Wendy McWeeny

Co-Director

Wendy Berry McWeeny has spent over two decades working at the intersection of philanthropy and public health, bridging the global and local, and championing the shift from individual and charity based versions of philanthropy to systems-based approaches in service of the public good. She is Co-Director of the Community Health Acceleration Partnership (CHAP).

Wendy started her career in journalism, working as a production and research assistant on a PBS series with Walter Cronkite. When the series ended, she found herself interviewing for a series on the history of the automobile and realized it was not so much the camera work, editing, or grooming of Cronkite’s eyebrows that had engaged her as it was the subject matter of her first series—adolescent reproductive health, health care reform, and welfare reform.

With this awareness, Wendy began to chart a new course for herself. Subsequent jobs threw her deep into policy—at think tanks and public policy graduate school, where she developed both an understanding of and deep respect for public institutions. Wendy was part of the first cohort of Princeton Project 55, the program that places students in nonprofit positions. Eventually, her path led to foundation work, where passions for policy and programming came together at a micro-scale.

For 19 years Wendy held a senior philanthropic and advisory role at the MCJ Amelior Foundation, the family foundation of Ray Chambers, U.N. and WHO Special Envoy and founder of Wesray Capital. Her first few years were spent on their Newark portfolio—managing a mix of economic development, education, and health initiatives. In 2003, the foundation took a pivot towards global health and development. For Wendy, this shift included stops at two non-profits the foundation launched: Millennium Promise, started with economist and UN advisor Jeffrey Sachs to support the UN efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and Malaria No More, an organization with the initial mission of providing universal access to insecticide treated bed nets and ending the 1 million deaths attributable to this preventable disease. Wendy’s efforts were instrumental in increasing financing for malaria interventions, which ultimately led to a 50% decrease in malaria deaths.

In an effort to resist traditional philanthropic models of top-down aid, Wendy worked to identify experts in the communities where support was being directed. In sub-Saharan Africa, observing and engaging Community Health Workers proved transformative. Initially trained in areas where traditional expertise (doctors, surgeons, nurses) was lacking, Community Health Workers demonstrated that trusted, local workers with shared lived experience could help patients access and maintain care in ways other health providers could not. “The more I saw Community Health Workers in action, the more I realized that, as much as our ‘global north’ funding was helping, it was our turn to learn from the local solutions of the global south.”

In 2016, Wendy pivoted to building Community Health Worker efforts first in New Jersey, and then nationally, while also looking at how to specifically address the country’s troubling racial disparities within maternal health outcomes. In 2018 she joined the CHAP team, and when the organization shifted its focus from strengthening community health efforts globally to US-based priorities in 2022, Wendy was named Co-Director.

Today, together with her colleagues and community partners, Wendy is leading efforts to put care back into healthcare by ensuring community leaders and organizations have the support they need to both deliver services now and plan for how their work will be integrated into a larger, sustained system.

“Our overarching premise is that health is a social good nurtured by communities closest to the issues themselves, and philanthropy has an important role in strengthening that community system of care,” says Wendy. “We believe in public institutions, and our work sits at the intersection of government and community—helping to accelerate to community-based solutions moving towards sustainability while not overburdening community leaders who are busy doing the work.”

Our Team

Jhenielle Reynolds
Program Manager
Jeffrey C. Walker
Co-Chair
Wendy McWeeny
Co-Director
English Sall
Co-Chair
Austin Hearst
Co-Chair
Raquel Mazon Jeffers
Co-Director