Join the fight: Health equity advocacy trainings

Advocacy is a powerful tool in the fight against kidney disease and the pursuit of health equity. By sharing their stories with policymakers, healthcare providers and the public, advocates can play a key role in helping to shape policies and laws that will improve health outcomes for people with kidney disease and bring attention to health disparities.

In 2023 as part of our work with AKF's Health Equity Coalition, AKF launched a health equity training program for advocates, offered both virtually and in-person to communities across the country touched by kidney disease, including patients, caregivers and health care professionals.

Delivering health equity training to advocates in the kidney disease community is an essential step toward fostering a more equitable health care system. By connecting with advocates, enhancing their understanding of health equity and empowering them with advocacy skills, we can drive change in policies, laws and regulations that will ultimately improve kidney disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Goals for the trainings include: 

  • Facilitating connections among advocates in the community 
  • Training attendees on how to be an effective advocate for the kidney disease community 
  • Helping attendees develop an understanding of health equity and the health disparities impacting kidney patients 
  • Empower attendees to advocate for health equity 

Trainings are available to any of the following people: 

  • People living with kidney disease 
  • Caregivers for people living with kidney disease 
  • People at risk for kidney disease 
  • Organizations that work with people who are at risk for kidney disease 

During health equity trainings, attendees: 

  • Gain knowledge and skills to advocate for policy changes, increased funding for research and prevention programs and improved access to high-quality care for all individuals affected by kidney disease. 
  • Learn about the root causes of health disparities, including social determinants of health (SDOH) such as income, employment and access to health care.  
  • Participate in interactive sessions to gain an understanding of how these factors influence kidney disease prevalence, progression and outcomes. 
  • Explore strategies to address SDOH barriers and promote equitable access to care, treatment and support services. 
  • Learn how to create partnerships with health care professionals, researchers and community organizations so they can play an active role in designing patient-centered interventions, raising awareness and promoting early detection and prevention efforts. 

Upcoming trainings

Columbia, SC

When: Saturday, November 9
Where: Trinity Church | 1501 Hallbrook Dr, Columbia, SC 29209

Additional trainings in 2024 will take place in Pittsburgh, PA and Washington, DC. Dates and locations are forthcoming. 

RSVP to Katy Gross at 

Highlights from health equity trainings 

AKF staff in blue shirt presenting at the front of a classroom with Kidney Health for All presentation on projector screen

Chicago, Illinois

Date: June 8, 2024

The event's speakers included a representative from the office of Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL) and the office of Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). Both spoke about their offices' work to improve care for kidney patients and the importance of community members sharing their experiences to educate members on the impact of kidney disease on their lives. Discussions also covered dietary needs and resources to access healthy foods in the Chicago area and what people need to know before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. U.S. Renal Care also shared the work they are doing to achieve equitable outcomes for all patients.

A group of advocates standing in front of projector screens

"Living Your Best Life with Kidney Disease" in Springfield, Massachusetts

Date: April 27, 2024

Event partner: IPRO

This event was divided into several sessions. The first was a patient panel, including two transplant recipients and a caregiver. The next session was a panel of experts in the nephrology field (including a nephrologist, two nurses and a social worker) who discussed different treatment modalities for kidney patients. The third session focused on AKF's work in advocacy and health equity featuring members of AKF's Government Affairs team. The remaining sessions featured IPRO staff discussing health disparities in transplant and dialysis. We were delighted to have about 30 people in attendance, with some attendees traveling from nearby Connecticut for the event. 

Group of advocates and AKF staff posing in front of windows

Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 23, 2024

For this event, we had a discussion on health disparities and how patients can advocate for themselves. Patients were able to share their kidney health journeys and struggles and share strategies they use to advocate for quality care. Speakers included: Bobby Howard, Director, Multicultural Donation Education Program - LifeLink® of Georgia; Connie Gayle, MHA - Regional Operations Director; Lynne White, Outreach Coordinator for Georgia Transplant Foundation; and Paul B. Lee, Medicare Counselor, State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

South Carolina DHEC

Columbia, South Carolina 

Date: September 30, 2023  

We held this training in the community (zip code 29203) which has the highest rate of diabetic amputations in the U.S.  Given that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, this is of particular concern for the kidney community. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) joined the training and presented data about diabetes and high blood pressure in the community.  

AKF Ambassador Patrick Gee shared his personal story about kidney disease and also discussed his work with the kidney community and the high risk of kidney disease among communities of color. 

Congressman Joaquin Castro

San Antonio, Texas 

Date: August 26, 2023

Gail Dewald, a nephrology nurse with the American Nephrology Nurses Association, led the discussion on health disparities at this event.  

Congressman Joaquin Castro, who has represented San Antonio in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013, told attendees how three generations of his family struggled with getting access to affordable health care, and the difficult decisions that costly health care caused them to make, such as choosing food over medicine. He shared that, even as a U.S. Congressman, he only found out he had cancer because he was provided with a thorough range of health screenings while out of the country. He stated that these experiences drive his support for health equity.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Lindsay Williams joined AKF for this event to discuss a new version of the Living Donor Protection Act in Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Date: July 19, 2023 

Pennsylvania state Sen. Lindsay Williams joined AKF for this event to discuss a new version of the Living Donor Protection Act in Pennsylvania, for which she is the lead sponsor. Unlike the version that passed in 2021, the new bill would provide tax credits and other incentives for living organ donors.  

Delegate Arvind Venkat, an emergency physician in Pittsburgh and son of a nephrologist, spoke about his experience in the medical field and why supporting the kidney community is a natural fit for him.  

“Living Your Best Life with Kidney Disease Patient Expo” in Atlanta, Georgia

"Living Your Best Life with Kidney Disease Patient Expo" in Atlanta, Georgia

Date: June 10, 2023 

Event partner: IPRO  

David Rush, recording artist and kidney advocate, served as the event emcee. Georgia state Sen. John Albers, who recently donated his kidney to his son, was the keynote speaker.  

Through collaborative efforts, we can dismantle systemic barriers, address social determinants of health and ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities to live healthy lives.

AKF's health equity training events are made possible with generous support from AstraZeneca.