These are the fighters tirelessly bending the moral arc of the care universe.
Natalie Foster and Aisha Nyandoro are unlikely collaborators in some ways, but they’re united by their fierce pursuit of a more economically just nation. Natalie, co-founder of the Economic Security Project, and a longtime advocate for labor rights and reinvention, supported Aisha, the CEO of Springboard To Opportunities, a housing project in Jackson, Mississippi, to run a first-of-its-kind guaranteed income experiment. The results of giving single, Black moms $1,000 a month for a year have captured the imagination of the nation and garnered them funding for even more moms this year.
Whether testifying in front of Congress or designing programs and policies that honor the miraculous power of babies’ brains, Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor is a force to be reckoned with. She advocates for the conditions - economic, environmental, and cultural - for our youngest and their caregivers to connect in the earliest, most impactful days.
Tameka Henry is a dynamic example of the arc of engagement for care advocacy. She began as a Head Start parent in Las Vegas, NV - moved by the power of early intervention and empowered early to become part of the parent board and other leadership opportunities. Her life’s work quickly became about her four kids and fighting for collective solutions for the most marginalized in her hometown—on food security, on youth engagement, and always, early education. Now she’s running for the school board.
Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, leads a global organization advocating for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. Her work lies at the intersection of humanitarian rights and care, particularly at the US/Mexico border. She’s seen first-hand how failures in U.S. policy affect women and children around the world.
As leaders of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), Jess Morales Rocketto and Palak Shah work with thousands of low-wage workers all over the country to advocate for better labor policies and innovate on real solutions to make their daily lives better—like Alia, an online platform that helps house cleaners access benefits. The Families Belong Together Coalition, another one of their efforts, has been instrumental in raising awareness and funding for the thousands of families that have been separated and detained at the border. Their work reminds us all that policy and innovation are both vital and interrelated to a more functional and fair care system.
Diana "Dede" Yazzie Devine has spent three decades creating a “no wrong door” haven for Native American urban and tribal folks in Arizona. Need affordable housing or job training or childcare? They’ve got you. Need counseling? They’ve got that too—a rich mix of research-based behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, integrated with Native cultural and traditional healing practices. It’s what our first peoples deserve, and it’s all too rare.
Alysia Montaño, Olympic medalist and six-time USA Outdoor Track champion, ran at the USA Nationals Championship while eight months pregnant, shocking the world. Her viral New York Times op-ed: “Nike Told Me to Dream Crazy, Until I Wanted a Baby,” then led to the creation of her new nonprofit organization, &Mother—which aims to challenge the barriers and bias that professional athlete mothers face.
Founded in 1977, NCLR advances the human and civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. As friends, collaborators, and comrades in the cause, Imani and Kate have been adamant that care for all families be a cornerstone of the organization’s focus as it embarks on its fourth decade of fighting for everything from marriage equality to the right of unmarried partners to raise children to establishing protections for transgender parents and children to making sure LGBTQ+ elders can age with dignity.
Dr. Toyin Ajayi believes that all health is local. That’s why the company she co-founded is made up of care teams based in the communities they serve, forging long-term relationships with members by meeting them where they are in their busy lives, and partnering with local community-based organizations. Throw in some custom-built technology and you’ve got a model that is changing the way people think about eliminating disparities in healthcare.
PL+US’ mission says it all: winning high-quality paid family and medical leave for everyone. Katie Bethell - a long-time champion for families with a track record of spearheading impactful policy change - is leading the movement to make paid leave the norm, not the exception. And she and her team are winning, too - they’ve won paid leave for nearly 6 million workers across a range of companies.
Whether it’s a breast pump that doesn’t suck (figuratively speaking) or a platform that makes us feel more functional, these are the people that take an idea and make it real. Thank goodness.
Avni Patel Thompson is no stranger to the entrepreneurial hustle. She’s started not one, not two, but three companies—all in the service of enhancing modern family life. Avni saw countless tools built for every kind of organizational team, except our most central one: the family. In her latest, Milo, she built a hub to make parenting lighter, more collaborative, and more connected.
Wonderschool is unleashing a new wave of childcare micro-entrepreneurs at scale, proving that serving families with small children is big business, the abundance of which we can spread far and wide. The platform supports caregivers and educators to start in-home preschools and child care programs every step of the way, taking some of the friction out of the previous system for both providers and parents. This is a great example of the for-profit sector setting a new bar for the public sector.
It’s hard trying to find a job. It’s even harder when you’re a mother - an estimated 43% of highly skilled women leave the workforce after having kids. Enter: The Mom Project. Allison and Greg Robinson created a talent marketplace that connects accomplished women to world-class companies, with a special interest in helping moms who have left the workforce. They’ve built a talent base of over 275,000 professionals and 2,000 companies, and they’re just getting started.
