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Civitas Award

The Honorable Lauren Underwood


Representative Underwood is a tireless advocate for health equity in her position in Congress. Since she was sworn into office, she has authored and introduced as the lead sponsor, 76 pieces of legislation focused on critical issues such as Veterans health; gun violence prevention; jobs, economy, and small business; transportation and infrastructure; education and training; as well as environment and energy. In total 11 pieces of legislation, in which the Congresswoman was the lead sponsor, were signed into law. These laws represent Representative Underwood’s deep commitment to protecting our nation’s Veterans, improving health throughout the country by

expanding eligibility for medical premium tax credits; lowering the costs of lifesaving insulin; and establishing uniform data standards for critical health data exchanges.

Representative Underwood is the co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, which addresses America’s Black Maternal Health crisis in Congress and advances policy solutions to improve maternal health outcomes and end disparities. The Congresswoman is the author of the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which aims to respond to this crisis through historic investments that comprehensively address every driver of maternal mortality, morbidity, and disparities in the United States.

In 2023, Representative Underwood was elected to serve in a Houseleadership role as co-chair of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. She is the first Black female to win an elected position the Democratic leadership since Representative Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) in 1977.

Prior to her election to Congress, she served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for, and respond to

disasters, bioterror threats, and public health emergencies. Specifically, she directly supported the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response during domestic and international public health disasters, including the Ebola outbreak, MERS-CoV outbreak, and the Flint Water Crisis.

She has received numerous awards and recognition for the impact she has made at a national and local level including being named one of the TIME Magazine 100 Next of 2019; Roots 100 Most Influential of 2019; and the 2023 winner of the Congressional Management Foundation Democracy Award for Constituent Service. Representative Underwood has taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University School of Nursing’s online masters program and worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University and is a lifelong Girl Scout.

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