a bigger impact, he suggested she pursue a leadership position.  

In 2009, Gonzalez earned her bachelor’s of business administration in healthcare management and took a job at a neurology office with LVHN as an office coordinator. She eventually worked her way up into managerial positions in that office until a special opportunity presented itself at the 17th street campus of LVHN.  

“At the 17th street campus, where vulnerable community members receive high quality and culturally sensitive healthcare services, I was the director of Centro de Salud, Latino Health Initiative and director of the Interpreter Services Department for LVHN. I loved working at this mission-driven campus and continuing to advocate for people, but I also knew I couldn’t grow unless I continued to advance my education.” In 2015, Gonzalez received her MBA in healthcare management systems and was promoted to administrator of the community practices at the 17th street campus which included the oversight of eight different practices. 

In July 2020, LVHN announced these eight community practices at the 17th Street campus would transition to a new independent organization called Valley Health Partners Community Health Center (VHP), of which Gonzalez would be the CEO. The mission of VHP is to “partner with the people of the community to achieve health and wellness through the delivery of extraordinary care that is compassionate, accessible, and affordable in a family-centered and culturally sensitive environment.” VHP will increase accessibility to care for vulnerable populations and expand programs and services.  

Veronica Gonzalez the CEO of Valley Health Partners Community Health Center and affiliated with LVHN.
Veronica Gonzalez, the CEO of Valley Health Partners Community Health Center, talks with staff.

VHP is now designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike (FQHC-LA) by Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a big accomplishment in Gonzalez’s eyes. “We are advancing health equity, and it gives us the space to expand services for our community. It is an honor to give back and serve a community that was there for me during some of my most challenging times as a young single mother.”  

To share what she’s learned in the industry, Gonzalez came full circle to speak on an Alumni Career Panel for “Inspiring the Next Generation of LatinX Healthcare Professionals” held in fall of 2020 at NCC. 

Now, Gonzalez is accepting an award for the Lehigh Valley Business (LVB) 40 under 40, which celebrates the Valley’s leaders under the age of 40 who have made great impact in their professional accomplishments and community service. She has two sons, Nathan, 14, and Jadiel, 12, a stepson, Bryan, 15, and is happily married to her husband Bryan. As for her daughter who gave her the motivation to succeed as a young mom, 19-year-old Mariah is studying psychology, and Gonzalez couldn’t be prouder of her pursuit of her passion.