Beginning my next chapter as CEO of Cityblock Health
Dr. Toyin Ajayi, Cityblock Health co-founder & CEO
Today, as I step into the role of CEO at Cityblock, I am full of gratitude, humility and optimism for the path ahead. Over the past (nearly) five years, Cityblock has grown from an ambitious idea to a company that is transforming health outcomes for marginalized populations at scale. The journey has had many chapters, and most of the time, the page has turned without me really noticing. In the flurry of building, the days are long but the months seem to fly by — and only when I stop, take a breath and look back do I notice that one chapter has ended and another has begun.
In our first chapter, the idea for Cityblock was born. We were lean, scrappy, and full of hope and optimism but also entirely unsure about whether the vision we were articulating would resonate or ever gain traction. We put our heads down and started building, talking with low-income folks about their healthcare needs, listening to the challenges that healthcare payers and providers experienced in caring for their most complex patients, and then designing the model and the technology that would underpin our business. We were the underdogs, pitted against the status quo in a famously intractable sector, fueled by an unwavering determination to achieve the unimaginable.
Then one day I looked up and realized that we had turned a page into a new chapter. Suddenly we were moving, and quickly: we launched in three markets in those first two years. We began to see the first fruits of our efforts realized in industry-leading outcomes: engagement rates and member net promoter scores that spoke to the experience we were providing to our members. I began to see the impact on the members and families who I had the privilege of caring for directly as their Cityblock primary care physician, watched their health and sense of agency improve, feeling the deepening bonds of the relationships we had built and the familiarity of the homes that I visited regularly. Talented, mission-driven people joined our team, and we quickly became a recognizable name in the emerging value-based care ecosystem.
The third chapter hit us like a ton of bricks. In 2020, we found ourselves operating a business that served thousands of low-income individuals with complex health and social needs as a global pandemic began to disproportionately ravage those very communities. We leaned into our commitment to deliver the best possible care, doubling down on our focus on individuals who receive their healthcare through Medicaid and those with disabilities (both physical and behavioral) — the most marginalized amongst us. We more than doubled the number of members we served, expanded our markets even further, and grew our revenue five-fold. We adapted, we innovated and we pushed forward even under the most challenging of circumstances, fueled by an abiding drive to ensure we delivered for our members.
And now, we are entering a new chapter, and this time, it’s a transition I’m experiencing in the moment, not in hindsight. When the board asked me to take on the role of CEO from my dear friend and long-time collaborator Iyah Romm, I had the chance to take the time to reflect, to consider what this chapter holds for the company, and for me. Today, I am intentionally turning the page as I step into this new phase and role.
This next chapter is the one where we fully realize our potential of transforming health outcomes for millions of people who have been marginalized and underserved. Where we prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that companies can and should be held to a standard of success that includes profitability and financial value, but can equally have a positive impact on the world, and especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us. And while this chapter is new, we are entering it, as with each prior chapter, alongside our members, and the privilege of caring for them; the incredible team of Cityfolx, with their passion, commitment and brilliance; and our partners, our board, and all the supporters who have helped us along the way to realize our potential to radically transform the healthcare system.
I’m excited for our next phase, and so deeply proud to lead us through it. And I’m forever grateful to Iyah for the incredible foundation he worked so hard to build, for his continued partnership, and for the opportunity of a lifetime: to build a category-defining company alongside the best people in the world.