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GOOD CITIZEN

Christian Ragland helps community breakdown barriers to health care

  • Good Citizens

Christian Ragland always knew he wanted to give back to his community.

It started as a child, working with his great aunt as she served the people of Atlantic City.

Jean Webster, known to many as Sister Jean, fed the poor for years, starting her own soup kitchen.

“It clicked for me that I wanted to help people in some way,” he says. “It gave me a childlike view, knowing just enough that whatever I decided to do, I want to help people like Aunt Jean.”

His goal has been met many times over, according to those who work with him at AtlantiCare, where he is vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“There are countless stories where he has gone above and beyond for a patient, a community member or a team member,” says AtlantiCare’s Chief People Officer Dennis Lennon.

Ragland’s tireless efforts make him the perfect choice for BreakingAC’s inaugural Good Citizen feature, his colleagues say.

“He is the best citizen,” Lennon says. “He is somebody who is there to serve the community. We’re so lucky to have him.”

Ragland spent his childhood in Pleasantville and then Egg Harbor City, where he graduated from Absegami High School in 2007.

But Atlantic City always had a special in his heart.

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His parents, Kevin and Mary Ragland, grew up here: His mother in the Uptown/Inlet section, his father in Venice Park.

Everywhere they went, they always knew someone. It’s something he inherited.

“Everybody knows Christian,” says Samantha Kiley, vice president of Community Health and Social Impact, who often works with Ragland in community outreach.

Whether it’s walking to Starbucks in Galloway Township, a high school hiring event in Cape May County or on the Rutgers University campus in Camden, there is always someone who knows Ragland.

In turn, he knows them: Asking about specifics of their life.


Ragland hosted a Boys & Girls Club basketball game that gave the kids insight into careers in health care that go beyond doctors and nurses.

 


“I think that’s what makes him so successful,” Lennon says. “He truly does care and gets to know people in a meaningful way.”

It also helps in community outreach, where those living in underserved areas often are distrustful of those claiming to help.

“He’s done a lot of work to try to break down barriers and get people connected to care,” Kiley says.

“Sometimes it’s easier for that person to go trust an organization via something or someone they know,” Ragland says.

Once they know him, they feel comfortable reaching out for help, whether a health issue or looking for work or some other connection.

“There is an untapped talent pipeline we wouldn’t even know about without his connections throughout our region,” Lennon says. “I can’t even measure the impact he has with the work he does every single day.”


Ragland with co-worker Kevin Leddy.

 



Ragland takes a selfie with current Recovery Court Judge Jeffrey Waldman.

 


“One thing I really love about Christian is, when he sees something that he doesn’t think is right or that can be improved, he doesn’t stop until he makes sure he addresses it in some way,” Kiley says. “Where some people see barriers, he sees opportunities.”

She says he’s like the Energizer bunny.

“I always say, ‘Chris, do you ever sleep or eat?’” Lennon says. “He’s always on the move with a smile on his face.”

Ragland’s plan always was to return to his roots after college, where he surprised many when a kid from New Jersey was elected student body president at Penn State.

“I made it clear I wanted to come back, but I needed somewhere to come back to,” he says.

Everything came together about seven years ago, when his wife said she didn’t like that he was traveling so much for work.

Ragland was working for a human resources consulting firm that worked with resettled populations.

But Christina Ragland wanted her husband home. She also was getting ready to have their first child.

So Christian Ragland reached out to AtlantiCare and “it’s been up from there.”


Ragland's family

 


Mariah Ragland is now 7. Morgan, who turned 6 on Saturday, and Matthew, 4, complete the family, who lives in Mays Landing.

He says he’s happy to work with AtlantiCare.

“Their mission aligns with my mission: A healthy community and access for people,” Ragland says. “We’re friends and family taking care of friends and family.”


KNOW A GOOD CITIZEN?

Want to nominate someone to be featured as a Good Citizen on BreakingAC?
CLICK HERE to send an email with your suggestion and why you think they should be honored.


author

Lynda Cohen

BreakingAC founder who previously worked in newspapers for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

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