Katie Parker joined The Democracy Collaborative in 2014 and works as a Senior Research Associate. Her work focuses on advancing strategies that build community wealth and democratize ownership and control. A primary area of focus has been on how anchor institutions can leverage their business practices, such as procurement, hiring and investment, to support inclusive economic development. She is co-author of the Hospitals Aligned for Healthy Communities toolkit series, and has provided facilitation and content support to The Democracy Collaborative's healthcare and higher education anchor networks. Her current body of work is focused on regional economic development. Katie is editor of the community-wealth.org newsletter and coordinates The Democracy Collaborative's internship program.
Katie has a B.A. in environmental studies from Brown University, where she focused on the political economy of food systems and natural-resource based industries. Prior to moving to DC, she worked for a community-based conservation non-profit in the Swan Valley of Montana. She has a background in local food procurement, working as the purchasing coordinator of the Brown Market Shares Program in Providence, Rhode Island.
Every day, we learn more about how patients’ health outcomes are tied not only to the healthcare they receive but also to the conditions in the communities where they live. Social and economic inequities, amplified by race, often emerge as the leading factors explaining differences in health outcomes and life expectancies.
Through local and inclusive hiring, health systems can invest in an ecosystem of success that lifts up local residents; helps create career pathways for low-income, minority, and hard-to-employ populations; and begins to transform neighborhoods. In the process, health systems can develop a more efficient workforce pipeline, meet sustainability and inclusion goals, and ultimately improve the health of their communities. Establishing a local and inclusive hiring strategy is an important first step towards rethinking your health system’s role in the community. This toolkit can help you get started.
- Nonprofit Quarterly
Last month, university leaders at two conferences took a hard look at the state of community engagement and what attendees at both conferences called an “anchor mission.” A lot has happened with respect to anchor institutions in the past decade. Ten years ago, anchor institutions existed as kind of an esoteric, quasi-academic concept. Today, the idea that institutions have an anchor mission is widely, albeit not universally, accepted. Katie Parker, a senior research associate at The Democracy Collaborative, a nonprofit helping CUMU support the 31-school Anchor Learning Network, said their network too looks to deepen equity work.
Written by Randy Oostra, CEO of ProMedica (a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network) with the support of The Democracy Collaborative's David Zuckerman and Katie Parker, this report offers an in-depth look at how the Toledo, Ohio based health system aligned its institutional operations and clinical practice to better tackle the social determinants of health. From an innovative hospital-owned grocery store in a food desert to investments in preserving affordable housing, this exploration of ProMedica's decade-long journey to understand how their resources as a healthcare anchor could be used for the wellbeing of the communities they serve is a useful guide for hospitals and health systems embarking on similar shifts.
Nationally, health systems have an estimated $400 billion in investment assets. Redirecting even a small portion of these resources to place-based investments would shift billions of dollars toward addressing economic and environmental disparities in local communities. It would allow institutions to more effectively improve community health and well-being, even as they continue to earn a healthy rate of return. This toolkit outlines a range of strategies for how health systems are using their investment assets to help address the resource gaps that keep communities from achieving better health and well-being.
As we learn more about what families and children need to lead healthy lives, it is clear that adverse social, economic, and environmental factors, coupled with racial disparities, prevent communities from building a culture of health. The good news is that hospitals and health systems are recognizing that they have significant, untapped assets at their disposal to help address these challenges: their investment portfolios. Through place-based investing, institutions can leverage these resources to improve their communities’ overall health and well-being. This toolkit will help you get started.
Across the country, healthcare institutions are recognizing that they can creatively leverage their supply chains to address the upstream economic and environmental conditions that have the greatest impact on the health of local residents. In doing so, they can create family-supporting local jobs and build community wealth. This toolkit on local and diverse purchasing showcases examples of how hospitals and health systems are reevaluating their roles as their community’s largest purchasers, understanding that a thriving local economy is fundamental to a healthy community.
The sourcing of goods, services, and food that your hospital or health system does every day, when aligned with your mission, can help build local wealth in the communities you serve. By supporting diverse and locally owned vendors and helping to incubate new community enterprises to fill supply chain gaps, hospital and health systems like yours can leverage existing resources to drive local economic growth and build a culture of health in their communities. This toolkit can help you get started