IMG_0146Peak Vista Community Health Centers and its mission to improve health and well-being in the Pikes Peak region are what keeps Colorado Springs native Matt Payne close to home. Payne, a 35-year-old husband and father, identifies with and helps facilitate the nonprofit’s mission to increase health care accessibility despite the barriers some patients may face. As director of clinical support services, he oversees several departments and also works with several other community programs and nonprofits. Payne took some time during a live interview this week to tell the Business Journal about the services Peak Vista offers and what he has been doing to help since joining the team in 2007.

Why did you choose to stay in your hometown of Colorado Springs?

I have a lot of roots here. My family all lives here, my parents live here, my wife’s family all lives here. I also have a lot of connections here and I’m really involved in the community, so there is a lot keeping me here right now.

How are you involved in the community?

In 2011, I went through Leadership Pikes Peak’s Leadership Now program. Before that I had hardly done any community service or volunteer work. But that really ignited me to get involved in the community, and so right away I got on the board of Urban Peak, which is basically a homeless shelter for youth. I’m also the incoming board chair of the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, which does a lot of ecological work, trail building and environmental stewardship.

Do you think the Springs provides a good environment for young professionals?

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Yes and no. I think there are a lot of good things about Colorado Springs and a lot of hidden gems and treasures here that many people don’t know about. … I think it is getting better and there is a lot of movement around stimulating the environment for young professionals, and to attract young professionals and keep them here. I think we have a long way to go and that it’s on the radar of our mayor and City Council, but probably not to the extent it should be. There are a lot of activities here and lots of appeal for young professionals. What this community doesn’t necessarily have is a lot of economic opportunity. … I think it is going to get better, and I think things like City for Champions, while not perfect, are the kinds of things we need to stimulate the economy and attract young professionals.

How did you become interested in health care?

As an undergraduate, I wanted to be a geologist but then I took an intro to psych class and just fell in love with it. I love trying to understand people — people are fascinating to me. That’s kind of where it all started.

How do you feel that Peak Vista’s values align with your own?

I would say that’s definitely one of the things that keeps me working here: Our mission and the work that we do is so important. Even with the changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act, there are still going to be people out there without great access to care or who can’t afford the help they need. … Growing up, our family was poor and my parents were laid off and we were uninsured, so getting sick was a big deal. … So health care and health care advocacy and improving the way the system works is something I am really passionate about.

What do you do in your spare time?

On top of the two boards that I serve on and the Leadership Pikes Peak committee, I own a photography company. … I also teach photography classes and lessons, which keeps me crazy busy. … On top of that, I climb mountains: I’ve climbed all of the Fourteeners, I’ve climbed 83 of the 100 tallest peaks in Colorado, and hopefully by the end of next year I will have climbed all of them. The photography and the climbing go hand in hand real nicely.