Washington, D.C. — Today, United States of Care (USofCare) introduced the Voices of Real Life — people from different backgrounds, brought together to guide and advise USofCare’s work of making policy recommendations that are fiscally responsible, politically durable and serve all individuals. With guidance from Voice’s members, USofCare seeks to understand people’s needs, language, and emotions around health care. Through our Community Conversations series, we will meet with people across the country, listen to their stories, and empower them to help shape health reform. USofCare will then amplify the learnings, sharing them with policymakers in order to create people-centered policies.
To create health reform centered on the true needs of people, each Voices of Real Life member has committed to sharing their expertise on the needs of their communities, barriers that hinder people from living fully, and how these factors are experienced and communicated in the real world.
“Since our founding, we have been committed to centering health reform on the needs of people – the Voices of Real Life provides us with that opportunity,” said Natalie Davis, Co-Founder and Senior Director of Public Engagement. “Our work and conversations will provide us with a deep understanding of the needs of people, which will guide our policy solutions, and empower individuals to be a part of shaping health reform.”
The first Voices of Real Life class — 17 members strong — will help shape the way USofCare engages communities, and guide USofCare’s people-centered approach to health reform. United States of Care will expand the Voices of Real Life over time to make sure we can receive insights and perspectives from every community.
“I’m grateful to United States of Care for the opportunity to shape a positive vision for health care and to use my voice and stories from my community to help create a better health care system for all,” said Voices member Rebekah G. Taussig. “I’m encouraged by the commitment that each of the Voices members share, and I look forward to working with other Voices of Real Life members, and United States of Care, to make a meaningful, long-lasting change to health care that helps everyone.”
The roster for Voices of Real Life includes:
- Rebekah Azaylia Alexander
- Shane Baker
- Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD
- Kris F. Garcia
- Joanne Corte Grossi, MIPP
- Nicole Smith-Holt
- Hunter Husar
- Bhavna Mehta
- Sidney McCarther
- Summer Moss, PT DPT
- Aza Nedhari, MS
- Elizabeth Noriega
- Patricia Pasechnick
- Rebekah G. Taussig
- Maria Verduzco, MD
- Amy Webb
- Greg Williams, MA
The full biographies for each Voices of Real Life member can be found at UnitedStatesOfCare.org/voices/
About United States of Care’s Voices of Real Life
Rebekah Azaylia Alexander
- Millennial caregiver from Bellerose, Queens; co-caregiver to her maternal grandmother from Puerto Rico for over eight years.
- Experience as a young co-caregiver, while working and pursuing her Master of Public Administration Degree full-time. shaped her commitment to advocacy for labor and health care policies that support caregivers and their families during periods of heightened need.
- Member of the inaugural Caring Across Generations CARE Fellowship, where fellows are trained in communication and media outreach to stakeholders including elected officials and candidates.
- Eight years of fundraising and development management experience working as an assistant director of Annual Giving at Yale University.
- Husband, dad, and teacher who lives in Southeastern Minnesota with his patient wife, two beautiful daughters and their lap-warmer, Gus Gus the Wondermutt.
- As a former church professional, and because of his 20+ years of experience as an educator, he is interested in young peoples’ access to health care, particularly in the areas of mental health and preventative care.
- Focused on addressing issues connected to health care affordability for families.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD
- CDC-trained epidemiologist, board-certified infectious disease physician.
- Physician and health literacy expert.
- Founder and CEO, Grapevine Health.
- Clinical professor, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
- Lecturer, George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Kris F. Garcia
- Lives in Colorado with wife and children.
- State and national advocate, focusing on the following areas: LGBTQ rights, transgender and transition health care, and mental health/suicide prevention.
Joanne Corte Grossi, MIPP
- Served as Pennsylvania AARP since 2017.
- Former Regional Director (Region III), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Mother of four and policy advocate for insulin availability and access.
- Charity ambassador for T1International.
- Co-leader, MNInsulin4All.
- Co-chair, MN Advisory Task Force on Lowering Pharmaceutical Drug Prices.
- Technologist. Software engineer with extensive health care experience.
- Active involvement in several health tech startups.
- Former Chicago-area high school instructor with a unique perspective on the health care needs of at-risk and disadvantaged teens.
- Caregiver for cancer survivor and advocate for non-partisan changes to the health care system.
- Former software engineer, current artist who uses paper cutting and embroidery to tell her stories.
- Her work focuses on concepts of relating and remembering.
- Her works are displayed in San Diego and Southern California.
- Multiple time award winner.
- Current AARP Missouri Volunteer State President; served as a volunteer for over 16 years.
- Passionate about advocating for the rights, education and affordable health care for all.
- Volunteers as Personnel Team Chairperson and Assistant Treasurer at his Church-Grace Baptist Church.
- Member of the board of directors — Central High School Alumni Educational Foundation-KC MO.
Summer Moss, PT DPT
- Physical therapist.
- Founder, Active Minds on Campus.
- Producer Faces of Mental Health video series.
Aza Nedhari, MS
- Certified Professional Midwife, family counselor, and the Founding Executive Director of Mamatoto Village
- Honored by the Mayor of the District of Columbia with a “Washington Women of Excellence Award” in the Leader in Maternal Health.
- Brings over 15 years of experience in community organizing, reproductive health education, and program management and development.
- Aza is a mother to three spirited and gentle children and partner to an amazing artist.
- Full-time parent; student, American Sign Language Interpretation.
- Member, Northern Virginia Down Syndrome Association.
- Athlete Ambassador, National Down Syndrome Society.
- Advisory Board Member, Kaiser Permanente Research Bank Community.
- Advisory Board Member, Virginia Medicaid Department
- Received two breast cancer diagnoses — 2009 and 2017.
- As a self-employed hairstylist, is experienced in navigating insurance coverage and care by herself.
- After a period of remission, currently battling cancer with the support of her two daughters and family friends.
Rebekah G. Taussig
- Writer, teacher from Kansas City, Mo.
- Interested in the “powerful connections” between the cultural stories we tell and the world we live in, from physical spaces and economic opportunities to social roles and interpersonal relationships.
- Her writing focuses on the question of what it means to live in a particular body.
- Composes mini memoirs via Twitter at @sitting_pretty.
Maria Verduzco, MD
- Physician and clinical site director, Central Washington Family Medicine Residency Program.
- Born and raised in Yakima, Washington.
- Artists, writer, mother and disability advocate.
- Creator, lifestyle blog This Little Miggy Stayed Home.
- Interviews individuals and families as part of her Disability Spotlight podcast series.
- Published first children’s book, When Charley Met Emma in 2019; teaches children about disability and navigating new friendships.
Greg Williams, MA
- Crafted career dedicated to creating positive change in access to quality health care and recovery supports for over 20 million Americans struggling with addiction.
- Award-winning filmmaker of feature-length documentaries The Anonymous People and Generation Found.
- Manages national addiction payment reform initiative for Third Horizon Strategies.