Most parents are all too familiar with the constant struggle to get kids, especially older ones with sports and other extracurriculars, to all of their activities. Joanna Newman McFarland started HopSkipDrive to give parents back crucial work time and give school systems support in getting kids to classes who don’t live on traditional bus routes. But this isn’t just about reducing the middle-class schlep; their crucial transportation infrastructure helps ensure children with specialized needs, foster children and children experiencing homelessness remain at a consistent school - a huge equity issue.
Dr. Bill Thomas has sparked a movement by which people all over the country are tearing nursing homes down and replacing them with small, home-like environments - what he calls The Green House Project. These smaller dwellings are designed for comprehensive care and maximum joy. This geriatrician believes that how we age is about the stories we tell and he’s writing a better one.
Just as obtaining healthcare in the U.S. is unnecessarily complex, so too is navigating family health benefits. Sarahjane (known as SJ) and her team at Cleo are tackling this challenge head on; Cleo, a family benefits platform for employees, works by assigning guides to parents, such as registered nurses, lactation counselors, and even sleep specialists to help employees manage the transition to parenthood while working. Cleo is part of a growing wave of “care concierge” businesses - bringing the humanity back to tough transition moments.
Kai Stinchcombe and Claire McDonnell protect the financial independence of vulnerable older adults, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addiction via their True Link system and prepaid debit card. The system helps families create safe guardrails for their loved ones while still enabling people to spend on their own within a budget, blocks exploitation related to memory loss, and makes it safe and easy to run errands on others’ behalf. True Link is now used in all 50 states to protect loved ones and give families peace of mind.
What happens when star tech talent takes on parenting? Enter The Ok Company. Founded by a set of executives from TikTok, Headspace, Snap, and Viddy, The Ok Company’s first product is OK Play, an app built for families to create, bond, and grow together through play. They raised an impressive $11M before launch. We’re excited to see them bring more attention to the opportunities in family life and caregiving, and to watch where OK Play goes in the years ahead.
Alexandra Drane is a serial entrepreneur, investor, passionate advocate, and public speaker. Building on her years making the case for caregivers as leaders in healthcare, she is now the co-founder and CEO of ARCHANGELS, a new movement to recognize, reward, and equip those who nurture, heal, and accompany their loved ones with the resources they need to do their best and avoid burnout.
Sara Mauskopf and Anne K. Halsall met as colleagues at their prior company, Postmates, commiserating over the arduous search to find childcare for their young children. They realized that access to childcare was the biggest problem to solve for parents and a critical enabler of the broader economy. Enter Winnie: a marketplace for connecting parents with high quality, affordable daycares and preschools. To date, Winnie has helped connect over 7 million parents with over 200,000 providers across the United States.
These are the best connectors at the party—the ones who know exactly how to make people feel seen and celebrated, seed silo-busting collaborations, and forge common causes.
After experiencing the difficulty of caring for his own grandfather with dementia, Andrew Parker wanted to do something about it. He and co-founder Alfredo Vaamonde teamed up to create Papa, a marketplace that connects young people with older adults for companionship and help with everyday tasks. It’s activating a broader community to take on isolation and loneliness through intergenerational support and connection.
Anne Mosle is one of the country’s most passionate and industrious connectors of people who care. She is the executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, which popularized the idea of two-generation solutions to poverty—those that dismantle structural poverty by meeting the needs of both children and the adults in their lives simultaneously.
Before Facebook, there was CaringBridge, the first and most widely-used social network to provide community for those going through health challenges. At the helm of this global nonprofit is Liwanag Ojala, who leads with compassion to build bridges of care and communication for 40 million people who’ve created their own CaringBridge website to navigate a difficult time. With Liwanag’s leadership, we’re moving closer to a world where no one goes through a health journey alone.
Kathleen Kelly has been fighting for 25 years to make caregiving’s essential and universal nature visible to everyone. The Family Caregiver Alliance is a lifeline for family caregivers, including an online listing with information on services and benefits in each state. They also have a research arm, the National Center on Caregiving, which is surfacing vital information about the future of family caregiving for policymakers and innovators.
Lynn Perkins had the good idea to use her social network to find a babysitter for her kids, and the even better idea to build a platform, with co-founders Daisy Downs and Andrea Barrett, so every other parent could too. UrbanSitter now has over 120,000+ active sitters and nannies on their platform, making it easy for parents to bring in extra help, and making the case for investing in care innovation undeniable. They’ve raised 40 million to date.
