So many of our most pressing, systemic issues are exacerbated by, or entirely rooted in, inequity. How can those leading solutions challenge the unequal systems in the groundwater of key issues like climate change, good education, and accessible health care? What can those leading efforts draw from their personal experiences to create viable solutions? What does it really take to make change at the community, national, and international levels?
On Tuesday, March 28, 2023 awardees of the 2023 McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund – all Fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network – engaged in a rapid-fire conversation on their work tackling distinct systemic challenges. Each were inspired to take action by their personal experiences with the issues.
From understanding how important Black History is to American education and the well-being of Black students; to the revolutionary potential of healthcare digitization in India; to the urgent need for new relationships between neighborhoods and police; to designing a system that incentivizes a focus on service and equity in medical school; to engaging communities on how they can reclaim public space while cleaning their water and air with micro-forests; the Fellows leading these organizations all seek to address deep-rooted challenges that perpetuate inequities in society.
We invite you to learn from their insights informed by leading early-stage organizations, including how they weave their personal experiences into their actions.
Swasth Alliance | India
What kind of tech platform would it take to deliver universal healthcare for 1.4 billion Indians? CEO Dr. Ajay Nair (Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellow) founded Swasth Alliance during the pandemic to support overworked hospitals with telehealth services for patients and physicians. Swasth has since created a nationwide network of providers, insurers, agencies and NGOs and an open-source digital platform for patients to access it all, building the conditions for a cohesive health system.
The Hear Foundation | United States
When Leon Ford (Civil Society Fellow) was shot and paralyzed by police, he spent 10 years not only processing his own experience but engaging in activism to create a safe Pittsburgh grounded in genuine relationships between police and community. With Pittsburgh’s former Chief of Police, he co-founded The Hear Foundation, the first and only nonprofit in Pittsburgh dedicated to collaborating with community leaders, police, residents, and the city to create a safe, thriving community for all. The Hear Foundation funds opportunities for residents and police to work together to build strong relationships and address issues such as gun violence, trauma, and workforce development.
theOtherForest | Lebanon
As urbanization and climate change threaten people in dense, polluted spaces, regenerative architect and forestmaker Adib Dada (Middle East Leadership Initiative Fellow) launched theOtherForest to plant dense microforests in degraded urban spaces and playgrounds. Currently with 12 projects across Lebanon (and expanding to Saudi Arabia and the UAE), these ‘Miyawaki’ forests become self-sustaining after 3 years. They remove pollution, reduce urban heat, and improve water infrastructure in addition to providing gathering places for displaced communities of humans and other organisms.
Reconstruction US | United States
Former DC schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson (Pahara Fellow) founded Reconstruction US to provide specialized courses in Black history and culture with the goal of reinforcing Black students’ positive vision of themselves in the world and ensuring that all students understand the contributions of the Black community to American history. Reconstruction aims to triple the number of students served and explore new delivery methods to share its unique curricular offerings.
Aequitas Health | United States
In the competitive world of medical school, awards and distinctions can make or break careers—but no recognition exists for improving health equity through serving your community. Dr. Benson Hsu (Health Innovators Fellow) founded Aequitas Health to recognize and develop future physician leaders who want to address the US’s glaring health inequities. They aim to expand the program across the nation by establishing chapters in 5-10 medical schools annually.
The McNulty Foundation established the Catalyst Fund at the Aspen Institute in 2017 to provide unrestricted support to promising ventures led by Fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Having supported over 20 recipients from around the world, the Catalyst Fund boosts leaders and their organizations with funding as well as non-monetary support to reach the next level of impact. The Fund has received over $1.3 million in contributions, including a matching grant from the McNulty Foundation.