« December 2018 Issue

Partnering With Advocates To Do PHANtastic Work

By: Antoinette Kraus, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN)


Community Catalyst has stood side by side with the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) since our founding in 2007. A small group of concerned advocates came together to create PHAN out of the Consumer Voices for Coverage grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. None of these groups had been exclusively focused on health care. The coalition began with dedicated staff and a simple mission: increase access to coverage in Pennsylvania. The need for a knowledgeable, experienced source for building policy expertise, capacity and strengthening grassroots advocacy was apparent, and Community Catalyst filled that role.

Over the next decade, Community Catalyst became an integral part of PHAN’s growth, not only in size and budget, but also in thinking beyond access to the next generation of health care issues. They have always supported us in developing and maintaining local expertise in all the areas that matter most to Pennsylvania consumers. As a trusted partner, Community Catalyst helped our board and staff think through how to grow and sustain our work and make strategic decisions that were not always easy. They helped us expand from a loosely assembled coalition with one grant to an independent organization with 11 staff and an operating budget of over one million dollars.

As we think about all of the work that needs to be done, we look to Community Catalyst to help us push the consumer voice to the forefront around cost, quality and equity in spaces that are often dominated by industry voices. They partner with us to elevate consumer voices and make sure they are heard by decision makers and policy experts. With Community Catalyst and its Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation increasingly focusing on the social determinants of health, we have been able to elevate our work around housing and health with national audiences. Our grassroots organizing with older adults has strengthened the senior voice at state and health plan decision-making tables. Older adults and family caregivers connected through PHAN’s Senior Voice Leadership Network learn to self-advocate, empower their communities with information, and influence legislative and administrative policy around the quality and person-centeredness of long-term care. Community Catalyst provides us with the policy expertise consumer advocates often lack and helps us understand the deeper dynamics of health system transformation. They also help strengthen our messaging to partners and to funders to sustain the work.

Just as we have grown over the past decade, so too has Community Catalyst. We have a richer movement of both state and national advocates advancing consumer priorities because of the work Community Catalyst has done over the past 20 years. We look forward to working together tirelessly over the next decade to achieving a health care system that truly puts patients at the center of high quality and equitable care.

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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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