Meet Our 2023 Award Winners: Katie Thiede - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

Connect & Follow Us

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group Logo

Go Back

Meet Our 2023 Award Winners: Katie Thiede

August 9, 2023

Health & Medicine’s Policy Award recognizes an individual working in advocacy, government, media, or philanthropy whose work encompasses the many facets of policy analysis, development, planning, and implementation.

This year’s recipient, Katie Thiede, is a tireless champion for health equity and access to high-quality reproductive health care. With 20 years of experience at the helm of social change organizations, she has earned a reputation as an influential leader, disruptor, and reproductive health policy expert with sharp business acumen and a strong track-record of leveraging public-private partnerships to accelerate impact.

Katie has spent the last decade of her career in Chicago leading reproductive health and rights organizations. Her experience, relationships, and tenacity enable her to drive Illinois Contraceptive Access Now’s (ICAN!’s) ambitious agenda, pursue innovative and scalable solutions, build effective coalitions and partnerships, and mobilize resources to advance ICAN!’s mission and vision. Launched in January 2021, ICAN! is a statewide initiative aiming to de-silo, de-stigmatize, and normalize birth control as basic health care. It is the first contraceptive access initiative to focus specifically on optimizing and implementing progressive contraceptive care policies.

“I share this award with every member of the ICAN! team,” Katie says. “They are the most brilliant, creative, committed, and tenacious people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and working beside.”

The hallmark of ICAN!’s 2022 policy agenda was advancing a model Family Planning State Plan Amendment which expanded coverage eligibility for family planning and related services for 1.2 million Illinoisans.

“Health & Medicine has been on the forefront of advancing health equity for decades, and it is truly humbling to receive the 2023 Policy Award from such an inspired organization, especially at this critical moment for reproductive health,” Katie reflects. “It is my sincere hope that this recognition will further galvanize support for expanding progressive contraceptive care policies. With millions of women and people who can become pregnant recently denied their right to reproductive autonomy, it has never been more important that they can easily access the birth control of their choice.”

In her previous role as the CEO of Bright Pink—a national breast and ovarian cancer prevention organization—Katie led the effort to significantly scale the reach of innovative digital tools and programs, including Assess Your Risk, which helped over 1 million women assess their personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer. As the VP of Development for Planned Parenthood of Illinois, she tripled annual philanthropic revenue to north of $12 million and supported the organization’s most significant policy efforts of the past several years: removing Medicaid abortion coverage restrictions, increasing Medicaid coverage for the most effective birth control methods, protecting patients’ right to reproductive health information under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, and requiring insurance coverage of up to 12 months of birth control without cost-sharing.

Katie has also held leadership roles at the Chinook Fund, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Rape Assistance and Awareness Program, and as an experienced public speaker and media spokesperson on the topic of women’s health, has been featured in outlets such as the 2018 Women’s March Chicago, United States of Women, ABC7, CBSN, WBEZ, WCIU, tastytrade, and 23andMe’s SPIT Podcast. Katie earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is an active member of the Reproductive Health Advocates Coalition, Protect Our Care Illinois Coalition, and former Funding Exchange Board Member and Juno4Me Advisor. In 2022, Katie was recognized as an inaugural New Profit Health Equity Fellow.

In the year ahead, ICAN!’s work will remain more important than ever. “This year, we will develop a more robust contraceptive care workforce, deepen community partnerships, and optimize payment and coverage so that unfettered access to high quality contraceptive care is a reality for all.”

Katie lives on the south side of Chicago with her husband and 12-year-old son. She is an avid long-distance runner, always pushing herself to go farther, faster—an approach she applies to her career as a social entrepreneur. Her life’s mission is to ensure that everyone can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to be pregnant or parent.

“I’ve spent the last decade of my career in Chicago leading reproductive health and rights organizations, working to address the profound disparities in reproductive health access and outcomes faced by BIPOC individuals and people with the fewest resources. While our focus at ICAN! is on advancing contraceptive equity, we see our work as part of a broader movement to shift the underlying conditions that create health inequities across the lifespan.”

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.