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Advancing Rural Health Equity through Partnerships, Data, and Finance

Various factors make meeting rural health needs difficult, from a lack of access to health facilities, services, and professionals to challenging financing systems and payment models. Despite persistent barriers, rural health innovators are building cross-sector partnerships, leveraging data to set priorities and track outcomes, and shifting funding models to ensure rural residents have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

Join the Urban Institute and Partners for Rural Transformation for a discussion about challenges and solutions for advancing rural health equity. Speakers will describe the state of rural health in America and highlight community-driven solutions, showcasing promising service and partnership models and financing practices, including ones highlighted in Urban's newly released guidebook. Practitioners from across the country will share how they leverage partnerships, data, and funding to meet the health needs of diverse rural populations (e.g., Native Americans, students, and refugees) and regions (e.g., colonias, central Appalachia, the Midwest, and the Deep South).


Opening Remarks

  • Rekha Balu, Vice President, Office of Race and Equity Research, Urban Institute
  • Elaine Crutchfield, Director of Program Support Services, Communities Unlimited
  • Tom Morris, Associate Administrator for Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services


Panel - Financing Rural Health Equity: Ways to Address Needs

  • Emily Burleson, Project Manager of Advocacy and Research, Partners for Rural Transformation
  • Alex Lawson, Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Hope Enterprise
  • Bonita Robertson-Hardy, Co–Executive Director, Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • Katrina Badger, Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (moderator)


Panel - Promising Models to Address Rural Health Challenges

  • Patty Molina, Senior Director of Community Health Services, Mariposa Community Health Center
  • Mary Otwell, Board President, School-Based Health Alliance of Arkansas
  • Allison Seigars, Executive Director, Rural Health Projects Inc.
  • Anne Junod, Senior Research Associate, Urban Institute (moderator)


Panel - Partnerships for Identifying Needs and Tracking Progress on Promoting Rural Health Equity

  • Elaine Crutchfield, Director of Program Support Services, Communities Unlimited
  • Sydney Howard, Data Research Analyst, Center of Excellence in Rural Health, University of Kentucky
  • Carla Willis, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute
  • Anna Morgan, Research Analyst, Urban Institute (moderator)


 Closing Remarks

  • Corianne Payton Scally, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute


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This event is available for in-person or virtual participation. Please be sure to register correctly. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including one booster shot, is required to attend this event in person. Please be prepared to show proof of your vaccinations upon arrival. Masking may be required.

Support for this event is provided by Partners for Rural Transformation and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For more on Urban’s funding policies, go to

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event. 





Date & Time Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Urban Institute 500 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington , DC , 20024
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Urban Institute Speakers
  • Director of Federal Equity Initiatives
    Co-Vice President
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Research Analyst
  • Senior Fellow, Research
    Practice Area Lead: Housing as a Platform
  • Principal Research Associate