Exploring Innovative Strategies in Health Philanthropy: A Recap of the GIH Annual Conference

June 24, 2024

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Grantmakers in Health (GIH) launched its annual conference in Portland on Monday, June 3, 2024, with its theme of “Bold Results Through Courageous Action,” a theme that resonates deeply with our shared mission. The conference started with an opening plenary, Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize: 60 Years After the Civil Rights Act,” with Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The REACH team and several board members attended the event’s on-site and off-site experiences to learn more about local health initiatives and community organizations and participated in GIH’s quick takes and learning labs. Following is a recap of this year’s takeaways from the conference. 

REACH and Board Members at GIH

One of the first pre-conference sessions examined the impact of the Medicaid redetermination process, a topic of interest for REACH as we’ve followed the process as it has unfolded in Kansas and Missouri. The ‘Medicaid Unwound: What Comes Next?‘ session brought in experts from Manatt, Princeton University, Washington State Health Care Authority, New York Health Foundation and Missouri Foundation for Health. This panel provided a comprehensive view of states’ administrative and policy hurdles in renewing Medicaid coverage. Panelists also discussed the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) new rules, which aim to improve access to care and address health-related social needs. The session included effective engagement strategies and the importance of partnerships in supporting Medicaid.  

GIH 2024 Annual Conference

Carla Gibson, Vice President of Programs, was featured in two sessions: A “quick takes” session titled “Consulting with Care: It’s Not Always About the Funding,” about REACH’s approach to local, culturally responsive technical assistance, and a workshop session titled, “Unapologetically Rural: How Three Foundations Are Changing the Game.”  

Carla Gibson, GIH, Consulting with Care Quick Takes

For the session on investing in rural communities, Gibson joined Sarah Moody, Director of Community Relations at the Missouri Foundation for Health, and Abena Asante, Senior Program Officer at St. David’s Foundation, in a conversation about how each foundation approached their engagement and investment strategies to achieve health equity and social justice goals. Gibson shared learnings from the foundation’s early Rural Health Initiative and the trust-based philanthropic practices REACH has adopted that more effectively align with the health priorities of our three rural counties.  

Carla Gibson, Sarah Moody at GIH 2024 Annual Conference

There was an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of longtime foundation peer Billie Hall, recently retired president and CEO of the Sunflower Foundation located in Topeka. Billie received the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in recognition of her leadership role in elevating health in Kansas and supporting the growth and membership of GIH. 

GIH Awardees

There was ample opportunity for the REACH Board members and staff to learn and get to know each other, and network with philanthropic leaders across the country. Thank you to outgoing REACH Board Chair Lynette Sparkman-Barnes, new Chair Guy Collier, and members Patti Miklos-Boyd, Octavio Estrella and Nicole Palmer for joining us.  

GIH continues to offer an exciting learning and networking space, and challenging food for thought regarding obstacles and advances in health equity and social and health justice issues. 


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