Kate Villers, president and founder of Community Catalyst, received a special Consumer Health Advocate award in Washington D.C. last week alongside her husband Philip Villers for their vision and leadership in building and nurturing a health care reform movement. Mr. Villers co-founded Families USA with her and now serves as its president. 

In accepting the award at the Health Action conference sponsored by Families USA, Ms. Villers talked about the important network of state and local advocates Community Catalyst works with to shape both national policy and more “under-the-radar” reforms in their states—advocacy that Ms. Villers said may well be the future of federal reform.

“I’ve never lost the vision and the experience of working with these groups, and the sacrifices people made, the skills they developed in being direct advocates for changing systems that not only affected themselves but their peers,” she told the luncheon crowd, “and I feel that that sense of organizing a base, of representing a constituency every day, has imbued all the work of Families USA and Community Catalyst.”

“I see this as a symbolic award for the movement that we’ve all built together,” Mr. Villers said. “It is in no small measure because of the movement we’ve built together that we will get health reform this year,” he said.

“There may be two or three or people from a state here, but they in turn are connected with up to 300 organizations” in their states, Ms. Villers said. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg—us here—representing the movement that has been built,” she said, a movement that is “now a force in shaping federal policy.”

The full awards ceremony is available to watch here (Kate Viller’s remarks begin at 27:08).