“We congratulate Claudia Lennhoff on all that she has done for her community. Her story is inspirational and demonstrates to all of our students and graduates that one person can make a positive difference in the lives of many others.”
— President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Honors UMBC Alumna
October 14, 2002 — The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has selected Claudia Lennhoff, Psychology '91, as one of 10 recipients of this year’s Community Health Leadership Awards. “While millions struggle without critical health care or social services,” says the foundation’s president, Steven Schroeder, “these leaders are negotiating, building, collaborating, and advocating on their behalf in the most awe-inspiring ways.”
Lennhoff is executive director of the Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC), a non-profit community organization in Illinois. She learned first-hand the struggles faced by those without health care insurance when she found herself in the same situation – and facing a diagnosis of cancer – several years ago. “Being denied medical care leaves a real sense that one’s life is not considered important,” she says.
Channeling her experience as an uninsured cancer patient, Lennhoff transformed a grassroots public health group into a more powerful and effective voice for Champaign County’s most needy residents. Her work involved mobilizing the community against the elimination of a popular Medicare assistance program that waived out-of-pocket medical expenses for low-income seniors and disabled citizens. She also helped spearhead efforts to create the county’s first comprehensive public health service. One nominator called Lennhoff “the moral compass of our community’s health care system.”
The Community Health Leadership Award will bring more than $100,000 additional funding to CCHCC, which will help establish an endowment for the organization, and a stipend for Lennhoff, along with opportunities to bring her advocacy to a larger forum of national leaders.