Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders

An RWJF National Program

Dates of Program: 1991–2014

Field of Work: Honoring leaders who improve health and access to care in underserved populations

Community Health Leaders give voice to the needs of underserved groups and bring a perspective that larger organizations, including RWJF, may overlook.

Synopsis of the Work: The Robert Wood Johnson Community Health Leaders program, established in 1991, has honored 206 unsung and unusually resourceful people working in communities to improve health and access to care for underserved and often disenfranchised populations.

Key Results

  • Through 2012, 206 leaders from 47 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia have received the Community Health Leaders award. Awards funds have expanded current projects, provided seed funding for new local initiatives, supported training, and served other purposes.

    Among many other examples, leaders have:

    • Provided information and resources for cancer patients living in rural areas of California (Sara O’Donnell, see profile)
    • Created sports programs for Chicago youth to keep them safe from gang violence (Joe DiCara, MD, MPH, see profile)
    • Organized Asian citizens in the San Francisco Bay Area to assert their right to health care (Sherry Hirota, see profile)

    For a complete listing of leaders by year and state, and links to some of their biographies, see the Community Health Leaders website.

  • The national program office provides Community Health Leaders with technical assistance, coaching, networking, and other opportunities to learn. This guidance helps them expand their projects, promote their work in local media, and gain greater recognition in local and national funding communities.

Guidance from the national program office helps community leaders expand their projects, promote their work in local media, and gain greater recognition from funders.