JSPAN Honors Allyson Schwartz

With great pride JSPAN bestowed its 11th Annual Social Justice Award on Hon. Allyson Y. Schwartz at a gala ceremony on May 12 at the Independence Visitor Center. Speakers npted her decades of dedication to serving the best interests of Pennsylvania’s families. Prior to holding elected office, Schwartz was commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services and founder and director of the Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center for Women. As a member of the State Senate, she was the architect and steward of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). During most of her ten productive years in the U.S. House of Representatives, she was the only woman in Pennsylvania’s 20-member delegation. Schwartz was appointed to the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee in just her second term and served as the second ranking member on the Budget Committee. Her expertise and involvement in health policy included her leadership role in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Her efforts as the 2010-2012 National Chair for Recruitment and Candidate Service at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee resulted in the most diverse class of freshman Democratic members of Congress in history. Today, Allyson Schwartz continues her work on national health policy as President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance, a national advocacy coalition, and as co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Health and Housing for Seniors.

Allyson's friend and Executive Director of Maternity Care Coalition aptly summed up her approach to public work:

"Allyson has always been a straight shooter. She works hard and never loses sight of the people she is working for. She is always strategic and too frequently has had to work around male political bosses who’ve seen her as too independent or worse irrelevant – at their own peril. She was never one of the guys. Twice they redistricted her, assuming that she couldn’t possibly appeal to both an urban and suburban, working class and affluent constituencies. She could, and she did. I remember her Congressional seat was definitely a swing district that she worked relentlessly to secure. Today, despite redistricting, that district is now considered one of the safest Democratic seats in PA. Allyson is a rare political breed - passionate and principled. She has shown courage, compassion and independence throughout her career….

Throughout her career in politics, Allyson has sought to help ensure that more women and people from diverse backgrounds not just seek office, but have the resources and support to win. In fact, she helped elect the most diverse class of Democratic members of Congress in the 2012 election, and there are so many elected officials in Pennsylvania that can point to her support –financial support, advice, guidance and other support – as a gamechanger.

At a time when we see politicians in federal court, wearing wires, coping plea deals and behaving unethically, I yearn for Allyson’s clarity and integrity. She is truly a mensch…."

(Photo caption, l to r: JSPAN Executive Director Rabbi GEorge Stern, JSPAN President Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, JoAnne Fischer (Executive Director of Maternity Care Coalition), Hon. Allyson Y. Schwartz, Event co-chairs Ruth Damsker and Jill Katz Zipin (JSPAN Vice Presidents.)