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Our Partners:

Community Health Leaders


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Health Leaders (CHL) Award recognizes 10 unsung heroes who are working to improve health and expand access to health care in their own communities. These individuals display exceptional courage, creativity, and commitment to expanding access to health care and social services, especially for underserved populations. The Award elevates the work of the leaders by raising awareness of their extraordinary contributions through national visibility, a $125,000 award and networking opportunities.  The Community Health Leaders Award is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, administered by the Harris Foundation.  

Program Model

Community Health Leaders are nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, clergy, attorneys and judges, school officials, activists and advocates. Recent award winners worked to help low income parents control their children’s asthma, increased access to health care services for uninsured taxi drivers, and promoted statewide policies to improve and expand access to health care services for all citizens. Leaders also address issues such as accessible quality clinics and health centers, maternal and child health, youth and families, cancer, HIV/AIDS, substance use disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes and special populations.


The Community Health Leaders Award features:

  • A financial award of $125,000: $105,000 to enhance the leader’s work, and $20,000 as a direct award for the leader’s accomplishments;
  • National recognition and presentation;
  • Participation in an annual meeting with other leaders;
  • Scholarships and sponsorships to attend meetings and conferences;
  • Peer-exchange meetings focusing on specific issues;
  • Technical assistance through consultation, phone and video conferencing and connections to other resources; and
  • Participation in work groups to explore health care issues affecting communities.

Selection Criteria

The National Program Office announces a Call for Nominations each year. The Call for Nominations lists specific criteria and qualifications and describes the selection process, including deadlines for letters of intent, and guidelines for the actual nomination.

General criteria include:

  • Creativity or innovation in starting or enhancing efforts to improve access to care and the health of their community
  • Mid-career level with a record of accomplishment and commitment
  • Positive effect or impact on a significant number of people in the community
  • Little significant national recognition for their work 
  • Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or its territories at the time of the nomination deadline
  • Be affiliated with a public or nonprofit organization that is tax-exempt under Section 501C3 of the Internal Revenue Code

Nominations for CHL can be made by health care consumers, community leaders, government employees, health care providers, and others.

Work With Community Health Leaders!

  • Invite a Community Health Leader to speak at an event
  • Collaborate with a Community Health Leader
  • Learn more about the issues addressed by Community Health Leaders


For more information, please contact:

Emily Thrasher Caldwell, Program Coordinator - Community Health Leaders
Community Health Leaders National Program Office
The Harris Foundation
1330 Post Oak Boulevard, Suite 2550
Houston, Texas  77056

Phone:   832.319.7380
Fax:        832.319.7385

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