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Award Recipient

Healthcare Georgia Foundation proudly announces the establishment of the Health Equity Award recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of its inaugural recipient, the Partnership for Southern Equity.  This annual award is bestowed upon an organization who best exemplifies the values and principles of health equity.


The Foundation’s mission and north star is health equity where all Georgians are able to achieve the fullest potential for health and well-being. Believing Georgians regardless of age, gender, race, culture, education, income, or geography can never achieve their fullest potential for health without a true commitment to health equity, Healthcare Georgia Foundation seeks to uplift the passion and commitment of the public and private sectors to eliminate inequities in health, advance social justice, end structural and systemic racism, and acknowledge and unconditionally address the unequal treatment of vulnerable populations.

Because we believe that the conditions that affect one of us are understood to affect us all, the Foundation will honor those recipients who distinguish themselves by:

  • Inspiring leaders for health equity
  • Stimulating public discourse on what improves health
  • Opening new pathways to better health for all Georgians
  • Aligning investments with the upstream determinants of health
  • Identifying promising programs, policies, and practices
  • Establishing health equity metrics
  • Creating a culture of partnership, collaboration and collective impact
  • Advancing thought leadership on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Discovering solutions to inequities among those most adversely affected
  • Recognizing the power of advocacy and amplifying voices
  • Developing new practice informed standards for health equity work

For further information about the Health Equity Award and the selection process, please contact Rachael Dempsey at

Dr. Gary Nelson, President of Healthcare Georgia Foundation, presented Nathaniel Smith, Founder and Chief Equity Officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity, with the inaugural Health Equity Award via a recorded video call. You can view the full award presentation below. 

About the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE)

Founded in 2008, the Partnership for Southern Equity has proven to be a force of nature in the pursuit of equity not only for residents of Atlanta, but for all of Georgia. The energy and passion that fuels this organization forward in its mission can also be found individually among its members; from those who hold leadership positions, and all the way through to its volunteers. Throughout its journey thus far, PSE continues to radiate an undeniable charisma that naturally draws interest and engagement from the communities in which it serves.

By utilizing a multi-system approach with four portfolios (Just Health, Just Energy, Just Growth, and Just Opportunity), PSE is focused on tackling a diverse variety of issues that affect underserved Georgians. This strategy seeks to address not only the big-picture needs of vulnerable populations, but to also provide assistance for everyday problems.

In successfully establishing strong partnerships, the Partnership for Southern Equity has also been at the forefront of several successful policy initiatives created to both elevate and enable a wide range of communities throughout the state. With the outstanding work that PSE has accomplished since its formation, the possibilities of their future achievements are truly a wellspring of hope for Georgia’s residents.


Accolades from the Field

“The Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) is a transformative organization that is deeply committed to erasing barriers that stand in the way of all people having a chance, a quality of life, and an opportunity to succeed. There are few organizations that have the leadership and courage to take a stand for equity and are willing to create a change agenda around equitable development, health and energy equity, and economic inclusion. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”  In my opinion, PSE is breaking barriers to serve as a courageous champion for people and communities, and Nathaniel Smith is a powerful leader who represents the very best of all of us — a changemaker who is willing to speak a new world into existence.” 

Janine Lee, CEO, Southeastern Council of Foundations

“In so many ways the 21st century has changed the way we think, we research, we communicate, we document and we act, yet in the social sector the game is still very much the same; however, the Partnership for Southern Equity has been a game changer in Atlanta over the past decade. It has been encouraging to bear witness to its transformation from an idea that rested within the (former) Office of University Community Partnerships at Emory University to a community based organization that is touching all parts of Georgia and addressing the range of issues impacting equity in the “dirty south.”  In the early days, my colleague traveled with Phillip Rush, Nathaniel Smith and other Atlanta leaders to the 2008 “National Summit on Equitable Development, Social Justice and Smart Growth” in New Orleans and they returned with “higher fire in their belly” and a commitment to build a movement focused on equity.  As the nation was silently heading towards an unfathomable housing and economic crisis, the seeds of resistance against business as usual were planted in the spring of 2008 and eventually the Partnership for Southern Equity was born.  A decade later, I was fortunate to be invited to join the Atlanta delegation to the spring 2018 PolicyLink “Equity Summit” in Chicago and the Partnership for Southern Equity provided briefings in advance and organized our delegates to take advantage of the opportunities to connect with 4,000 kindred spirits from across the country.  It was a phenomenal gathering that inspired our Atlanta and Georgia leaders to act when we got back.  In this new world order we must applaud the Partnership for Southern Equity for crafting a lens on equity that is part of our 2020 vision!”

-Atiba Mbiwan, Zeist Foundation

“As a partner in supporting The Two Georgias Initiative, Georgia Health Decisions values the profound contribution The Partnership for Southern Equity continues to make for the eleven rural Georgia communities tirelessly working to improve health equity. 

Based on our experience working together, we believe PSE makes a crucial difference by:

  • Putting racism at the forefront of deliberations about how to move toward equity/health equity;
  • Raising awareness of the health impacts of racial inequity today by making explicit the history of structural and institutionalized racism in the rural communities with whom they are engaged;
  • Helping communities have difficult conversations and surface shared values related to equity;
  • Impressing upon local partnerships the importance of shared power in decision-making and meaningful participation in planning – creating the conditions for community members to co-design and implement programs that have greater relevance and impact;
  • Being present in communities because they believe it is crucial for supporting local and regional system transformation;
  • Seeking innovative partnerships to further the cause of health equity; 
  • Calling on all involved in The Two Georgias Initiative to reflect on their own explicit and implicit biases and how they show up in all we do;
  • Consistently, passionately adhering to their mission to “advance policies and institutional actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in the growth of metropolitan Atlanta and the American South.”

Beverly Tyler, Georgia Health Decisions and Tina Anderson Smith 

For further information about the Health Equity Award and the selection process, please contact Rachael Dempsey at

All images courtesy of the Partnership for Southern Equity.

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