2017 Consumer Health Impact Award Recipients
Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award
Jeff is the executive director of Georgia Equality, an organization that works to advance fairness, safety and opportunity for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities throughout Georgia. Jeff began advocating on LGBT and AIDS related issues as a college student in the mid-1980s and has continued his advocacy on these issues since that time. He has been involved in a wide variety or grassroots and legislative advocacy campaigns and has served as either an executive director or board member to a number of local and national organizations working on issues related to gay and transgender rights, access to healthcare, community empowerment and HIV/AIDS. Jeff has received numerous awards and recognition for both his advocacy and nonprofit work from organizations such as the National Center for Human Rights Education, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Atlanta City Council, The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, ACLU of Georgia and several local publications and organizations within the LGBT and HIV communities. He is a current board member of ProGeorgia, a membership organization of nonprofits focused on strategic civic engagement activities, and Equality Federation, a national organization dedicated to winning LGBTQ equality in the communities we call home.
He served as a Grand Marshal of the Atlanta Pride Parade and has been named one of the most influential Atlantans by Atlanta Magazine and the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Community Impact Award
In 2004, the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, Inc. (Safety Net) was created to assist the Chatham County Commission to better meet the health care needs of uninsured and underinsured residents. It is a county-wide collaborative of key stakeholders, including providers, government representatives, advocates, funders, and consumers. Safety Net’s mission is to develop an infrastructure to maximize access and utilization of affordable health services and to leverage available resources to assure improved health status for our residents. Our goal is to strengthen the infrastructure of and improve access to primary and behavioral health care, build capacity within our community’s safety net system, and link the uninsured and underinsured to a medical home. We strive to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities for Chatham County’s uninsured and underinsured by working together on common problems.
Since 2006, Safety Net has conducted an annual evaluation to identify existing resources and gaps in the community’s healthcare delivery system to help inform future investments by the county, outside funders, and local stakeholders. This annual evaluation helps stakeholders better understand new issues and challenges, and find opportunities to maximize local resources.
In 2008, Safety Net established Chatham Health Link (CHL), Georgia’s first Health Information Exchange (HIE). Original CHL members included free health clinics, our hospital systems and Federally Qualified Health Centers. In 2014, CHL merged with Georgia Regional Academic Community Health Information Exchange (GRAChIE), which benefits close to 2 million patients. Safety Net has been incorporating non-traditional partners, including behavioral health, HIV+, and incarcerated populations into the HIE through CHL to ensure we are working to improve outcomes and lower costs for our most vulnerable and underserved communities.
Other key programs include the Coastal Campaign for Healthy Kids, where we have served over 3,700 children and their families since August 2014 by providing free enrollment assistance for Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids benefits. Our Behavioral Health Program is addressing unequal access and outcomes among vulnerable populations by a) facilitating a living directory to connect high-needs, underserved individuals with appropriate local behavioral health resources, b) conducting a county-wide evaluation of child and adult behavioral health needs, and, c) implementing a community-wide suicide prevention program.
Community Impact Award
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities is the state’s leader in advancing public policy on behalf of persons with developmental disabilities. GCDD was established in 1971 with a mission to promote public policy that creates an integrated community life for persons with developmental disabilities, their families, friends, neighbors and all who support them. The Council achieves this mission by sharing information, coordinating public outreach, capacity building, and implementing strategic legislative advocacy to create positive changes in the way education, housing, workplace/careers and community living opportunities are made available to persons with developmental disabilities.
Examples of GCDD’s programmatic work include Real Communities, an asset-based community program to build more welcoming communities; Project Search, that assists students in gaining marketable job skills that will lead to employment; The Children’s Freedom Initiative, a collaborative effort to ensure that children who live in institutions are given the chance to live with permanent, loving families, and; Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) programs that allow students with developmental disabilities to attend college.