Children’s HealthWatch Champion
The Children’s HealthWatch Champion is an annual award given to a champion who advocates for evidence-based policies that help children thrive. We commend and are grateful to the following honorees for their work in upholding the health and well-being of children and families through courage, tenacity and compassion.
CONGRESSMAN BOB CASEY, JR., U.S. Senate, Pennsylvania
Recipient of the 2023 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
Children’s HealthWatch announced that it will celebrate Senator Bob Casey Jr. as its 2023 Champion. This annual award is presented to “a champion who advocates for evidence-based policies that help children thrive.” He will be presented the award at the organization’s 25th Anniversary Celebration on October 17, 2023 at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter in South Boston.
“Throughout his career, Senator Casey has adamantly believed that all children deserve a strong, healthy start in life,” said Dr. Ettinger de Cuba, Executive Director of Children’s HealthWatch. “His longtime leadership and commitment to advancing policies that promote economic security and access to evidence-based supports has uplifted families across Pennsylvania and the entire country,” Ettinger de Cuba continued.
Senator Casey, who represents Pennsylvania, has served in Congress since 2007 where he has been a staunch advocate for children and families. The Senator has championed legislation to expand access to health care, child care, child nutrition, and family tax credits. His Five Freedoms for America’s Children has served as a blueprint for evidence-driven policies that ensure all children in the United States have the opportunity to thrive. Children’s HealthWatch has worked closely with Senator Casey throughout his tenure in Congress, including in partnership with the Witnesses to Hunger project.
“We share Senator Casey’s dedication to fight against inequity,” says Dr. Ettinger de Cuba. “We are honored to stand with him in advocating for evidence-based policies that build economic stability and promote health for every child and every family, and we appreciate his efforts in tying public policies to research as a way to illuminate their impacts on health and wellbeing.”
REVEREND DOCTORS WILLIAM BARBER II AND LIZ THEOHARIS, Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign
Recipients of the 2022 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
We are thrilled to present the Rev. Drs. William Barber II and Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival, with this year’s Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award. This award is presented to a champion who advocates for equitable, evidence-based policies that help children and families thrive.
Nearly 55 years ago, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others built the Poor People’s Campaign, a broad, moral movement that united people and communities across the country to confront the injustices of poverty and advance the civil rights of all people. Today, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continues Dr. King’s movement to shift our country’s moral narrative, impact policies and elections, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people. The success of these movements to confront systemic racism and poverty demonstrates the significance of collective action and power generated when individuals join together to advance a common cause.
CONGRESSWOMAN ROSA DELAURO, U.S. House of Representatives, Connecticut 3rd District
Recipient of the 2021 Inaugural Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro is the recipient of the 2021 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award for her unwavering commitment to children and families through the advancement of evidence-based policies that respond to the harsh realities of poverty and hunger among families in across the nation. This award is presented to a champion who advocates for evidence-based policies that help children thrive.
Soon after earning degrees from Marymount College and Columbia University, Congresswoman DeLauro followed her parents’ footsteps into public service, serving as the first Executive Director of EMILY’s List, a national organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in elected office; Executive Director of Countdown ’87, the national campaign that successfully stopped U.S. military aid to the Nicaraguan Contras; and as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd. In 1990, she was elected to the House of Representatives, and she has served as the Congresswoman from Connecticut’s Third Congressional District ever since.
Congresswoman DeLauro serves as the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and sits on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and she is the Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees our nation’s investments in education, health, and employment. She is a leader in fighting to improve and expand federal support for child nutrition and for modernizing our food safety system. She believes that the U.S. should have one agency assigned the responsibility for food safety, rather than the 15 different agencies that lay claim to different parts of our food system. She fights against special interests, like tobacco and e-cigarettes, which seek to skirt our public health and safety rules.
Congresswoman DeLauro believes that our first priority must be to strengthen the economy and create good middle class jobs. At the core of her work is her fight for America’s working families. She believes that we must raise the nation’s minimum wage, give all employees access to paid sick days, allow employees to take paid family and medical leave, and ensure equal pay for equal work. She supports tax cuts for working and middle class families. Every day, she fights for legislation that would give all working families an opportunity to succeed, including the Child Tax Credit (CTC): after an 18-year mission to cut child poverty through the expansion of the CTC, it was finally fulfilled this past spring! She belongs to 62 House caucus groups and is the co-chair of the Baby Caucus, the Long Island Sound Caucus, and the Food Safety Caucus.
