Health<br>Policy & Advocacy
2014 to 2020

HEA Summit Series

The Health Equity Advocacy Summit Series is a four-month series of interactive training, discussions and presentations with national and Colorado-based leaders, running from August to December 2020. See below to register for upcoming events, or watch recordings of previous events. The summits provide opportunities for you to engage with other community members to advance policy, change the narrative and promote healing towards action. The speakers and topics in this series are being overseen by the members of the Health Equity Advocacy (HEA) Cohort. In this series, presenters:

  • Examine modern-day racism;
  • Share the latest updates on statewide policy wins and continuing challenges; and
  • Discuss a new narrative to heal and move towards action.


Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. MST
Post-Election Summit: What’s Next? The Role of Philanthropy in Advancing Equity through Policy
One week after the election, a number of questions may still be in play. Will we know who our president-elect will be? What will be the outcome of the Senate and House races? How will our country and our communities respond to this news? While our government may be in transition, what role might philanthropy play in supporting community-based efforts to build equitable systems through local and statewide policy? How can philanthropy partner with communities to advance democracy, inclusion and belonging? Featured panelists and moderator are noted below. Register here for the event.

  • Jehan Benton-Clark, Colorado Health Foundation
  • Alison Friedman Phillips, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado
  • Damion LeeNatali, Gary Community Investments/The Piton Foundation
  • Crystal Middlestadt, Chinook Fund
  • David Portillo, The Denver Foundation
  • Moderator: Neha Mahajan, Transformative Leadership for Change.

Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. MST
Standing at the Gates of Hope: Stories from Three Women Who Bend the Arc Toward Justice
Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope… The place of resistance and defiance… The place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. -Victoria Safford
Aunty Puanani Burgess, Susan M. Glisson and Liz La quen náay Medicine Crow will reflect on their combined 100+ years of activism as women who stood in their power of resistance and defiance against patriarchal systems (the U.S. Navy, the University of Mississippi and the U.S. Government, respectively), and won. Through stories, they will share their wisdom on how to hold many roles (sister, daughter, mother, spouse, friend) while being a torchbearer and finding joy in the struggle. This memorable and essential conversation will be moderated by Kevin John Fong. Register here for the event.

Aunty Puanani Burgess is a designer and facilitator for Building the Beloved Community, a process that brings people face-to-face for ceremony, storytelling, and circles of trust. As a community activist, she has been involved in the Native Hawaiian sovereignty movement for over 50 years. She is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest, a published poet, mother, aunty and friend to many. Aunty Pua lives in her multi-generational family homestead in Waianae, HI.

Liz La quen náay Medicine Crow (Haida/Tlingit), is from Keex Kwaan (Kake), Alaska. Integrating Native knowledge and values into organizations, governance mechanisms and everyday life is a primary passion and responsibility that Liz has pursued through her education and career. She currently serves as the President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute, whose vision is to preserve and progress 10,000 years of Native Alaskan wisdom.

A native of Evans, GA, Susan M. Glisson is a trained historian of social movements, a skilled educator, and an accomplished facilitator with a gifted capacity for community engagement and youth mentorship. As the founding executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Susan has facilitated community-driven dialogue in sites with the most notorious histories of racial violence. Susan makes use of the power of stories to illuminate complex issues and liberate the human spirit. Her motivation is simple: "My mother taught me to leave places better than I found them.”

Kevin Kahakula'akea John Fong is a nationally recognized and respected cultural translator, facilitator and speaker in transformative justice, leadership development and organizational design. His mission is to clarify purpose, align principles and integrate systems to cultivate health and equitable communities. Kevin has facilitated over 100 community healing circles throughout Colorado.

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2020, 2 - 4 p.m. MST
Colorado Legislative Summit: Planning for 2021
What’s in store for Colorado communities in 2021? Please join us in a conversation with state legislators from both sides of the aisle, who will share their plans and vision for the 2021 legislative session. We will address major issues affecting our state, such as the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget crisis and the housing crisis. The summit will include small-group conversations with the legislators about how community members can stay engaged in these issues. Invited legislators include:

  • Rep. James Coleman (D-7)
  • Rep. Daneya Esgar (D-46)
  • Rep. Leslie Herod (D-8)
  • Rep. Chris Kennedy (D-23)
  • Sen. Bob Rankin (R-8)

The summit is set to be moderated by Carol Hedges, executive director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The Colorado Trust and the Colorado Health Foundation do not support or oppose ballot initiatives, candidates or legislation. Register here for the event.


Aug. 12, 2020
Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr.: “America is Changing. Are You Ready?”
Dr. Moore founded The Privilege Institute, which engages people in research, education, action and leadership through workshops, conferences, publications and collaborative partnerships and relationships. This session challenged participants to examine their own biases, behaviors and belief systems. Click here for the event recording.

