VillageCare President and CEO Emma DeVito has made a name for herself in New York’s healthcare industry as a Cuban woman with a heart of gold and excellent insight.
DeVito joined VillageCare, a nonprofit organization, in 1991 and has led the organization for the past twelve years, reshaping its focus from institutional care to community-based services. Throughout the organization’s expansion and new business ventures, DeVito is first and foremost committed to maintaining the well-being of VillageCare’s elderly and chronically ill populations.
“We have an obligation to these people aging in place,” said DeVito. “They’ve contributed to society, so what can we now do for them? I’ve always been interested in trying to learn more and, to the best of my ability, contribute to make things better for people as they’re aging.”
DeVito, who holds an MBA degree, first became interested in healthcare during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Coming into the arena with a financial perspective rather than a clinical one, she jumped at the opportunity to take part in an organization that was creating new programs to help a suffering community.
Her passion for these programs never wavered as the organization continued to create programs aiding elderly and chronically ill populations. DeVito’s regard for her elders began at a young age through her very close relationship with her grandmother.
“I was very close with my grandmother, she was a great influence in my thinking and in my respect for older people,” said DeVito. “ They have so much to offer. They have history – they’ve lived. That experience is so valuable, and we can learn from it.”
In addition to respecting her elders, DeVito’s grandmother and the rest of her family taught her to value her education and work ethic. As a Hispanic immigrant to the United States from Cuba, DeVito taught herself how to read and write English so that she could keep up in her schoolwork as a child.
“You get up and do it. You have to learn, you have to work hard, and you have to do the best you can,” said DeVito. “Both my mother and grandmother were my role models. They valued education and independence, it was important for them that as women you could stand on your own, contribute to society and have a strong voice, a strong focus on respect and can-do attitude.”
DeVito’s perseverance and can-do attitude has paid off in her success. Last year, she was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as a member of the Medicaid Redesign Team II, where she worked alongside government officials and distinguished healthcare experts to identify necessary changes to New York State’s Medicaid program.
She also serves on the boards of many organizations and is recognized by publications as an influential leader with impressive policies and a heart for positive change.
Under her leadership, the VillageCareMAX managed care plan has rapidly grown, reaching around 16,000 members last year. Over 500 staff people currently work for the plan, and many volunteers help with the organization’s services.
Throughout the pandemic, DeVito was determined to persevere for the wellbeing of the VillageCare community, most recently launching a telehealth program for members.
“It was a tough year, no doubt about it, for everyone. But I also think that you could see the best of people come out of this,” said DeVito. “It’s kind of the worst of times but the best of people.”
At the end of the day, DeVito’s heart for the elderly and her dedication to healthcare is bigger than policies and programs, though those remain necessary. Her compassion shows in her storytelling, her eye for beauty and her love for the City.