Ambassadors for Health Equity

Health equity is achieved when everyone, regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status, has the 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. Building a Culture of Health, where everyone in our diverse society can pursue a healthier life, will require new allies from the public, private, and social sectors.

That is why PolicyLink has teamed up with FSG to launch the Ambassadors for Health Equity Fellowship, a joint venture funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that will bring together a cohort of innovative and influential leaders from various sectors outside of the health field to engage with and advance systemic solutions for health equity. This fellowship is one of three initiatives within Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Open Box initiative.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Open Box Initiative

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Open Box initiative aims to advance health equity by convening leaders from a variety of sectors to promote policies, practices, and systems that offer opportunities for everyone to pursue a healthier life. Fostering a Culture of Health means focusing on the grander whole of what being healthy and staying healthy means: ensuring students are ready to learn, workers are able to be productive, and families can thrive across every community. By motivating leaders to work toward this common goal, the Open Box project hopes to shift thinking away from the view of inequity as an intractable problem and toward solutions that build health equity.

The Fellowship

Thirteen leaders from the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy have been selected to take part in a year-long program that will empower 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, who will provide mentorship, strategic direction, and curriculum content for the program. 

Through five in-person meetings, a series of webinars, and online supports, the Ambassadors will:

  • engage meaningfully with other system leaders who bring expertise in key areas of health equity;
  • share in the impact, values, and equity networks of PolicyLink and FSG;
  • become better equipped to identify and talk about connections between their field and health;
  • elevate and disseminate system change solutions to promote health for low-income people, and people of color, and other groups experiencing inequities; and
  • commit to fostering policies and practices around health equity in their own organizations.


Since 2001, Mr. Bell has been spearheading a national movement to address racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system. 

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Jeff Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music.

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As a leader within the larger Black Male Achievement (BMA) field, Shawn Dove has committed his life's work to expanding access and opportunity for Black men and boys...

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Denise Fairchild is the inaugural President of Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), a national nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. with affiliates in major urban centers across the United States.

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Radhika Fox is the Chief Executive Officer of the US Water Alliance, a national nonprofit organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable water future for all. 

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Ana Garcia-Ashley is the first woman of color in America to head an international community-organizing network.  As Executive Director of Gamaliel, she spearheads efforts to assist grassroots leaders...

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Dr. Sarah Kastelic is Alutiiq, an enrolled member of the Native Village of Ouzinkie. In January 2011, Sarah joined the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)...

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Otho Kerr is a partner Encourage Capital. Encourage Capital is an investment firm that seeks to change the way investment capital is used to solve critical environmental and social problems.

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Steven McCullough is a leader in community development. In Arlington, Virginia, he is the chief operating officer of Communities In Schools (CIS)...

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Nela Richardson is the chief economist at Redfin, the national real estate brokerage. At Redfin, Nela leads a team of data scientists and real estate journalists to compile the most up to date analysis of the real estate market.

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President and CEO at Reliance Methods and author of Just Change: How to Collaborate for Lasting Impact

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Michael is a  movement-builder, activist, storyteller and proud father. He is CEO of SOZE, a creative agency focused on social impact campaigns and triple bottom line companies. He is a respected leader in the new social justice movement...

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Former CEO, MBK Alliance

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Health Equity Experts

Dolores Acevedo-Garcia, Samuel F. and Rose B. Gingold Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Director of the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University

Acevedo-Garcia's research focuses on the social determinants (e.g. residential segregation, immigrant adaptation) of racial/ethnic inequities in health; the role of social policies (e.g. housing policies, immigrant policies) in reducing those inequities; and the health and well-being of children with special needs.

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Anthony B. Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH, Senior Vice President of Healthy Communities, California Endowment

Iton joined The Endowment in October 2009. Prior to his appointment at The Endowment, Iton served since 2003 as both the director and County Health Officer for the Alameda County Public Health Department. In that role, he oversaw the creation of an innovative public health practice designed to eliminate health disparities by tackling the root causes of poor health that limit quality of life and lifespan in many of California’s low-income communities.

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Mildred Thompson, Consultant, PolicyLink

Mildred Thompson is a consultant, trainer, and advocate working with others to change environments, systems, and policies to promote good health and enhance quality of life for all. As owner of MT Consulting and Design, Mildred seeks to identify resources, supports, and innovative practices that can lead to positive change. At the core of her work is the belief that everyone benefits from a more equitable, inclusive, and health-promoting society.

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About PolicyLink

PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity by Lifting Up What Works®. Our work is grounded in the conviction that equity — just and fair inclusion — must drive all policy decisions.

About FSG

FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. Through customized consulting services, innovative thought leadership, and support for learning communities, we help foundations, businesses, nonprofits, and governments around the world accelerate progress by reimagining social change.

About RWJF

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Support for this program was provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.