Written by Anthony Moujaes
Barbara Baylor, minister of health care justice for the United Church of Christ, has been chosen from a field of 100 candidates for a one-year fellowship with Brookings Institution. She will work on Capitol Hill in helping shape legislative policy.
"It's just another opportunity to help make a difference [in health care] in some small way," Baylor said. "The United Church of Christ is one of the leading denominations that has a set policy for [health care advocacy]."
In previous years, Baylor would look at the extensive application for a fellowship with the Brookings Institution, but her work kept her too busy to complete it. This year with her completed application, she was selected to serve as the 2013 American Public Health Association Fellow.
The APHA is the primary voice for public health advocacy, and seeks to protect Americans from preventable health threats, while making preventive health services universally accessible in the United States. APHA works with decision-makers to shape public policy to address public health concerns, such as ensuring access to care, protecting funding for core public health programs and services and eliminating health disparities. Each year, the APHA allows one individual to serve as a fellow with the Brookings through the Legis Congressional Fellowship.
Beginning Jan. 1, Baylor will be based in Washington, D.C., drafting legislation, briefing members of Congress on key issues, and participating in hearings as part of her fellowship.
Baylor has been with the UCC for 15 years, and as the minister for health care justice with Justice and Witness Ministries she works with health and health care justice issues throughout the country. In all, Baylor has 25 years of experience in public health.
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, executive minster for Justice and Witness Ministries, says it was no surprise Baylor was the choice as the APHA Fellow to the Brookings Institute.
"This is truly an honor for Barbara and a real testament to her faithful and persistent advocacy for health care justice issues for most of her professional life, specifically with the UCC's national offices for the last 15 years," Jaramillo "It is also is a great occasion for the UCC to be recognized through Barbara's leadership."
In Washington, Baylor will work with a legislative committee and with the congressional member who chairs that committee. In Baylor's case, the ideal committee is the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which is chaired by Sen. Thomas Harkin (D-Iowa). She won't know which committee she'll work with until mid-January.
"I've had some limited experiences in helping to shape national policy," Baylor said. "I am very interested in obtaining more understanding about the process used to develop and implement national policies."
Baylor also is excited to "bridge communities" of people with various backgrounds during the fellowship, and says her experiences at various levels of the UCC can help her during her time in D.C.
"It is an opportunity for Barbara to learn more about how public policy is developed and implemented on a federal level and how strategies are employed to improve public health decision making," said Jaramillo.
Baylor came from the Southern Conference in the UCC, and has two children and eight grandchildren. She will return to the UCC's national office at the conclusion of the year-long fellowship to continue in her role as minister for health care justice.
"I really enjoy working for the UCC. It's a chance to serve groups, and churches and individuals," said Baylor. "The great thing is that it puts a profession and faith together. I look forward to coming back to serve and doing great things."