"I think authenticity creates impact and purpose. I've always been honest, upfront, and open to my leadership team, staff, and the people I interact with."

My favorite country is: America The person I'd most like to have dinner with is: Alexander Hamilton

Thomas Tsang

Providing tech-driven mental healthcare with intentional inclusivity

CREATING A SERVICE BUILT FROM EXPERIENCE. Thomas Tsang's virtual mental health services startup Valera Health has deeply personal origins. In the early 1990s, he was rejected by his parents after coming out as gay while they were planning an arranged marriage for him. "My parents are very traditional Chinese parents. They said words to me that they did not mean at that time, but it was a reaction. I had a really tough time mentally and I didn't know where to go for services."

Valera Health is Thomas' first startup, founded in 2015 following a hugely successful medical career that includes everything from delivering care to crafting policy, including the Affordable Care Act. In 2010 he was recruited by the Obama administration to help drive forward the technology of how hospitals use medical records. Soon after, a shift into the private sector in commercializing digitally-enabled healthcare services gave him the confidence to establish Valera Health. "I appreciated how fast things moved and the ability to scale, and I thought maybe I could do this myself."

The past two years have seen Valera Health's growth take off; it's now considered one of the top-quality providers of mental health services in America. The company currently operates in ten States and partners with over 35 health plans, meaning nearly 50 million lives have access to them.

"One of our main differentiators is we see patients with severe illness such as people with bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and major depression. We're like a private practice in that our providers see the patients continuously and provide continuity care over a long period, and our providers mostly work for us full time."

REACHING THOSE WHO NEED YOU THE MOST. For Thomas, trading a successful medical career for startups was not an easy decision. Still, his assurance in the need for the service and confidence in the technology's ability to reach marginalized folks kept him driven during the company's gestation. "There's a sense of pride in building something from scratch, and that now we service over 20,000 patients, over 50% of which are members of BIPOC communities. But, of course, there's always room for improvement."

Thomas has always been attracted to helping others, though Valera Health predominantly focuses on psychiatry, he developed a sense of comprehensive whole person healthcare as a primary care provider. He traces this characteristic back to his family, who managed a Chinese restaurant throughout his childhood. Though coming out to them was tough, it ultimately helped him live his life authentically, personally, and professionally.

Valera prides itself on intentional inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community, while outside of work, he volunteers as a member of the quality committee at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York and fundraises for various organizations, including the Trevor Project. "I think authenticity creates impact and purpose. I've always been honest, upfront, and open to my leadership team, staff, and the people I interact with. It's certainly positively impacted building a leadership team at Valera.

“The more honest I am about my story, the more certain folks will be attracted to the company's culture. It's important to me to always try and live an authentic life."

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.