February 19, 2020

Building a stronger health safety net in Atlanta

Evonne Yancey recognized for her work to provide affordable health care to those most in need.

Evonne Yancey receives the 2020 George Halvorson Community Health Leadership Award

Poor patients paid Evonne Yancey’s grandfather, a doctor in Columbia, South Carolina, with pies, chickens, and cakes when they couldn’t afford his services. Throughout her childhood, Yancey watched him and other family members connect people with the health care they needed.

This sparked in Yancey a desire to focus on access to care for those who are most in need.

“Similar to Kaiser Permanente’s today, my grandfather’s goal was to make sure his patients got the best care he could deliver — with no barriers,” said Yancey.

Yancey served as director of Community Benefit for Kaiser Permanente’s Georgia Region for 26 years, supporting the organization’s work to improve health and health access. She retired in 2012, but continues to improve health in her community by:

  • Chairing the board of Mercy Care, Atlanta’s only health care for the homeless program
  • Working with other community leaders to launch the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement, ARCHI, which combines 100 agencies and organizations, including Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, to address the causes of poor health in metro Atlanta
  • Serving on the board of Project Healthy Grandparents, a nonprofit that supports grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Volunteering to prepare meals for Meals on Wheels

“Similar to Kaiser Permanente’s today, my grandfather’s goal was to make sure his patients got the best care he could deliver — with no barriers.”

Honored for her efforts

Yancey’s dedication prompted the Community Health Awards Committee of the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors to award her the 2020 George Halvorson Community Health Leadership Award. George Halvorson served as Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente from 2002 to 2013. Yancey has chosen ARCHI, the nonprofit partnership she helped create, to receive a $10,000 donation from Kaiser Permanente in her name.

“We are thrilled to honor and recognize Evonne Yancey,” said Cynthia Telles, PhD, Community Health Committee board chair. “She continues to be an effective voice for vulnerable populations in our most underserved areas.”

“Evonne’s innovative thinking and deep compassion bring together leaders and community resources to positively impact the overall health of her community,” said Bechara Choucair, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s chief health officer.

Relationships: Evonne Yancey’s specialty

Whether it’s enlisting support from civil rights icon and U.S. Representative John Lewis or serving as co-chair of the host committee for the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Yancey brings together the right people. “She has relationships across the spectrum,” said Beverly Thomas, vice president of Communications and Public Affairs for Kaiser Permanente in Georgia. “She’s a big possibility thinker.”

Elevating the safety net network

Kathryn Lawler, executive director of ARCHI, describes Evonne’s impact on the overall health of Atlanta as huge. In fact, Lawler took the helm of ARCHI because of Yancey. “Only Evonne could make you leave your job of 15 years,” Lawler said. “Evonne tells people, ‘I think you can do more.’ She has seriously elevated the safety net network in this community.”