Nzinga Harrison is the Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder of Eleanor Health. Nzinga is a 45-year-old entrepreneur, physician, and addiction psychiatric expert. She has disrupted the health industry by offering patients good recovery plans. Nzinga gained popularity in the pro-industry for changing how the world views addicts. She acknowledges that mental illness can result from substance abuse or traumatic experiences.
The questions she has answered include; what are the main behavioural addictions? What are the processes involved in the recovery stages? Which are the key health measures taken to reduce the addiction rate? Nzinga’s core values revolve around the improvement of mental health services. She defines addiction as a form of chronic illness among patients of any age group. Eleanor Health has resources to reach more people who are struggling with addiction.
Early Life and Schooling
Nzinga was born in Indianapolis to African American parents. Her parents decided to name her ‘Nzinga’ after an Angolan Queen who fought for her people. Nzinga’s parents wished that their daughter would have a positive impact on the world. Also, Nzinga got her name so that she can be a leader in her community. Even though the dream was a blur during that time, Nzinga’s parents believed in her. Being born in an African American community was not a walk in the park for Nzinga. The odds were always against her personal and professional life. Nzinga’s mother was a teacher while her dad was a civil right fighter.
From a younger age, Nzinga developed empathy and compassion for other people. It is because she grew up in a family of activism and education. As a result, she had the desire to change the lives of people in her community. Her parents taught her the importance of developing healthy relationships with people. Nzinga learned to treat others how she wants them to treat her regardless of their ethnicity. Understanding how to interact with others was the foundation of building her brand.
During her childhood, Nzinga had a dream of becoming a doctor when she grows up. This vision did not change throughout her life from she was 7 years old until adulthood. But her other siblings were not sure about their interests and objectives.
Nzinga was a curious kid fascinated by medical and health practices. But she also had a passion for activism for being the voice of the voiceless. After graduating from high school, Nzinga wanted to pursue a pediatric surgery course. She got her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry at Howard University. Afterward, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Also, she studied at Emory University for General Psychiatry Residency. Nzinga discovered that the surgery field was not where she belonged. When she began doing psychiatric rotations, she knew her true identity and purpose. At medical school, Nzinga met Dr. Mark who was one of her influential mentors. She learned from him different aspects of medical decision-making and health business.
Decades after medical school, Nzinga fell in love with the science of people’s emotions. She had the urge of using activism and medicine to treat addiction and mental illnesses. Nzinga began her internships by joining the Member Board of Trustees in 2009. Her role was under Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association. The organization had over 700 psychiatrists treating patients with mental illnesses. Working with other professionals opened doors for many opportunities in Nzinga’s career. She got knowledge of the common contributors to substance addiction in patients. The idea of starting Eleanor Health came to life to offer quality mental health services.
“I have let my heart be full of the people who have shared their lives with me. Their battles, their survivals, their absolute courage in the face of a devastating illness in a country that heaps shame on top of that struggle. I hope that the current compassion movement for people with addiction will continue to grow and that people with active addiction will be as valued as people in long-term recovery. I want us all to truly see people, separate from their illnesses. If we truly let ourselves see the people who struggle with addiction, we will see that they are worth every ounce of passionate compassion we have to give.”
Nzinga was the co-founder of the Physicians for Criminal Justice Forum. This organization focuses on ending health consequences affecting the criminal justice system. Since the founding of the company in 2015, it has grown to over 800 members. This was a result of Nzinga’s leadership and willingness to lead physicians to greatness. Through good professional experience, she established the Nzinga A. Harrison MD LLC. The main aim of this firm was to educate experts on addiction and mental health. The webpage is still active with articles and blogs for mental health knowledge. Managing her brand influenced her to create Eleanor Health in 2019.
“First, being absolutely and utterly explicit that equity is our responsibility as a health care provider. That equals thinking of equity in every major function of the organization, from the people we recruit to be on our team to the people that we provide care for. We’re looking at our clinical outcomes along those domains — those defined populations that have been historically marginalized, looking for disparities, and enacting strategic interventions to try to address those disparities.”
“Tied for first is providing value-based care and population health care. We provide whole-person addiction care in value-based arrangements that allow us to address those social drivers of health. But also we are at risk for the clinical and life outcomes of the people that we’re serving. So if those folks don’t get better, our financial sustainability is at risk.”
Substance addiction and mental disorders are among the top causes of death in the world. The current society views addicts as irresponsible human beings. But Nzinga expresses her compassion for patients who suffer from addictions. She recognizes that if she can make them feel needed, then the recovery process will be easier. As a result, Nzinga decided to start Eleanor Health for medication management. The company offers evidence-based care and accessible treatment to patients. Eleanor Health is on a mission to transform the lives of addicts for the better. Nzinga supports that everyone deserves a second chance in life. This health organization has top-performing pros that help addicts live amazing lives. Eleanor Health does not only treat addiction but also social and physical health. For long-term recovery to be possible, treating the whole patient is necessary.
The company offers different services such as therapy & counseling, recovery coaching, and telehealth. Eleanor takes accountability to meet patients in person to understand their problems. After identifying the issue, a personalized plan is available to help in recovery. Due to the upgrade in technology, Eleanor also has virtual care sessions for patients. This method makes it easier to reach more victims on a global level. A flexible payment option is a unique factor that makes the company stand out. Any patients in need of a mental care plan can access the treatment at affordable costs.
“We have our Black Lives Matter committee, which is responsible for holding the company accountable to our antiracism commitment. And we’re working to build out those same types of initiatives for other communities who have been historically marginalized.”
Eleanor Health has collected $82 million in funding within 3 financial rounds. The brand has two leading investors and 8 shareholders. The two recent investors of Eleanor Health include Warburg Pincus and Rethink Impact.
Leadership Roles and Awards
As a founder, Nzinga has gone the extra mile to give back to the community. Technology has made it worth reaching the audience through her In Recovery podcast. Nzinga uses her platform to share stories of people in need of mental treatment. The In Recovery podcast has helped in transforming the lives of patients worldwide. Nzinga shares care plans with her audience and refer them to Eleanor Health. This responsibility has given people hope to look forward to a healthy life. Her major accomplishment is winning the Patient’s Choice Award.
The story of Nzinga is inspiring to all entrepreneurs who have a dream to make a difference. Hard work and dedication are key building blocks to having a successful business. Also, an entrepreneur needs a unique idea to fill in the market gap in any industry.
Nzinga Harrison is part of our Black Founders50 Series. Download the complete 2023 BBVA Founders50 list here.