President and CEO
Clinica Family Health Services
English Literature Major
Peter Leibig, who graduated from Knox with a degree in English literature
in 1973, is president and CEO of a Clinica Family Health Services, a system
of federally funded Community Health Centers serving underserved residents of the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area. Clinica has grown from one site providing 3,000 medical visits per year with seven employees in 1987, when Leibig first joined the clinic as executive director, to four sites providing nearly 40,000 medical visits per year with 300 staff and net assets of more than $31 million in 2010. Leibig has spent more than 30 years in health care planning and administration, working as a rural health systems planner in Illinois and Colorado, as the administrator of a low-birthweight prevention project with the Colorado Department of Public Health, and as a member of many boards and councils that strive to improve health care delivery, including chairing the Colorado Community Health Network. In 2003, he received the Community Healthcare Improvement Award from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and in 2005, he was named the Daily Camera Pacesetter for innovations in medicine and science.
In February 2011, Leibig was recognized by the College with an Alumni Achievement Award for his achievements in healthcare administration.
Describe your Knox experience.
I chose Knox because it allowed students to take a broad range of courses in liberal arts rather than forcing too much on a single "major." While my major was English literature and I took creative writing courses when I could, I enjoyed classes in history, pottery, psychology, physics, etc. In fact, next to writing poetry with Sam Moon, "play with clay" was my favorite, and I kept taking pottery classes until the professor informed me that my lack of any talent would eliminate me from advancing in any visual art. I missed pounding on those great gobs of earth. Campus life was wonderful during the tumultuous early 1970s, and Knox provided a free and open environment for learning and experimentation that I will always value. I had no idea when I was at Knox that the career I ended up pursuing even existed. I'm so glad I did not spend my college years focused on preparing for a job!
How has that experience affected your life?
I think my liberal arts education (I went on to grad school in English literature, though never finished) has served me well as the CEO of a non-profit. Thinking well, writing well, and being open to risk-taking and the differing opinions and world views of others are all skills Knox helped me develop. They have all served me well as a father and executive.
What do you believe is your most notable achievement?
My top achievement is having two great kids who have become successful adults and great friends. Next to that, building a non-profit health care provider from two medical clinicians serving about 2,000 underserved people a year in 1987, to 45 medical clinicians, 10 behavior health professionals, and five dental clinicians serving nearly 40,000 poor, mostly uninsured, people a year today has been a great ride. I feel as though I have done something meaningful with my life. A rare privilege these days I fear.
What words of advice would you offer to current Knox students?
Take advantage of the opportunity to broaden your horizons. Take some courses in things you are certain will have nothing to do with your life's work. Be confident that the chances you can even guess what your life's work will be are pretty remote, so just learn for the joy of it. Find inspirational professors (poet Sam Moon was mine) and take as many classes of theirs as you can. But, remember, "no-talent bums" do face a ceiling of advancement in some fields of study at Knox, as I so ably demonstrated at the potter's wheel. Is there still Flunk Day? Enjoy it!