We share Congresswoman DeLauro’s conviction that all deserve to be healthy and thrive, regardless of who or what they are or where they come from. This basic but ever true premise underscores everything that she does on behalf of countless children and families, and we are so thankful for her resolve to champion policies that lift and support the potential of many who have so much to give to their communities and the nation at large.
CONGRESSWOMAN AYANNA PRESSLEY, U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts 7th District
Recipient of the 2020 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
The recipient of the 2020 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley embodies its spirit with her passion for supporting the well-being of children and families through the advancement of evidence-based policies that respond to the harsh realities of hunger, homelessness, and poverty among families in Massachusetts and across the nation.
Congresswoman Pressley has been a stalwart supporter of legislation and policies that lift children and families economically and that dismantle the racism and discrimination embedded in the many institutions that are supposed to help, not hurt, constituents. These policies are even more critical today as families across the country, particularly communities of color, feel the repercussions of an economic crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We share her dedication to robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences – creating environments where all can be healthy and thrive. This focus underscores everything that she does on behalf of countless children and families, and we are so grateful for her commitment to holding us all accountable and ensuring that every choice is an equitable choice, lifting up communities who have so much to give to those around them and the nation at large.
Born in Cincinnati and raised in Chicago, Congresswoman Pressley is the only child of Sandra Pressley, a tenants’ rights organizer who instilled in her the value of civic engagement. She moved to Boston in 1992 to attend Boston University. Working as an aide to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II and later Senator John Kerry, her professional life mirrored her commitment to service and lifting the voices of those in her community. In 2009, Congresswoman Pressley launched a historic at-large campaign for Boston City Council and won, becoming the first woman of color elected to the Council in its 100-year history. On the Council, she worked in partnership with residents, advocates, and other elected officials to combat the inequities and disparities facing the community. This is where Children’s HealthWatch got to know her – working with her to highlight the child health impact of food insecurity and housing instability.
Congresswoman Pressley made history again in November 2018 when she was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She re-elected in 2020. During her tenure, she has introduced legislation–very much aligned with this year’s theme—to help families reach financial stability and decrease the racial wealth gap, such as the STRONG Support for Children Act, Anti-Racism in Public Health Act, American Opportunity Accounts Act, Comprehensive CREDIT Act and Building Our Opportunities to Survive and Thrive, or BOOST, among others.
Congresswoman Pressley believes that policy backed by evidence helps children and families do more than just survive but to thrive. We are immensely grateful for her tireless advocacy and commitment not only to her constituents in the Massachusetts 7th district, but everyone who seeks a better and brighter future for themselves and their loved ones.
DIANE YENTEL, President & CEO, National Low Income Housing Coalition
Recipient of the 2019 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
Diane Yentel is the recipient of 2019 Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award, and the President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a membership organization dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes. She is a veteran affordable housing policy expert with nearly two decades of work on affordable housing and community development.
Her steadfast commitment to shining a light on the need for safe and affordable housing for the lowest income people in our country and the impacts of housing instability has on the health of our nation’s children and their families, and her contributions to housing research and social policy that illuminate the challenges that many, especially families living in poverty, contend with daily, are among the many reasons we selected her as a Champion.
Diane has been a leader in highlighting how poverty and housing instability make for a perfect storm of harm in many communities, particularly those of color; advocating for housing that is affordable for the lowest income people in our country; and providing up to date research on the state of housing affordability nationwide and the effects of policies and current trends on housing stability. Through her stewardship of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, she has lifted up the stories of millions who struggle to afford a quality home for themselves and their loved ones, often at the expense of other pressing and equally important needs, such as food, utilities, medicine and childcare.
Before rejoining NLIHC (where she previously worked as a policy analyst), Diane was Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs at Enterprise Community Partners, where she led federal, state and local policy, research and advocacy programs. Prior to Enterprise, Diane was the director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where she managed a team overseeing the development and implementation of nationwide public housing policies, procedures, and guidelines. She also worked to advance affordable housing policies with Oxfam America and the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and served for 3 years as a community development Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia.
As a longtime partner of Children’s HealthWatch in the housing advocacy space, she deeply values the importance of data and research in spurring change and has seen firsthand how our research conveys how negatively unstable housing, hunger and the inability to pay utility bills can affect young children’s health and development and our families’ well-being. NLIHC has utilized our research as we worked with them and our other partners, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to create, launch and lead the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, a long-term, multi-sector campaign to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s lowest-income people. Diane is frequently quoted in major media outlets, and has testified multiple times before Congress. She has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.
