Meet Our 2023 Award Winners: Bonnie Ewald - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Meet Our 2023 Award Winners: Bonnie Ewald

August 23, 2023

Health & Medicine’s Emerging Leader Award recognizes leaders with fewer than 15 years of experience who are currently involved in community-based work with broadly defined public health implications.

Bonnie Ewald, one of two 2023 recipients, is a dedicated public service professional working at the intersection of health care and social service delivery, health policy, research, and education to improve our problematic health care system, and ultimately, improve health and quality of life for marginalized communities.

In her work as a manager in the Social Work and Community Health department at Rush University Medical Center, Bonnie collaborates with clinical leaders to develop, evaluate, and sustain initiatives provided by social workers, community health workers, and AmeriCorps members that improve quality of care and life. She also serves as the Managing Director of the Center for Health and Social Care Integration (CHaSCI), a training and policy center that works in collaboration with local and national partners.

Working broadly to make our care systems more effective, Bonnie leads various efforts to train and secure financing for interprofessional providers who promote health, address health-related social needs, and provide mental health care. “Unfortunately, our care system is a patchwork quilt of sorts, so people fall through the cracks every day,” she shares. “To improve gaps in outcomes, we must align systems and have a skilled workforce in various settings to get people what they need.”

Through her work at CHaSCI, Bonnie develops and implements education and training initiatives to spread best practices in care management and social care, advocates for workforce investments, and promotes policy changes to prevent and address health-related social needs. Via CHaSCI’s Coalition for Social Work and Health, she manages a national campaign for the value of social work in improving the nation’s health. Her work at Rush also involves the Center for Excellence in Aging bimonthly American Society on Aging Chicagoland Roundtable. 

In addition to these roles, Bonnie serves as a member on committees for the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs, the American Society on Aging, West Side United, and Health & Medicine’s Center for Long-Term Care Reform and Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship.

“Being recognized as an emerging leader by an organization I respect so much is quite an honor,” Bonnie says, reflecting on working behind the scenes to advance incremental change while also keeping her foot in larger systems change efforts — a balance she maintains as part of the Health & Medicine community.

“This is a reminder that despite my regular feelings of cynicism and defeat, the work I’m doing is helping advance the overall movement.”

Bonnie’s academic work includes serving as assistant professor and adjunct faculty member in Rush University’s Department of Social Work and Department of Health Systems Management, respectively, and teaching a graduate course in aging policy for the Department of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.   

Bonnie earned her Master of Public Policy from the Harris School at the University of Chicago in 2018 and has a post-graduate certificate in Sustainable Urban Design from Archeworks (2013), a Perinatal Educator Certificate from the Midwest Maternal Child Institute (2012), and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2011). 

“In the coming year, I am prioritizing making progress on getting Medicare, Medicaid, and public health response systems to recognize the value of work performed by social workers and community health workers for ensuring people get the care they need across systems,” she says. “This is critical as we work to maintain and continue investing in the workforce we’ve been able to build during the last few years with federal public health funding.”

Join us on September 20, 2023, as we connect honor these local health justice advocates, enjoy food and refreshments from The Fat Shallot, and celebrate 42 years of working together to advance health equity.