Bianca Padilla and Jonathan Magolnick are on a mission to serve the 53 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. - so many of whom report being stressed and burned out to the point of getting sick themselves. They co-founded Carewell, a one-stop marketplace of products, services, and information all vetted by experts. It’s become a lifeline for so many long-term caregivers.
Jai Kissoon and Larry Patterson are early pioneers of the movement to build technologies that improve the lives of families—what is called “famtech.” In 2001, they built OurFamilyWizard, which has helped over 1 million co-parents communicate more effectively and constructively with one another about schedules, money, and the other logistics that invariably create friction in busy family lives.
Wolf+Friends is the membership site these two moms wish they had had when their kids first got diagnoses, a place to get advice, share stories and find support from parents who are raising children with special needs—judgment-free. Members can also connect with experts and access local services in their neighborhoods, making life for caregivers and their little ones that much richer. Carissa and Gena remind us that the best medicine for so many care challenges is connection.
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner is a renaissance woman of the care system. She co-founded and now runs one of the biggest organizing forces of mothers in the nation—MomsRising - while also writing books and articles, making speeches, and hosting a popular radio show—“Breaking Through with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner (Powered by MomsRising).” Her gift is making policy issues and their real world implications crystal clear to average parents, and pointing the way towards meaningful action.
Dr. Katy Fike, in a sense, put aging and long term care innovation on the map by co-founding Aging2.0, the first founders program for early-stage companies working in this space. She not only ignited a global community of innovators to build solutions for older adults, but went on to co-create Generator Ventures, an early-stage venture fund focused on aging.
Every movement has its trailblazers and this one is no different. These are the people who forged the path that the rest of us are trying to walk and widen.
YWCA has been a leading social service agency filling in the care gaps between school, work, and home for over a century. Dorri McWhorter is transforming this 140-year-old institution into a 21st century social enterprise, in one of the nation’s biggest cities. With YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s unique e-commerce platform, online health and wellness information for families, and coding classes for kids, this steadfast entrepreneur is determined not to leave anyone behind.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has worked as a tireless advocate for caregiving for nearly five decades. As the President of The Rosalynn Carter Institute For Caregiving, she’s pioneered countless public awareness initiatives, promoted the mental health of professional caregivers and families, and advanced public policy.
Joyceline has helped care providers - particularly those who help on a non-professional basis - create developmentally enriching experiences and environments for little ones. For over a decade at Arizona Kith and Kin, she’s built innovative educational programs that nurture children, while providing professional development and community building support to their care providers. Her work is particularly crucial because it serves the vast and largely under-the-radar kinship networks that do so much of the foundational caregiving in this country.
Dr. Joan Williams has been writing the story of work, gender, and class for over thirty years through her books and frequently-cited articles in The New York Times and elsewhere. Joan is a professor and the Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and her path-breaking work helped create the field of work-family studies and modern workplace flexibility policies.
Jessica Sager created All Our Kin, her nationally recognized non-profit, long before the current wave of micro-entrepreneurship in childcare. She recognized early on that families needed support in finding quality child care, and that home-based providers needed support in creating rich climates for kids to play and learn, and running small businesses to boot. She set the bar for serving both supply and demand simultaneously, and doing so with love of children always at the center.
As the very first Chief Medical Officer at Best Buy, Dr. Daniel Grossman helps oversee business strategy, corporate development, and strategic partnerships for Best Buy Health. He’s particularly interested in the ways in which technology can aid the average American family in getting health support wherever and whenever the need arises, as well as working on aging-in-place innovations. Meanwhile, in addition to his role at Best Buy, Daniel is a practicing emergency medicine physician at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Patagonia may be best known for its sustainability values, but the company is also a leader in on-site childcare for employers. Co-founder and early-childhood educator, Malinda Chouinard is largely responsible for making this outdoor apparel company a notably humane place to work for women and families. In 1985, Malinda created the Great Pacific Child Development Center, which has since raised fifteen hundred kids, benefitting both employees and the company.
Founder Geoffrey Canada, and current CEO, Kwame Owusu-Kesse, know that transformation within the context of generational poverty requires a birth to college graduation approach. The Harlem Children’s Zone has become a model for similar programs across the nation, which empower parents with the skills and knowledge they need to give their kids the strongest start possible, and then accompany those families unconditionally and comprehensively for the long haul.
Policy, of course, matters deeply when it comes to re-imagining care, but that policy is only as good as the best grassroots, time-tested models that inform it. After over three decades running her own childcare center, Melody Robinson is a master at creating an environment where kids revel in self-directed learning, and passionate about teaching other parents, teachers, and childcare entrepreneurs to do the same.
