McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund Awarded to Emerging Organizations Challenging Unequal Systems

March 13, 2023

Five promising leaders inspired by personal experience are driving change across the US, India and Lebanon and will receive unrestricted funding to expand and scale their impact

Contact: Abiola Makinwa
Program Associate, McNulty Foundation

New York, NY, March 13, 2023––The recipients of the 2023 McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund—awarded annually to early-stage organizations that have demonstrated significant momentum with innovative models of change—were announced on Monday by the McNulty Foundation and Aspen Institute. A total of $100,000 will be awarded across five recipients hailing from Lebanon, India, and the United States. The recipients will be featured in a rapid-fire, virtual conversation on Tuesday, March 28th at 11:00am ET exploring what it takes to create change in their communities.

While the five organizations are tackling distinct systemic challenges, they are all led by individuals whose deep expertise and personal experience have given them insight into how they might be solved. From emphasizing the importance of Black History in American education; to spurring the revolutionary potential of healthcare digitization in India; to addressing the urgent need for new relationships between neighborhoods and police; to incentivizing a focus on equity for aspiring physicians; to empowering communities to reclaim and regenerate public space with micro-forests; these organizations all seek to address deep-rooted challenges that perpetuate inequities in society.

“Each of these leaders has unique insights, whether from public service, business, medicine or architecture, which have led them to create and champion innovative solutions that get at the heart of these difficult issues. The Catalyst Fund aims to shine a light on both their leadership and their model of change, so that others can learn from their example,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, President of the McNulty Foundation and Trustee of the Aspen Institute.

Meet the 2023 McNulty Prize Catalyst Fund awardees:

Swasth Alliance | India
What kind of tech platform would it take to deliver universal healthcare for 1.4 billion Indians? CEO Dr. Ajay Nair 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 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 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 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 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 25 recipients from around the world, the Catalyst Fund boosts leaders and their organizations with funding and non-monetary support to reach the next level of impact. The Fund has received over $1.3 million in contributions from David Blood, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Nancy & George Walker Foundation, and many more, as well as a matching grant from the McNulty Foundation, all honoring the legacy of John P. McNulty.

About the John P. & Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation
The McNulty Foundation inspires, develops, and drives leaders to solve the most critical challenges of our time. The McNulty Prize Catalyst builds on more than a decade of impact with the John P. McNulty Prize, a $450,000 annual award that recognizes three Winners with moral courage, a vision for change, and a track record of bold and lasting impact. McNulty Prize Winners are chosen by an international jury that has included Madeleine Albright, Olara Otunnu, Brizio Biondi-Morra, Darren Walker, Mary Robinson, and Richard Branson. The McNulty Prize and Catalyst Fund are given in partnership with the Aspen Institute, to recognize exceptional leadership ventures undertaken by Fellows of the Aspen Institute. For more information, visit Follow @McNultyFound on Twitter and @McNultyFoundation on Instagram.

The Aspen Global Leadership Network’s (AGLN) is a growing, worldwide community of more than 3,000 high-integrity, entrepreneurial leaders from over 60 countries who share a commitment to values-based leadership and to using their creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times. Because of their demonstrated accomplishment and abilities, they have been selected to join one of 13 geographic or sector-specific AGLN Fellowships around the world. Fellows convene annually at the AGLN’s flagship event, the Resnick Aspen Action Forum. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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