Aug. 19, 2020
Colorado Legislative Panel: Leading in Extraordinary Times
A panel of state legislators discussed the work that happened during the 2020 legislative session to improve health equity in the state and contribute to an equitable recovery from the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for the event recording.

Aug. 21, 2020
john a. powell: “Building Communities of Belonging in the Face of Othering”
As director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, john a. powell brings together stakeholders to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just and sustainable society in order to create transformative change. This session focused on his most recent book, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. Click here for the event recording.

Aug. 31, 2020
Building the Health Equity Advocacy Field in Colorado
HEA Cohort members offered reflections and lessons learned on the past six years of building and nurturing a strong field of community advocates to impact policy decisions and improve health equity in Colorado for years to come. Click here for the event recording.

Sept. 2, 2020
Akaya Windwood: “Exploring the State of the Possible”
Akaya is internationally recognized for elevating the effectiveness of leadership and collaboration in the nonprofit and social benefit sectors. She offered her perspective on patriarchy, hierarchy, race, the future of the planet, climate change, being a woman and where to source our wisdom. Click here for the event recording.

Strategy overview, network partners and evaluation

Strategy overview
The Colorado Trust believes advocacy for policy change is a cornerstone to achieving health equity. Health Equity Advocacy (HEA) is a multi-year funding strategy with the goal to build a strong and diverse field of health equity advocates in the state. We believe that building a strong field of advocates—rather than merely strong, individual advocacy organizations operating in isolation—leads to greater sustainability and to advocates’ ability to successfully respond to a changing political climate.

The strategy is made up of a partnership of 18 direct-service, community organizing and policy advocacy grantees; Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), an evaluation firm; and The Colorado Trust. Referred to as the HEA "Cohort," this partnership is working to build and nurture a strong field of organizations that can advocate together to impact policy decisions to improve health equity in Colorado for years to come. Cohort members collaborate on decisions related to which policy topics to address, capacities to build and strengthen the partnership, communications activities to undertake, how to assure engagement of affected populations in their advocacy effort and how strategy funds should be used. Download any of the resources listed below to learn more. Grant contact: noelle [at] (subject: Health%20Equity%20Advocacy%20Strategy) (Noelle Dorward), Advocacy & Policy Partner, (303) 837-1200.

Network partners
The HEA Cohort provided “network strengthening grants” to partner organizations as part of the Cohort’s strategy to build a cohesive field of advocates. Cohort members were responsible for selecting their partners, working with their network partner to determine the scope of work, and ensuring that they connected to the field-building framework. The Trust acted as a thought partner in implementing the strategy and administering the grants. During this phase of the HEA strategy, $1,020,000 was allocated for grants to network partners. Click here for more information and a complete list of 2018-19 HEA network strengthening grants.

SPR is conducting an independent evaluation of the Health Equity Advocacy grant strategy. The evaluation will document and assess the progress made toward the creation of a robust health advocacy field, identify challenges, opportunities and lessons learned to support further progress, and provide ongoing learning opportunities for grantees as a means to reflect on and refine activities, tactics and strategies. Evaluation contact: felisa [at] (Felisa Gonzales), PhD, MPH, Research, Evaluation & Strategic Learning Manager, (303) 837-1200.

February 2020 Webinars on Housing and Food Insecurity Challenges in Colorado

The Health Equity Advocacy Cohort hosted a series of webinars in February 2020 about advocacy efforts to address housing and food insecurity challenges in Colorado. Recordings are available in English and Spanish.

Rent Control (View the recording in English)
In this political education webinar, participants learned about Colorado law that prevents local communities from enacting affordable housing solutions. They also learned about how to get communities involved in a growing movement to address increasing rents, which are leaving more and more Coloradans struggling to find affordable homes.

Food Security (View the recording in English)
In this webinar, the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger shared information about three policies intended to help address hunger in the state. This webinar also provided participants the opportunity to discuss how those policies work in their communities.

Inclusionary Housing (View the recording in English)
In this political education webinar, participants learned why it’s often impossible for Colorado communities to ensure new housing developments include affordable options.

Mobile Home Enforcement Act (View the recording in English)
In this webinar, participants learned about community-driven efforts to enforce the rights of people that live in mobile home parks.

NOTE: The content of these webinars was solely produced by and the responsibility of Health Equity Advocacy Cohort organizations, and intended for educational purposes. The Colorado Trust was not involved in creating the content for these webinars.

GRANT AMOUNT: $19,950,500

Watch the videos below to learn how the HEA strategy has informed the work of some of the grantee organizations.

Health Equity
Padres & Jóvenes

Health Equity
Full Circle of
Lake County

Health Equity
Center for
Health Progress