Kate Torgersen is a tenacious entrepreneur who built the first breast milk shipping service in 2015, when no company of its kind existed. Milkstork recently celebrated shipping over 1 million ounces of breastmilk in partnership with the over 300 companies Milk Stork works with. While our work climate has shifted dramatically this year, we have Kate to thank for building demand for care benefits since 2014.
The care system has been starved for investment for far too long, and these 10 people are on the leading edge of changing that reality.
Serena Williams, superstar athlete who needs no introduction, has become impassioned about equity and care since birthing her own daughter, Olympia Ohanian, three years ago. She and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and venture capitalist, have been investing in care-focused companies, and speaking widely about their conviction that this sector is undervalued and far too important to not be on investors’ radars.
This philanthropist is on a mission to improve the brain development of millions of children. In partnership with her husband, Mike Bezos, she invests in research, public awareness, and programs to elevate the field of child development, particularly in brain development in the key years from birth to age five. No doubt the Bezos Family Foundation has influenced countless other philanthropists to consider this sector a no-brainer return on investment.
Monique is an early stage venture capitalist who’s looking for the unicorns of tomorrow. As Managing Director at Cake Ventures, she’s directed capital towards technology that rides the wave of the so-called “silver tsunami.” In her 2020 report, “Gray New World,” Monique showed a demographic with $7.6 trillion in purchasing power and the need for technology to provide care as they age.
Meet Ashley, a former elementary school operator and recovering finance professional who joined Imaginable Futures as Venture Partner to progress the mission of improving early experiences and brain development in young children. At Imaginable Futures, she oversees their U.S. education strategy and investments, with a particular focus on early care and education.
Meet Alan Patricof and Abby Levy, co-founders of Primetime Partners, who know that those most well-positioned to create solutions and see opportunities in a given sector are those experiencing the problems first-hand. They’re out to build the most prominent investment platform focused on the older adult market by backing, duh, older adults. Keep an eye on this new eco-system of companies and innovation.
Last year, a group of 10 funders announced an ambitious new collaborative, Home Grown, to improve home-based care in the United States for one million young children and their families. Natalie Renew is their tireless leader - finding the latest innovations that need new attention, and the old school interventions that have never gotten enough of it to scale, connecting movers and shakers in the field, and fomenting a sea change in how we think about the very best return on investment for our profoundly unequal society.
Trained as a planner, Dr. Carmen Rojas is on the forefront of thinking about how cities honor their hard workers ambitiously and inventively. Whether she’s investing in movements as a philanthropist, or empowering entrepreneurs and organizers as the Co-Founder and former CEO of The Workers Lab, her true north is scaling real solutions for low-wage workers and their families.
Matt Glickman and Gabe Hakim know that successful innovation takes more than a great idea - it requires network, connections, mentorship, and access to funding that many innovators in early childhood development were missing. Promise Ventures Studio works with social entrepreneurs to drive outcomes for families facing the greatest adversities, and they've been instrumental in growing this field.
This trio of leaders understands that making big progress on gender equality at home, at work, and in society at large is going to require big investment. Elana, Courtney, and Jennifer have created Springbank Collective to mobilize $100M in private capital to accelerate the creation and scale of the tools, products, and services that will eliminate the gender gap. But they’re not just investors, they’re gatherers; the coalitions they’re fomenting are sure to have long-lasting impacts.
Julie and Joanna are the managing partners behind Magnify Ventures, a new fund partnering with founders out to show us caregiving is big business. Magnify Ventures invests in early-stage companies transforming how modern families and communities live, work and care for each other. They’re supporting innovation in modern parenting, the future of childcare, aging and longevity, family health and wellness, and the future of work and care.
Care labor has often been invisible and undervalued. These organizers and allies are elevating critical care work to its rightful place in our society.
These two dynamic organizers lead Caring Across Generations, which is working to bring our caregiving infrastructure into the 21st century, so everyone can age and care with dignity. While Ai-Jen is deservedly one of the most visible leaders within the care system, she is the first to point towards her wealth of collaborators - people like Josephine who has deep roots in direct service work for families. Their shared leadership demonstrates one of the central tenets of the care movement: collaboration is key.
Robert Espinoza, who cut his teeth advocating for care and dignity for aging LGBTQ+ folks, has become one of the country’s leading thinkers on how to fill the significant shortage of home healthcare workers in the United States. As the VP of Policy, Robert oversees national policy advocacy, research, and public education divisions for PHI, an organization with 30-years of experience working alongside the women and men who show up to people’s homes every single day to care for the elderly and disabled.
The AARP, founded over six decades ago, continues to evolve and empower caregivers across the country. Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey advances an intersectional approach to aging, deepening connections with the LGBTQ+ community who have historically been overlooked in too many policy conversations and interventions. Rita Choula, his co-conspirator at AARP, is focused on increasing the quality of life and the skill and knowledge-base for family caregivers, as she did in a series of instructional videos which she produced that support family caregivers who perform complicated medical nursing tasks.
