Executive Director, Community Catalyst
Roberta Friedman Cummings
Trustee, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Our job is to support the network of consumer advocates across the country. The Cummings Foundation has been an important grantor, I think probably for the past ten years or so. We started out as an organization with probably six staff and we now have 45 staff, so there’s been a dramatic increase in what we do and how we do it. We’re involved in many more states. We’re involved in many more issues. We have a campaign around dental access, which is really a problem for many, many low income people. We have a campaign on pharmaceutical conflicts of interest, where pharmaceutical companies are marketing to physicians, giving them gifts and essentially distorting information that they’re getting. So I think fundamentally we still are focused on empowering low income people to have a voice in the healthcare system, but we’re much broader and carry a much heavier club right now in terms of our ability to influence special interests and legislation.
So in some ways, the foundation has really helped shape the agenda of Community Catalyst and now with the Affordable Care Act, we’re providing major support to state advocates to implement a very complicated piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act over the next four years.
We’ve always felt like the Cummings Foundation has been a partner in the work. Collaboration is one of our organizational values and that’s really been the relationship we’ve had with the foundation, so I think the values of the foundation are very similar to the values of Community Catalyst and I think that’s one of the reasons we have such a strong relationship.
Sarah (Kay - NFC program officer) is just an amazing strategist and she really has changed the way organizations like mine think about communications and really to move us into the 21st Century. You need to really think about who your audience is. Connecting to real people is the difference between winning and losing in so many of these battles. You just can’t be an advocate, particularly these days if you don't have a base of people who are impacted by the policies you’re talking about.