WASHINGTON, DC – (Oct. 17, 2014) — On Monday, October 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM, the White House will honor “Champions of Change” who are leading local efforts to advance the goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These Champions have distinguished themselves by raising awareness about ACA and helping countless Americans sign up for high-quality, affordable health insurance. The program will feature remarks from Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and other Administration officials.
The White House Office of Communications notes that the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/live. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WHChamps. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
Peter Yang, Atlanta, GA
Peter Yang is a program coordinator and Certified Application Counselor at the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS). During the last Open Enrollment period, Peter led and coordinated a multilingual team to provide outreach and enrollment assistance in Georgia for the immigrant and refugee communities in 16 different languages. By collaborating with many other groups and coalitions, CPACS was able to bridge a gap in access for the community by organizing town halls, enrollment summits, workshops, community booths, press releases, translations, and various forms of media, ultimately providing assistance to over 5,000 individuals with limited English language skills.
Vanessa Abernathy, Fairmont, NC
Vanessa Abernathy is an Enroll America Fellow. Since August 2013, she has worked on the Get Covered America campaign, spreading the word about the Affordable Care Act, providing information to consumers about the importance of health insurance, and promoting insurance enrollment. Vanessa has worked in small towns and rural areas of North Carolina, conducting door-to-door campaigns, speaking to church congregations, organizing community partnerships, and helping partners organize enrollment events.
Niiobli Armah IV, Hyattsville, MD
Niiobli Armah IV is Director of Health Programs for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In that role, he is responsible for managing the NAACP’s national policy and advocacy work primarily focused on childhood obesity, HIV/AIDS, and health care. Niiobli has a passion for grassroots community engagement, public health, and public policy. He has spent the last seven years working in and across industries and communities addressing urban health issues. Niiobli’s personal mission is to lead innovative work in the continuum where policy is created and where it impacts the community.
Andrew Cray, Washington, DC (Posthumously)
Andrew Cray was a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress. He is being honored posthumously for his work to connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans with comprehensive and affordable health insurance. While at the Center for American Progress, Andrew helped launch Out2Enroll, a collaborative effort with the Sellers Dorsey Foundation and the Federal Agencies Project designed to connect LGBT Americans with their new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. Andrew also worked with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that the transgender community was protected in the ACA’s non-discrimination provisions and worked with various state governments to remove discriminatory exclusions from health insurance plans.
Bill Forbes, Austin, TX
Bill Forbes is a volunteer with the Get Covered America campaign of Enroll America. For the past year, he has worked in Austin, Texas, educating uninsured consumers about their healthcare options under the Affordable Care Act and putting them in touch with local service organizations that provide personal, hands-on enrollment assistance. Bill was part of the effort that helped over 734,000 Texans obtain health insurance—many for the first time in their lives. During the most recent Open Enrollment period, Bill helped organize volunteers and partners in the small- and mid-sized cities of West Texas to ensure that Texans were covered.
Joshua Gray, Mt. Rainer, MD
Joshua Gray is special assistant to the Chair of the Service Employees International (SEIU) Union’s Healthcare Division. In this role, he focuses on Affordable Care Act enrollment in African American, Hispanic, and Latino communities by building community partnerships that help close health equity gaps. Before coming to SEIU, Joshua worked to educate young people on voting and civic participation. A native of Oakland, California, Joshua graduated from Howard University in 2005.
Khadija Gurnah, Middletown, CT
Khadija Gurnah is the Program Manager for the American Muslim Health Professionals’ (AMHP) Affordable Care Act outreach and enrollment efforts. Khadija earned her Master’s in Health Management from the Yale School of Public Health. She has worked in community health, focusing on inequities in healthcare delivery, and has published papers and articles on healthcare delivery to minority populations. Under Khadija’s direction, AMHP launched the first national grassroots initiative of its kind in the Muslim American community. With a limited budget and only seven on-the-ground organizers, AMHP mobilized 81 partner institutions, resulting in thousands of enrollments and newly formed relationships between clergy and civic leaders across religious, ethnic, and racial lines.
Pat Halpin-Murphy, Ambler, PA
Pat Halpin-Murphy is the President and Founder of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC). A creative and effective women’s health advocate, Pat founded the PBCC in June 1993. The PBCC extends public awareness of breast cancer and works to increase public and private funding for research and high-quality screening, diagnosis, and treatment.Pat’s dedication to improving the lives of women has led to dramatic legislative changes in Pennsylvania, including mandatory insurance coverage for reconstructive surgery after mastectomy, mammograms for uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 49, and extension of Medicaid coverage to uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. She is committed to educating the public about the Affordable Care Act and sharing the information with individuals and groups across the state.
Mark LeBeau, Sacramento, CA
Mark LeBeau is the Executive Director at the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB) and a citizen of the Pit River Nation enrolled in the Illmawi Band. He has worked at CRIHB since 1999 in numerous capacities, including as a public health programs manager, proposal writer, director of the traditional Indian health program, health education specialist, and the health policy analyst. He earned his doctorate at University of California, Davis, and wrote a dissertation focused on planning and administering tribal healthcare services in California. He has served on the Pit River Election Committee, on the Pit River Health Services Board of Directors, and in Congressman Frank Pallone’s office in Washington, DC, working on American Indian/Alaska Native legislative initiatives to benefit Indian country.
Jamie Markus, Cheyenne, WY
Jamie Markus is the Library Development Manager at the Wyoming State Library. He believes that libraries are dynamic institutions that provide equitable access to a vast array of information resources, promote lifelong learning, and act as cultural incubators through their programming and outreach efforts. Jamie took it upon himself to create opportunities within the library system to have healthcare outreach and enrollment events. He also created a video about why it is important for Wyoming residents to get healthcare coverage.
Joe Pena, Miami Beach, FL
Joe Pena is the Director of Federal Relations for Miami Dade College (MDC), the higher education institution with the largest campus-based enrollment in the United States. As part of the College’s effort to disseminate information on the Affordable Care Act, Joe coordinated a college-wide initiative focused on assisting MDC students, MDC faculty, and the South Florida community to obtain high-quality, affordable health insurance. Joe helped develop a series of successful educational outreach efforts, which were hosted on multiple campuses and venues, providing key information and enrollment assistance. This initiative made a significant impact on the local community, improving the access to healthcare for thousands of residents in Miami Dade County and throughout South Florida.
Joan Serda, Macon, GA
Joan Serda is the Assistant Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas South Central Community. In this role, Sister Joan works to promote the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy. A retired educator and administrator in Catholic schools, she decided to volunteer with Get Covered America to help those who do not have health insurance learn about the Affordable Care Act. Joan continues to work tirelessly to reach out to members of the local community about health insurance, signing up more and more Americans in central Georgia each and every day.
Cecelia Smaha, Macon, GA
Cecelia Smaha is an Associate of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas South Central Community. Cecelia is retired from the Georgia Department of Labor as an Employment Services Specialist, as well as from the Bibb County School System. From personal experience with illness, Cecelia knows the importance of gaining access to preventive healthcare and high-quality, affordable health insurance. Over the past 12 months, she has hosted countless events in local churches to get more Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act.