Honor is a celebrated home-care company that connects families with trusted home healthcare providers for parents aging at home. Since founding Honor in 2014, this rockstar team has built bridges between older adults, their children, care professionals, and local agency owners through their scalable workforce management and technology system. They’re also strengthening the home-care industry through the Honor Care Network, a national network of home care agencies.
Organizer-turned-philanthropist Sarita Gupta wants a world where workers’ well-being is at the center of the equation. Her genius lies in her ability to build coalition and common cause for real policy solutions, as she did in her previous role at Caring Across Generations. She’s been connecting people and causes for decades at the grassroots, and now she’s able to nurture the soil where structural change starts.
Let’s face it: we have a tyranny of low expectations when it comes to designing public services. This trio of innovators are challenging that culture, starting with Fresh EBT, which now helps over 4.5 million families manage their government benefits, save money on groceries, and earn extra income. This is just the start of this team's vision to give our most precarious Americans the most elegantly designed care.
Much is made of the profound damage wrought by the current state of our criminal justice system, but the stories of the family members-mostly women of color - of those who are incarcerated are rarely heard and their struggle to stay connected to those they love rarely honored. Recognizing this, lawyer Gina Clayton-Johnson created Essie Justice Group, which nurtures these women through the trauma of separation and trains them to advocate for reform, like ending cash bail.
For too long we’ve understood poverty, and the barriers to care that come with it, as an individual, rather than a collective problem. The Family Independence Initiative is on the cutting edge of changing that - providing groups of low-income families with direct cash, and trusting them to invest it together in solutions they think will uplift everyone. Jesús Gerena, who has been with the organization for a decade, and his team, set new standards in the social sector for what investing in care looks and feels like.
Silent. Cordless. Mobile. Compact. Dignifying. All these qualities are what Noami Kelman and John Chang set out to achieve when they embarked on the journey to redesign the breast pump. The result? Willow, a long overdue state-of-the-art breast pump that works discreetly inside a woman’s bra, collects milk in an enclosed leak-proof bag, and tracks milk volume with an app. Hallelujah!
The retail sector - with behemoths like Amazon and Walmart in the mix - is one of the most important and telling places to look to the status of care for working families. Andrea Dehlendorf, recognizing this, has spent a career organizing workers for more stable schedules, pregnancy accommodations, and paid family leave - among so much else. Her big victories remind the care movement that we must not settle for small, elite wins.
These writers and artists are telling fresh, accurate stories about who we are and how we show up for one another.
Dr. Sarche, of Obijwe descent, has been working with tribal communities for more than 20 years to understand the structural barriers their families face, particularly when it comes to caring for little ones, and the ingenuity they possess to dismantle them. She has built deep roots in Head Start and home visiting programs, and is leveraging those relationships to continue to gather the kind of data - statistics and stories - that can transform how tribal families grow and thrive.
Claire Cain Miller’s Pulitzer Prize winning journalism continues to surface the most central conversations on family caregiving - where we’re struggling and how we’re problem solving, but also the systemic dimensions so often overlooked by frames like “work-life balance.” Look for her steady stream of fresh, rigorous reporting at the Upshot, a New YorkTimes site for analysis of policy and economics.
Mia Birdsong is determined to tell a more enlivening, accurate story about how we actually care for one another in America. She co-founded Family Story, an organization focused on updating our ideas about the American family (now run by Nicole Rogers), and most recently she’s been shaping public discourse through her book, How We Show Up. Whether she’s interviewing single, Black moms for her podcast on guaranteed income, put out by The Nation, or challenging the philanthropic sector to get more ambitious about radical redistribution, she’s undaunted and unapologetically joyful.
Zun Lee is an internationally recognized photographer whose beautiful series, Father Figure, captures mundane moments between Black fathers and their children. Seen in concert, these images feel like a picture of something sacred and deeply misunderstood in our culture. The series is made all the more poignant given that Zun Lee discovered that his own biological father was not Korean, as he had thought, but Black when he was in his late 30s.
Both Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter and Brigid Schulte have given us absorbing books on family and care - Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family and Overwhelmed: Work, Love & Play when No One has the Time, respectively - as well as a treasure trove of real policy solutions, through their work at New America. Anne-Marie runs the whole shop and Brigid is the founding director of The Good Life Initiative and director of The Better Life Lab. Together, they embody the feminist truth about getting to real equity: it’s going to take dogged determination in drawing the line between the personal and the political.
