The Health Activist Expo was the culmination of the 10-week long Salk Health Activist Fellowship that began in mid-September. In August, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation put out a call for applications and received over 50 applicants who pitched their ideas for changing the health landscape. The JHF fellowship team whittled down the pool of applicants and selected 25 extremely passionate individuals, both students and working professionals, representing diverse universities and organizations in the greater Pittsburgh area.
Over the 10-week period, Salk Fellows expanded their activist arsenals with skill-building sessions focused on investigative reporting and storytelling to mobilize stakeholders, being an advocate at work, and developing strategies and tactics to change policy. In addition to these sessions, the Health Activist Network team put together Health Activist Meetups to give fellows the opportunity to interact with invited speakers in a roundtable setting. Following the roundtable discussions, the venue opened up to Health Activist Network members for formal presentations. These meetups featured Margo Wootan, PhD, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Bruce Vladeck, former director of the Health Care Financing Administration (now called the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).
With exposure to local and national health activists, the Salk Fellows began to develop their own health campaigns, which were showcased at the Health Activist Expo at the August Wilson Center on November 30. Amidst the buzzing of live music and hor d’eurves in the room, the Fellows shared their projects and drew in more than 170 attendees with their posters, printed resources, and props. Paul Gough from the Pittsburgh Business Times attended the Expo as well. Check out his piece covering the Fellows and their projects here.
For a great summary of the Health Activist Network in 2017, you might want to read Karen Feinstein's Health Affairs Blog article.