Investing in community leaders is essential
Applications to the 2024 Restuccia Health Justice Fellowship are now open!
In 1998, we were founded on the belief that people, not health care companies, should be at the center of decisions about our health system.
Since then, we’ve joined forces with partner organizations across the country to make big improvements for people’s health. We’ve made the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a reality, expanded Medicaid coverage to millions, improved the Medicare program, and secured victories at the local and state level to make care more affordable and accessible for everyone. Together, we’ve built a stronger advocacy infrastructure — incubating organizations in 9 states, and building a robust network of partners working together across more than 45 states (and growing).
All of that progress is our foundation for even bigger change — change that will bring us closer to health justice.
We believe that a health system rooted in race equity and health justice is essential to a world where we are all more free and healthy.
We know we have a lot of work ahead to make that system possible.
Today’s health system puts profit over people. People across the country struggle to afford health coverage, get care from community health providers they trust, and navigate confusing billing processes.
Because of racism and other forms of oppression, the health system disproportionately hurts systemically excluded communities, including Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander communities, and LGBTQ+ people, older adults, women, immigrants, and people with disabilities.
When people do not have access to clean air and water, to affordable housing and safe communities, and to living wages — it has an even bigger impact on their ability to stay healthy.
That must change. More importantly, it can change. But to create a system that is accountable to all people, we need to center the people hurt the most by the health system today.
That’s why Community Catalyst partners with local, state, and national organizations and leaders to leverage and build power so that people are at the center of important decisions about health and health care — whether they are made by health care executives, in state houses, or on Capitol Hill.
Through a mix of rigorous policy analysis and research, multi-state advocacy campaigns, strategic communications, organizing, and coalition building, we work towards change grounded in community leadership. Together with partners, we’re building a powerful, united movement with a shared vision of and strategy for a health system accountable to all people.
When Kate Villers founded Community Catalyst in 1998, her goal was simple yet profound. She wanted to bring real community experience and expertise to wherever important decisions about health care were being made.
From the start, Villers knew that Rob Restuccia was essential in bringing this vision to bear. As a founding leader at Health Care For All, Restuccia had fostered a potent, community-led advocacy movement that led Massachusetts to serve as the national model for affordable, equitable health care.
With Villers as president and board chair and Restuccia as executive director of Community Catalyst, they took the successes of Massachusetts to the national stage.
Under Restuccia’s leadership, Community Catalyst spurred community-driven advocacy efforts for better, more equitable health care in 40+ states. With support from major foundations, in its first decade Community Catalyst raised $40 million to build the movement of organizations engaged in the fight for local, state, and national health reforms across the country. Ultimately, this network of community leaders would help pass the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 — and then rally fiercely to protect it despite more than 60 attempts by Congress to repeal the law.
Restuccia served as Executive Director of Community Catalyst for 18 years, until he stepped down in 2018 due to pancreatic cancer. He passed away shortly thereafter. His parting words were, as ever, as an organizer and visionary: “I can imagine my grandchildren one day living in a society where health care is a right and not a privilege, because of the many people who will continue to do the work that has been so important to me.”
In 2019, Emily Stewart, then Vice President of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood, joined Community Catalyst as its new executive director to build on Restuccia’s legacy and Villers’ vision.
So far, Stewart has led the organization forward, with a bold new mission, vision, and strategic plan — a blueprint for Community Catalyst and how it will work with partners across the country to push for a health system rooted in race equity and health justice.
To build the power of people to create a health system rooted in race equity and health justice, and a society where health is a right for all.
Everyone has what they need to be healthy and our system is shaped by and accountable to all people.