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Morehouse School of Medicine Launches the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network

Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network (HELEN)

Atlanta, Georgia October 21, 2014

Morehouse School of Medicine in collaboration with the National REACH Coalition (NRC) and the National Collaborative for Health Equity has launched the Health Equity Leadership & Exchange Network (HELEN) – A Campaign to Reignite the Push for Health Equity. The HELEN initiative, funded by a grant from the Aetna Foundation is a national network to bolster leadership development and the exchange of ideas and information to advance health equity in laws, policies, and programs across the 50 states and territories.

The HELEN initiative is excited to bring on the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved to help ensure that health policy issues impacting HIT and health disparities are appropriately addressed in this new network. The NHIT Collaborative for the Underserved is dedicated to the goal of using health information technology to eliminate health disparities in underserved populations and communities of color, and seeks to involve all citizens in the process of achieving optimal health. The NHIT Collaborative is, thus, an ideal partner for the HELEN Initiative in achieving the goal of advancing a health equity agenda.

NHIT Collaborative CEO Luis Belen expressed enthusiasm for the network, saying: "It is only through collaboration that organizations and people can come together to provide solutions that reduce disparities in access and quality of health and healthcare. The NHIT Collaborative is proud to be the national health IT voice within HELEN, and we look forward to close collaboration in the coming months."

Announced at the 2014 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference, the website has now been officially launched, and has generated tremendous excitement across the nation. The HELEN website,, has already successfully engaged more than 450 health equity champions representing diverse sectors and communities to advance health equity for vulnerable populations. It has many interactive features to increase connectivity and the exchange of information between HELEN members, including an interactive map of the United States and its Territories, a resource library with the latest information on federal and state laws and policies, including the Affordable Care Act, reports and analysis, a database of HELEN members with in-site messaging capability, and a member's only discussion forum. Membership in HELEN is free and open to all who have an interest in furthering health equity for all vulnerable populations.

Through this collaboration, Morehouse School of Medicine, the NRC, the National Collaborative for Health Equity, and the NHIT Collaborative for the Underserved will combine their expertise in community-led initiatives to develop and implement policies and programs that promote health equity. "The HELEN project will include members of various organizations, coalitions and associations committed to the elimination of health disparities and serve as a national forum for health equity champions to share information about timely, relevant and pressing policy issues impacting health equity," said Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., Executive Director for Government Relations, Health Policy and External Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the HELEN Project.

The HELEN project is the first component of a larger comprehensive engagement and leadership development program to achieve health equity and strengthen the evidence base for informing health laws, policies, and programs that affect the lives of vulnerable communities. "The HELEN Project provides another level of skill building focused on policy analysis to assist communities in determining and implementing, health equity policies that are useful, relevant, and effective," said Cathy Morales, NRC Program Director and HELEN Project Administrative Lead.

"As the United States moves towards increased access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, the HELEN project provides a unique and timely opportunity to identify, develop and implement policies and laws that further advance health equity for vulnerable populations," said Brian Smedley, PhD., Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and Co-principal investigator.

HELEN Project participants will have access to in-depth, real-time analysis, fact sheets, briefs, and information on health equity laws, policies, and programs at the federal and state levels. Thus, health champions will gain a greater understanding of the economic and legal impact of existing and proposed policies, as well as the ability to better define the challenges in advancing health equity.

To learn more about the project and become a HELEN Project member, please visit

Added Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by NHIT Collaborative

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