These documentary filmmakers brought a joy-filled, paradigm-shifting story to life - that of Camp Jened, which started in the early 1970s as a ramshackle camp for disabled kids and transformed into the core of the disability rights movement. Jim Lebrecht, typically a sound designer, had his first directorial experience on this film - a fitting honor since he, himself, was a product of Camp Jened’s utopian power and political genius. Notably: this was also the first documentary film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
Mamas Day, originally a project of nonprofit organization Forward Together, is heading into its eleventh year of commissioning artists to create beautiful imagery of the caregivers who are so often left out of Hallmark Card-versions of our families and holidays: young mamas, working mamas, immigrant mamas, single mamas, incarcerated mamas among them. The ways in which these diverse artists paint pictures of the beauty, complexity, and power of mamas, specifically women of color, is a sight to behold, not to mention a social media phenomena worth spreading.
With a new generation having kids and a sea of digital content focused on moms alone, Michael Rothman and his co-founder spotted an opportunity: build a new media company that could speak directly to men’s parenting journey. Fatherly started as a newsletter and has since grown into a digital lifestyle brand that provides news, expert advice, and product recommendations for parents and dads.
Linking caregivers together, and giving them the inspiration and information they need to keep going, is a big, neglected business opportunity and a moral calling. The Mighty, which does just that, was born out of Mike Porath’s determination to create the site and the network that he and his wife so longed to find when their own children were given serious diagnoses early on in their family journey. Not only has he met his own needs, but helped the two million registered users find support all over the world.
Parental leave for dads is one of the most effective long-term investments in shifting gender stereotypes. When men take parental leave, it affirms that caregiving is everyone’s responsibility, helps improve pay equity, and makes it easier for everyone to live out their full potential. Dr. Gary Barker and Tolu Lawrence of Promundo, a global leader in engaging men in gender equality, teamed up with Carlos-Javier Gil and Sana Suh of Dove Men+Care to ensure more men have access to leave. Through the Parental Leave Corporate Task Force, they’re convening leading companies to drive uptake of parental leave for all men.
Whether medical doctors or social workers, program designers or start-up CEOs, these huge-hearted humans know that life is inevitably interwoven with loss, but also resilience.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris popularized the concept of toxic stress - the idea that you can not only measure, but ameliorate the stress that damages kids’ physical and mental health - and built a first-of-its-kind clinic oriented around it. Then she published a beautiful memoir, From the Deepest Well, and made history by becoming the very first surgeon general of California. She is a model of transforming medical research into power for the people.
The last decade has been an unprecedented time of pulling back the curtain on death and dying, and shining a light on the beauty of hospice care throughout the nation. But no one has done more to further dignity at the time of death among the most marginalized than nurse Ladybird Morgan and advocate Marvin Mutch (who was wrongly convicted of a crime he didn’t do and served 41 years, as a result). Together, they co-founded the Humane Prison Hospice Project in San Quentin Prison which trains prisoners to accompany one another through death, and is being scaled throughout the country.
Youth Villages, under the direction of 40-year Executive Director Patrick Lawler, has pioneered a program called Intercept, which is based on the realization that the first, best thing that social workers can do for foster kids is prevent them from ever entering the system in the first place. Many kids go into foster care because their families are in crises, not because they are abused; recognizing this, Lawler’s organization started a program offering intensive in-home treatment programs for the entire family when their are kids who are at risk of being removed from their home. It’s become a model for others around the country and challenged the foster care system to reckon with its notorious dysfunction.
Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th U.S. Surgeon General, and Dr. Alice Chen, a medically trained doctor and public health expert, have teamed up to make sure that America understands just how deadly isolation is, and how much we can do about it if we work together. Whether founding organizations, like Doctors for America, or writing a bestselling book on loneliness and speaking on throughout the country, they are out to remind us that relationships are the best medicine.
Social worker and researcher Dr. Brenda Krauss Eheart couldn’t stand listening to any more traumatic narratives of foster kids bouncing from home to home, so she decided to do something about it. A big something. She negotiated with the Pentagon for an abandoned military base, and used it to build the first-of-its-kind intergenerational community made up of foster kids, their families, and surrogate grandparents. Generations of Hope Housing, as it became known, is a template for other community configurations where mutual vulnerability is turned into cooperative uplift.
Charles Clayton Daniels, Jr. is a wounded healer - a Black man who took the pain of missing his own father’s presence growing up and turned it into fuel to create the very first stand alone mental health and substance abuse clinic specifically for fathers in the country. He’s scaling his model - which combines traditional therapy with a holistic approach, partnering with community agencies to help fathers get on their feet and get reconnected to their kids.
