« December 2018 Issue

A Bridge to Effective State Advocacy

By: David Adler, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Lori Grubstein, Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


It would be hard to imagine what the last decade of health advocacy work at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) would look like without Community Catalyst. They have been a crucial bridge between RWJF and state-level advocates working to ensure that consumers have a voice in major decisions about how health care is organized and paid for at the state and federal levels.

In 2008, RWJF launched Consumer Voices for Coverage with Community Catalyst. This was a groundbreaking program which supported state-based consumer health advocacy networks, increasing their capacity and enabling them to participate meaningfully in health care coverage reform efforts alongside other key stakeholders such as businesses, hospitals, insurers and the government. The program supported consumer health advocacy in efforts to expand coverage at the state-level, encourage the federal government to find a national solution for the coverage problem and ensure consumer-friendly implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including efforts to promote enrollment.

As state health policy agendas grew more expansive, moving beyond coverage to larger payment and delivery systems reforms, Community Catalyst has been a crucial link for RWJF to make sure consumer advocates are included in state-level policy decisions. Whether it is ensuring consumers are represented in how states move their Medicaid programs to managed care, figuring out how to best collect and use data to address equity, or creating better linkages between housing and health care, Community Catalyst has helped RWJF find and support advocates who can ensure that consumers are an active part of these conversations.

As maximizing enrollment in health coverage continues to be an important issue to focus on, Community Catalyst is leading an effort to partner with other national organizations that engage consumers to develop and disseminate enrollment information for the 2018 open enrollment period.

Community Catalyst has been a trusted partner in helping RWJF support state-level advocacy that demonstrates resilience and strategic flexibility, and has done so by having one foot solidly in the advocacy world and one foot in the world of philanthropy.

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Please take a moment and read this inspiring message from our former executive director, Rob Restuccia.

We hope it will inspire you to make a contribution to support our next 20 years of impact and advocacy for access to quality, affordable health care for everyone!


Katherine Howitt, former Associate Director of Policy, was highlighted in Kaiser Health News discussing how the midterm election results showed health care was important to voters, prompting Medicaid expansion in more states.

Research Director of the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation (the Center), Marc A. Cohen, PhD, co-wrote a blog for Health Affairs that takes an in-depth look into how motivation and self-determination lead to better health outcomes and lower health care costs for patients with medical and long-term services and supports.

Community Catalyst Board Member Joia Crear-Perry, MD, wrote an article in Essence Magazine explaining the connection between racism and infant mortality among Black women and children.

Center Director Ann Hwang, MD was quoted in an article discussing how advanced primary care leads to better results in accountable care organizations in Fierce Healthcare.

The Center named Elena Hung, founder of Little Lobbyists, as its Speak Up for Better Health Award winner and honored three others whose advocacy has improved the lives of people with complex health and social needs. The honorees were mentioned in both Salem News: “Business Briefcase” and Corvallis Gazette-Times: “At Our Best (September 15).”

Join us in welcoming:

Tori Bilcik, Communications and Development Associate; Dana Clarke, Director of Human Services; Alexis Garcia, Program Associate; Laura Hale, State Advocacy Manager, Dental Access Project; Myriam Hernandez Jennings, Consumer and Community Engagement Advisor; HaiYen Nguyen, Accounting Associate; Nina Oishi, Program Associate; Madison Tallant, Program Associate, Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation; Sarah Trieweiler, Executive Assistant; and Jill Wohl, Director of Development.

We are delighted to share the following promotions:

Tera Bianchi to Program Director, Dental Access Project; Ashley Blackburn to Policy Manager; Jessica Curtis to Senior Advisor; Lucy Dagneau to Project Leader for Together for Medicaid in addition to her role as Associate Director of Communications; and Eva Marie Stahl to Associate Director of Policy.

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