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Gretchen selected to join Ambassadors for Health Equity (2019-2020)

March 6, 2019

Health equity is achieved when everyone, regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status, has a fair and just opportunity for health — physical, mental, economic, and social well-being. Attaining this goal means working not only within the health-care system, but across the many systems and institutions that affect how families live, work, learn, and play.

Cultural narratives are powerful, often underutilized tools for promoting policy change. Especially today, when fear, anger, and xenophobia have taken root in the public discourse — the story of who we are and what we value as a nation has never been more important.

Narrative change and systems change are at the core of the Ambassadors for Health Equity fellowship program, a joint venture of PolicyLink and FSG that is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The ambassadors are selected from a wide range of for-profit, nonprofit, and cultural fields. Throughout their fellowship year, they will learn about a Culture of Health, how health is more than health care, and how to share what they learn with others in their fields and beyond. They will also forge alliances among themselves as they collaborate to promote health equity.

The Ambassadors for Health Equity Fellowship

2016-2017: The first Ambassadors for Health Equity cohort included 13 national leaders who began meeting in 2016. They met over the course of 12 months, through five in-person convenings and several virtual sessions to consider how to foster and encourage environments where everyone has the opportunity for the best possible health and well-being.

2019-2020: The second cohort of Ambassadors for Health Equity includes 23 fellows whose tenure began in February 2019 and will continue through February 2020. The program is again conducted in partnership with FSG, and generously supported by RWJF, whose vision for a national Culture of Health drives the initiative.

These twenty-three leaders from nonprofit organizations, private sector, arts, and philanthropy have been selected to take part in the year-long program to embolden them to share ideas and experiences, forge new alliances, generate new solutions, and promote a Culture of Health within their own work and across networks. The fellowship experience will be guided by three health equity experts and two program alumni, who will provide mentorship, strategic direction, and curriculum content for the program.

Through in-person meetings, a series of webinars, and online support, the ambassadors will:

Gain a comprehensive understanding of the intersections of their work with health equity and be able to make the case for how that work contributes to desired outcomes for population health;
Learn new frameworks and approaches to seek allies, partners, and even investors across systems or issues not normally engaged;
Build a network with other system-level leaders across issue areas to exchange best practices, lessons, and tools, to take action in new ways that create win-win benefits.

Meet the new Ambassadors for Health Equity:

Dorian O. Burton
Dwayne Marsh
Gretchen Beesing

Gretchen Beesing, CEO, Catalyst Miami

Gretchen Beesing is the chief executive officer of Catalyst Miami. Beesing joined Catalyst in 2007, directing civic leadership and advocacy programs for more than five years, before becoming CEO in 2013. During her time at Catalyst, Beesing has integrated the organization’s services into an effective and empowering financial coaching platform that offers asset-building strategies at each stage of a client’s journey to prosperity. She effectively transitioned Catalyst from a financial literacy provider to a financial capability thought leader, engaging in many national partnerships and demonstration products, including Mission Asset Fund’s Lending Circles. Other accomplishments include conceiving and piloting the Miami Thrives executive leadership program for community development practitioners, the first of its kind in South Florida. Under Beesing's leadership, Catalyst hosted Miami’s first Poverty Solutions Summit, attended by more than 300 service providers, activists, and Miami-Dade County officials.

Beesing serves as chair of the Board of Directors for the South Florida Community Development Coalition. She participates in JPMorgan Chase’s Community Advisory Board (Florida), the Florida Policy Institute’s Community Advisory Board, Resilient 305 Steering Committee, and other advisory boards. Beesing was a 2015 American Express NGen Fellow and is an alumnus of the Federal Reserve Board’s Community Leaders Forum. She is a licensed clinical social worker with degrees from New York University and Kalamazoo College.


Ana Garcia-Ashley
Mindy Fullilove
Otho E Kerr III
Shireen Malekafzali
Victor Rubin


The fellowship will support our organization to infuse our work with a health equity lens, and examine how we can better contribute to systems change.

Originally posted on Policy


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