History of WHAMglobal
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) designed WHAMglobal to be a non-traditional advocacy, planning, and education organization. Transformational change requires an international network of women that can champion, fund, investigate, activate, and advocate for ideal childbirth, and WHAMglobal is focused on learning global best practices in maternity care and identifying partners from the Pittsburgh region, across the country, and around the world. In the fall of 2016, Dr. Karen Wolk Feinstein, President and CEO of JHF, presented a TEDx talk in front of a national and international audience to launch WHAMglobal.
Inspired by her own health activist journey that started in Boston in the 1970s around the “Our Bodies, Ourselves” movement, and building off of Women’s Marches and the #METOO movement, Dr. Feinstein created WHAMglobal in partnership with the national organization Women of Impact to urge women everywhere to step up and fight for progress.
In June 2017, WHAMglobal issued a Big Idea Challenge to local nonprofits, asking them to pitch their plans to improve women’s health in Western Pennsylvania for the chance to win a $10,000 award. Twenty nonprofits responded, and eight finalists pitched their plans during a celebration of big ideas around women’s health activism at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh. The winner of the Big Idea Challenge was the Latino Community Center, which developed a plan to improve the maternal health of Pittsburgh’s growing Latin American community. Their project inspired an intense focus for WHAMglobal on the maternal health crisis. WHAMglobal then partnered with the Latino Community Center to promote and learn from their initiative and identify ways to support liaisons through the implementation of a community health worker model.
Since launching, WHAMglobal hosted a series of symposia, including a 2018 Maternal Health Leaders Symposium with Magee-Womens Research Institute that featured experts from around the world. WHAMglobal has embarked on three international study tours in Australia, Spain, and Canada, distributed grants, and led advocacy and training sessions to engage frontline workers, health system administrators, elected officials, and passionate advocates. WHAMglobal’s Global Board of 22 accomplished women leaders includes clinicians, midwives, researchers, foundation execs, and public health advocates.