When Lindsay Jurist-Rosner was nine years old, she took on the most important job that she has held to date - a caregiver for her mother who had multiple sclerosis. It lasted for 28 years, and yet, so few of her friends and employers realized the toll it took on her. Lindsay teamed up with Kevin Roche to co-found Wellthy, a company that provides personalized coaches to help you tackle the logistical and administrative tasks of caring for someone you love, particularly during the moment of onset or crisis. Individuals can sign up, but employers are also signing up in droves - recognizing that productivity and retention soar when employees feel seen and honored as caregivers.
Rachel Cargle’s instagram account - with 1.9M followers, the majority of them white - has been described as a virtual classroom for those interested in learning about and taking anti-racist action. Rachel is undaunted as she breaks the world down for her dedicated fan base, but she’s also a genius at leveraging their good will. She started the Loveland Foundation, which funds free therapy for Black women and girls, and healing for communities of color; her social media fans donated $250,000 in mere days.
Alexandra Quinn, CEO of Health Leads, and Dr. Nirav R. Shah, Chief Medical Officer at doc.ai and Senior Scholar at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, are the dynamic duo who are largely credited with popularizing the now hugely influential framework of the “social determinants of health.” In collaboration with Kaiser Permanente, Health Leads convened a working group of 23 visionaries in 2015 - leaders dedicated to considering all the dynamics that affect a person’s health (economics, environment, education etc.) that don’t normally make it into a patient’s chart. The working group resulted in the development of The Essential Needs Roadmap, a framework to guide health and community leaders in working towards a shared vision for the future of holistic healthcare delivery in the U.S., particularly to the most marginalized.
Melissa Hanna and Linda Hanna (a daughter-mother duo!), and their co-founder Sunny Walia co-founded Mahmee to ensure that all moms and babies get the care they deserve. Mahmee brings the maternal and infant health care ecosystem together; moms get better care through lactation, nutrition and mental health support services, while hospitals and health providers have increased communication, coordination and support for new parents and their babies.
These people are enlightening us on how to help, ask for help, and are encouraging us to see ourselves as teachers too.
Mia Mingus is a writer, educator, and organizer for disability and transformative justice. She is passionate about building the skills, relationships and structures that can transform violence within our communities instead of relying on punitive approaches. Mia helped create the disability justice framework and her blog, Leaving Evidence, has become a staple resource for anyone wanting to learn about disability.
Veronica Crespin-Palmer is leading a sea change in Aurora, Colorado, where the parents who have historically been the most marginalized - undocumented, Latinx, those experiencing poverty - are now organized, demanding that their kids get the education they deserve. Her work demonstrates just how intertwined our education and care systems are, and how much transformation is possible.
Sandra Gutierrez has been listening to, honoring, and supporting parents her entire career, which ultimately led her to the founding of Abriendo Puertas in 2007. Developed by and for Latinx parents with children ages 0-5, Abriendo Puertas is an evidenced-based training program that supports parents as their children’s first and most influential teacher. The program is delivered through partners in over 400 cities and has reached over 115,000 parents.
Everyone knows the brilliant art and impact of the television show, Sesame Street, but not as many realize that there is a powerful advocacy force behind the show. In her role as Senior Vice President for U.S. Social Impact at Sesame Workshop, Dr. Jeanette Betancourt is responsible for scaling what they call “the Sesame effect” - the popular characters speak to and heal the trauma of children and their families at the deepest level through research-based programming. Her work is an important reminder that pop culture is often the most potent source for societal shifts around care.
Whether self-publishing their wildly successful The Radical Doula Guide or writing in The New York Times about care innovations like those that diminish Black childhood and maternal mortality, Cuban-American writer Miriam Zoila Pérez is usually ahead of the curve on care and teaching us all what they see around the bend. Pérez is also a direct service provider - an experienced birth and abortion doula and certified massage therapist.
Charli Cooksey created WEPOWER to activate the latent wisdom of Black and Latinx communities, to ensure our systems - economic, health, education,and justice - are just and equitable for all. Through their inaugural class of Tomorrow Builders Fellows, one system WEPOWER is starting with is St. Louis’ early childhood education system, and they’ve crafted a community-designed playbook to highlight the way forward.
Erasma Beras-Monticciolo knows that healing from toxic stress is not only possible, but has ripple effects; when individuals heal, families heal, and communities heal. Power of Two, the organization she co-founded and leads, meets with parents over the course of 10 hour-long sessions, coaching them on how to interact sensitively and responsively to their young children, as well as connecting them with needed resources. Their model shows that a little bit of intervention at the right time, with the right approach, can have generational impact.
