When she was a kid, Toyin Ajayi’s career goal was to “be the boss of something.” Drawn to power suits and authority, she aspired to become an unspecified boss lady. She may be a boss now, but her authority is well-balanced by a soft side. And Toyin’s path to her current role as Chief Health Officer of Cityblock Health took a route through public health and medicine where the power suit is rarely seen.
Toyin grew up in Kenya and was “raised like a boy” to be independent, outspoken and adventurous, a clear difference from the usual female upbringing in her home culture. She moved to the U.S. to go to Stanford and figure out how to end up in that power suit (or authority hoodie). But instead of taking the startup route that most of her friends pursued after graduating, Toyin rejected the competitive culture of Silicon Valley to launch into public health, first in San Francisco and later, after she got her medical degree, in Sierra Leone.
And yet…Toyin was always drawn to the operational and business side of medicine, and thus she ended up at a startup after all. Joining with her business partner Iyah Romm, they founded Cityblock Health, a for-profit company seeking a scalable way to help marginalized and underserved people get the very best medicine has to offer. She sees her role as a key translator between a bunch of soft and fuzzy clinicians and social workers and a hard core team of technical engineers, all of whom are driven by the the broader healthcare community’s more recent recognition of the importance of social determinants of health. If she gets her way, all of medicine will take a much broader view of patient care and change the prevention paradigm.
Lisa vividly remembers the first time she meet Toyin: as an audience member at the NCQA Quality Talks event where Toyin had the significant crowd enthralled (a video of her talk is linked below). Her intellect, empathy and authenticity were obvious and remarkable. It quickly became clear that these are the words that everyone who knows Toyin would choose; she is universally loved for her skills as a physician and her humanity in helping those most in need…and for her silly side, which is also in evidence on the show.
We are thrilled to welcome Toyin to Tech Tonics. To listen to the show, please use the audio player below:
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We are grateful to GE Ventures for their sponsorship today. GE Ventures – Multiple Paths to Big Impact.