CONGRESSMAN JAMES P. MCGOVERN, U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts 2nd District
Recipient of the 2018 Inaugural Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award
The 2018 inaugural recipient of the Children’s HealthWatch Champion Award, Congressman Jim McGovern, personifies the word ‘champion’ with his unwavering commitment to advancing evidence-based policies that respond to the harsh realities of hunger and food insecurity among people in Massachusetts and across the nation. He has been a leader in so many ways – from issues affecting human rights to immigrant communities and tax policy. We are so grateful for his resolve to end hunger –– never losing sight of the facts and evidence and the ways in which their opportunities for healthy, productive lives are impacted by his colleagues’ and his decisions about SNAP and other nutrition programs.
Congressman McGovern was elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, and through his work in Washington and at home in Massachusetts, he has been a voice for the most vulnerable and a strong advocate for working families. In 2001, he was appointed to a seat on the powerful House C Rules Committee, “the traffic cop of Congress” which sets the terms for debate on most legislation.
During his time in Congress, his top priority has always been his constituents back home. He has been an advocate for making college more affordable, and authored a bill to increase Pell Grant funding. To protect open space for future generations to enjoy and enhance recreational community spaces in urban and suburban neighborhoods, Jim successfully fought to defend the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides grants to preserve open space.
One of Congressman McGovern’s greatest passions is ending hunger at home and abroad. He is the founder and co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus and Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Nutrition, where he advocates tirelessly for funding programs that help working families, children, and the elderly put food on the table when times are tough. He also authored the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program to provide school-based meals for millions of children in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Congressman McGovern’s work on behalf of Massachusetts and the nation has a proven record of success and he is proud to represent Massachusetts’ Second Congressional District in Washington, D.C.
Marilyn Meyerhoff Equity Award
The Marilyn Meyerhoff Equity Award, named after the late Marilyn Meyerhoff, a longtime benefactor and sponsor of Children’s HealthWatch equity-focused events, is an annual award given to a passionate advocate committed to achieving equity for all children and their families.
Recipient of the 2023 Inaugural Marilyn Meyerhoff Equity Award
Children’s HealthWatch, headquartered at Boston Medical Center, is excited to announce Karen Sweet as the inaugural recipient of the Marilyn Meyerhoff Equity Award. Named after the late Marilyn Meyerhoff, a longtime benefactor and sponsor of Children’s HealthWatch equity-focused events, this annual award is given to “a passionate advocate committed to achieving equity for all children and their families.” She was presented the award at the organization’s 25th Anniversary.
“Karen Sweet has exemplified her dedication to equity in her work with Children’s HealthWatch on the Advisory Board, in her Board leadership role as Advancement Chair, as well as in her work outside of our organization,” Children’s HealthWatch Executive Director, Dr. Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, states.
During the mid-80’s, Ms. Sweet headed a grass-roots lobbying committee for the organization Resolve, and she was instrumental in the passage of state health care legislation that requires insurers to cover the cost of infertility treatments, just as they do other pregnancy-related procedures. In 1985, Ms. Sweet began a long relationship with the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center, starting as a fund-raising volunteer and remaining a member of the committee for the annual fundraising event, “Food for Thought.”
In 2001, Karen earned her Massachusetts educator licensure and began teaching French and Spanish at both the primary and secondary level. She taught both languages in special education programs in the Newton high schools. Ms. Sweet joined the advisory board of Children’s HealthWatch in 2015. She became the Advancement Chair in 2018. In these roles, she has helped Children’s HealthWatch to expand its audience reach and to secure funds for deep organizational work to center equity in operations, research and policy.
The Marilyn Meyerhoff Equity Award is named after Ms. Sweet’s late mother, who, along with her partner, Sam Feldman, was a longtime supporter of Children’s HealthWatch and our Equity Series. Since 2020, Children’s HealthWatch has produced a yearly series of webinars shedding light on how racism and inequities erode the future of our children, and how public policies must, and can be changed, so that all children may thrive and have a real chance for healthy, fulfilled lives. 2023’s Equity Series is a three episode podcast series, titled Pathways to Equity. The Equity Series would not be possible without Marilyn Meyerhoff’s generous support and passion for advancing equity.
“We feel honored to have such a close relationship with an advocate as passionate as Ms. Sweet,” says Dr. Ettinger de Cuba. “She is a tireless champion of our mission to achieve health equity for young children and their families.”