Talking about death isn’t easy and neither is planning for the end of life of a loved one. Suelin Chen is hoping to ease the way into these challenging, but fundamental, conversations with Cake, a digital health startup that simplifies end-of-life planning and advance care decisions. She hopes to take the mystery out of everything from finances to funeral arrangements, so we can tend to the real sacred mystery of saying goodbye.
With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, Helen Adeosun knows that America needs to make big investments in the caregiving workforce. CareAcademy, which she founded in 2013, partners with organizations like homecare agencies to provide training to their employees, improving their skills and knowledge for this underrecognized and profoundly important work. Helen and her team have reached over 110,000 caregivers to date.
Sometimes the hardest part of parenting is not having the village, but mobilizing them when you most need it. Jaime-Jin Lewis understood this first-hand, which is why she created Wiggle Room, a platform that allows users to seamlessly let their friends and family know when they have a last-minute childcare crisis and get help. Beyond that, Jaime-Jin has organized two childcare COVID initiatives: Workers Need Childcare (helping essential workers find safe, affordable childcare) and Care Together NYC (a mutual aid platform dedicated to helping struggling parents pay for childcare in these uncertain times).
These are the people that can see just beyond the horizon to the policies, products, and cultural jumpstarts that will better our common life.
This hometown boy and young mayor cut his teeth working with the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, with a special focus on early childhood policy and programming. Since taking office, he’s brought that same conviction for anti-racist, multi-generational intervention, most recently creating an 18-month guaranteed income program that will give up to 150 of St. Paul’s poorest families $500 monthly payments.
If you want to know what a new generation of economists are uncovering about the fundamental problems, and potential solutions, in our economy - with a particular passion for the overlooked locus of care - look no further than Dr. Heather Boushey. Author of Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict and adviser to Hillary Clinton and, though unofficial, Joe Biden, Dr. Boushey could have an outsized influence on the future of care policy in the years ahead.
Rajiv’s mission is simple, yet revolutionary – bring about transformative change in how we care for our own by making the invisible visible. After noting the scarcity of detailed data about care in day-to-day lives, this former NASA scientist established nonprofit Atlas of Caregiving, which develops methods people use to better see care and wellbeing in their lives, and strengthen their communal bonds.
Indra Nooyi knows how hard life is for working moms. As the CEO of Pepsi for over 12 years, she had to make accommodations to raise her two kids and experienced how balancing motherhood and work was simply not sustainable, even for someone in her privileged position. After stepping down from Pepsi, she’s focusing on finding systemic solutions to address the care crisis due to a shortage of caregivers to look after young children and the elderly.
What if the convenience and cost competitiveness of Walmart was applied to healthcare? Marcus Osborne is experimenting around this question through Walmart Health, a new line of affordable, transparent, customer-centered clinics that integrate a range of health services, from primary care to counseling to diagnostics. Their first six clinics are up and running and 96% of patients report they feel cared for. Next up: scale and refine.
Timothy Sheehan and Johnson Cook are demonstrating that investing in the unique needs of parents is a massive market opportunity. Greenlight, valued at $1.2B with their most recent funding round, provides parents with a debit card and a digital system that helps them teach their kids healthy financial habits. They’re already serving more than two million parents and kids.
Joe Fuller is trying to teach the next generation of business leaders, and influence those already in the hot seat, to see their employees’ caregiving roles as fundamental to their ability to show up at work, stay relevant, and stay profitable. His popular lecture courses, frequent writing and research, such as the Caring Company Report, and work as co-lead of the Project on Managing the Future of Work is changing policy and practice all over the nation.
Susan Golden, who was trained as both a public health expert and a business entrepreneur, sees what too many others can’t: that our longer life spans are changing everything. As the founder of the Innovation Hub at Stanford Center on Longevity, she is focused on highlighting the wide range of solutions being built right now that are going to transform the future of aging. Investors would be wise to follow her lead, with an eye toward thriving and equity in our longer and longer “third acts.”
A former Army Signal Officer and the mother of a veteran herself, Dr. Lynda Davis knows that caregiving is central to the lives of those who serve in the military, and those that love them. In her role as the Chief Veterans Experience Officer for the VA, she’s been dogged about improving the systems and services that veterans and their families are offered, as well as being sure that those who lose a loved one are honored and accompanied. Her long career co-designing healing, comprehensive programs for veterans reminds us how much we owe those in uniform, and how far we still have to go in ensuring they get the support they need.
Emily Oster is an economist, researcher, and writer who cuts through dogma on everything from daycare during COVID-19 to sushi while pregnant, and gives her audience the unvarnished truth. Her books, Expecting Better and Cribsheet, along with her other writing, have liberated a generation of parents from some of their most irrational, middle-of-the-night fears and brought a new rigor to the national conversation about caregiving.