Elena Hung Wins First Speak Up For Better Health Award From The Center For Consumer Engagement In Health Innovation

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August 14, 2018

CONTACT: Jack Cardinal, (781) 960-5208


(BOSTON, MA) - Faced with a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act last summer, Elena Hung “felt like [she] had to do something” to defend the program’s provisions which help her care for her daughter, Xiomara. So she and a few other parents took their kids – with their wheelchairs, ventilators, oxygen tanks and feeding tubes – to Capitol Hill so members of Congress could see exactly what was at stake.

The experience galvanized Hung, who went on to start Little Lobbyists, a non-profit advocacy group that protects and expands the rights of children who have complex health and social needs.

Today, the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation (The Center) at Community Catalyst recognized Hung and her remarkable work, making the Maryland resident the winner of the first Speak Up for Better Health Award. This new prize honors exceptional people raising their voices and working to improve their health and the health of their communities.

The full story of Elena Hung’s advocacy and the other contest winners, can be found here.

“Too often consumers are missing in the larger conversations around health policy and health system transformation,” said Ann Hwang, MD, director of The Center. “Elena’s advocacy and that of the other honorees of the Speak Up for Better Health Award demonstrate the powerful and crucially important role that each of us, as patients, family members and caregivers, has to play in creating a better health care system.”

The Center also announced three additional honorees for the award, including:

  • Beverly Canin, from Kingston, NY, a cancer survivor who has spent the last two decades fighting to ensure the needs of patients and survivors are present in local programs and national conversations about breast cancer care and research;
  • Nancy Houghton, a grandmother with complex health needs and a leading activist with both the Boston Center for Independent Living and MassADAPT, the Massachusetts state affiliate of ADAPT, a national grassroots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action; and
  • Michael Volpe, a Corvallis, OR resident who has spent over two decades advocating on behalf of people living with a disability while living with multiple sclerosis.

The inaugural Speak Up for Better Health Award generated more than 60 nominations from around the country. Winners were chosen by an esteemed panel of judges that included:

  • Bob Crittenden, MD, MPH, senior health policy advisor to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
  • Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., executive director of health policy at Morehouse School of Medicine and senior advisor to the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA
  • Jane Hash, a disability rights advocate and co-founding director and spokesmodel for the nonprofit organization Classy Little Fashions Foundation
  • Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health of the Cook County Health & Hospital System
  • Rani Snyder, program director at The John A. Hartford Foundation 

“The personal perspectives of people and patients, particularly those with complex health and social needs, are critical to creating a better health care system,” said contest judge Rani Snyder. “We need to encourage more community members to speak up, to tell our clinicians, health system leaders and policy makers what really matters to us, and to share how care can be better. This is a critical component to making all of our communities healthier and we will all benefit from their inclusion.”

The Speak Up for Better Health Award comes with a $500 prize and an invitation to attend Community Catalyst’s annual advocate convening, held this September in Atlanta. Additional honorees receive $200.


About the Center for Consumer Engagement In Health Innovation
The Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst is a hub devoted to teaching, learning and sharing knowledge to bring the consumer experience to the forefront of health innovation in order to deliver better care, better value and better health for every community, particularly vulnerable and historically underserved populations. The Center’s work is supported through investments in state and local advocacy, leadership development, research and evaluation, and consultative services to delivery systems and health plans. Visit healthinnovation.org or follow the Center on Twitter @CCEHI to learn more and follow our work.