Gary Cohen, partner in healthcare innovation, wins MacArthur 'Genius' Award

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Michelle Stearn

Congratulations to Gary Cohen on winning the MacArthur ‘genius’ award and becoming one of 24 fellows to receive a grant in recognition of his groundbreaking, coalition-building work in the healthcare industry. Gary’s ‘genius’ is grounded in his remarkable ability to confront not just the symptoms of health and disease, but to dig directly to their roots: the environment and social conditions of patients.

At the top of the list of Gary’s accomplishments stands his immense contributions as the president and co-founder of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH). His broad list of successes as leader of HCWH includes efforts to completely eliminate the use of mercury in thermometers, targeted advocacy to reduce the use of waste incinerators that emit large amounts of carcinogens, and countless other initiatives that tackle health and disease on a systemic level. HCWH has a been a leader in leveraging healthcare purchasing power to benefit communities and the environment through increasing the sourcing of local food, expanding the use of sustainable and less hazardous products, and pushing healthcare to take on climate change by reducing its carbon footprint.

Having been aware of the great work of Gary and HCWH for a number of years, we are excited to have the opportunity to partner with him and his organization directly to address the roots of health issues and diseases. As such, we are collaborating with HCWH and Emerald Cities Collaborative on a project called Anchors for Resilient Communities (ARC) in California’s East Bay. Over this year and early into the next, we are seeking to develop a strategy that leverages the assets and capacities of East Bay anchor institutions to develop healthy, resilient and economically prosperous communities, focusing on underserved neighborhoods in Richmond and Oakland.

Here at the Democracy Collaborative, we again wish to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Gary and his team at HCWH as he moves forward with this prestigious award in hand.