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February 01, 2013

Rebecca Onie, CEO of Health Leads, to Speak at 2013 Commencement

Rebecca Onie, 2013 Commencement speakerPresident Janis P. Bellack announced today that Rebecca Onie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads, will deliver the keynote address at MGH Institute of Health Professions’ 2013 Commencement on Thursday, May 9, 2013. Health Leads is a non-profit organization that works to expand the capacity of health care providers to address the basic resource needs of patients and families, needs that are often at the root causes of poor health such as food, utilities, housing and transportation.

As a sophomore at Harvard University in 1996, Ms. Onie and Dr. Barry Zuckerman at Boston Medical Center co-founded what was originally called Project HEALTH. After serving as the organization’s executive director from 1997-2000, she attended Harvard Law School where she was editor of the Harvard Law Review and research assistant for Professors Laurence Tribe and Lani Guinier.

Ms. Onie also clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and was an associate at Miner, Barnhill & Galland P.C., a civil rights and community economic development firm. During this time, she co-chaired Health Leads’ Board of Directors.

In 2006, she returned as CEO of Health Leads, which now operates in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, New York, Providence, and Washington, D.C. Last year, Health Leads’ corps of nearly 1,000 college volunteers assisted nearly 9,000 low-income patients and their families in accessing food, heat, employment, and other basic resources they need to be healthy. In 2009, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation named Health Leads a Vulnerable Populations Portfolio grantee, investing $2 million to support its work.

Ms. Onie is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a U.S. Ashoka Fellow. She received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2009, honoring Americans under the age of 40 whose commitment to service is changing their communities and the country; Harvard’s Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award in 2008 for outstanding contributions to the advancement of women; and the Do Something Brick Award for Community Leadership in 1999, for dynamic young people under the age of thirty with the passion and drive to improve their communities.

She is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization and the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation’s External Advisory Council.

In 2009, Ms. Onie was honored to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, for “individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” More recently, O! Magazine named her to its 2010 Power List of twenty women who are “changing the world for the better.” In 2011, she was named to Forbes Magazine’s Impact 30, which recognizes the world’s top 30 social entrepreneurs.

She co-authored the Forbes Magazine March 7, 2013 article, "Realigning Health with Care," with Partners In Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer, who spoke at the Institute's 2006 Commencement.

Ms. Onie graduated from Harvard University in 1998, and from Harvard Law School in 2003.

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