Advocacy Masterclass

Applications for 2023 are Open

About the Patients Rising’s Advocacy Masterclass

At Patients Rising we believe that patients and caregivers hold the power to move the needle in healthcare and create a better tomorrow for all patients and caregivers by raising their voice! That is why we offer our Advocacy Masterclass, designed to train patients, caregivers, and citizens in the art of healthcare advocacy.

What is the course all about?

This 15-week, immersive experience will teach you all about advocacy on and off ‘the hill’ and provide you with the tools and tactics you need to be an effective healthcare advocate.

Designed as a mini-college course, students will receive a curriculum with weekly reading, watching, and listening to be completed each week at your own pace. Course participants will come together for live virtual sessions to engage with fellow classmates and hear from leading advocates.

Who can participate?

Patients and caregivers from across therapeutic areas. U.S. based patients, caregivers, and citizens passionate about advocating for better healthcare are the target audience, though learning is designed to be accessible to anyone.

All students will have the opportunity to interact and engage with peers and advisors on our custom platform. Did you know some of the original breast cancer advocates learned from the HIV/AIDS community how to advocate effectively? The Masterclass platform is built to give students the opportunity to interact and engage with peers and advisors, and to learn from one another.

Why should I apply?

Upon the completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Communicate your patient/caregiver story in a compelling manner to different audiences
  • Tie your personal experiences to healthcare policies you want fixed
  • Understand key healthcare legislation and how it impacts patients, and what you can do to help ensure it gets passed
  • Effectively advocate “on the hill” by leveraging meetings with your representatives and using the power of social media to affect change
  • Effectively advocate “off the hill” – From testifying for the FDA approval of a new therapy or speaking at an ICER or DUR meeting to push for equitable access to a therapy
  • You’ll even create and be able to share your own personal webpage on our Patients Rising Stories platform, where you can tell your whole story with text, images, and links to your support organizations and social media.

This course is a truly comprehensive way to learn how you can raise your voice and create a better tomorrow for all patients and caregivers.

Course Testimonials

I honestly had no idea what to expect from this class. I was truly blown away. I learned so much and I was often sharing tidbits with my husband. The group leaders and those that shared on videos were top-notch and questions were answered quickly. I’m sad to see it end but excited to use what I’ve learned about advocacy.
Migraine Advocate
This course is an easy to follow, deep dive into all things patient advocacy. The top notch instructors share decades of experience and are ready to help you develop a compelling patient story of your own that will take your advocacy to new levels. For new advocates or as a refresher, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS CLASS!
Pain Advocate
As a result of taking this course, I feel much more knowledgeable about the U.S. healthcare/insurance system and equipped to advocate effectively on behalf of the rare disease community. The videos highlighting successful advocates’ experiences were so inspiring, and I appreciated the concrete action steps I gained along the way. I very strongly recommend this course to other rare disease advocates who want to strengthen their voice!
Rare Advocate


What is the time commitment?

Students should expect to dedicate about two hours per week over the course of the fifteen week program.

Who can apply?

U.S. based patients, caregivers, and citizens passionate about advocating for better healthcare.

What day and time of the week will the live course take place?

We will poll the group to get a sense of the best day/time. If a cohort member is unable to attend the live session, a recording will be available for viewing after.

How much does the course cost?

The course is FREE to those accepted to participate.


Week 1:“Meet & Greet” Kick-off celebration and program overview

Week 2:Advocacy 101 with Chelsey Hickman

Week 3 Healthcare Policy: Step therapy with Charla Penn & Howard Chang

Week 4: Healthcare Policy: PBMs and Co-pay accumulators with Charla Penn & Jen Hepworth

Week 5: Healthcare Policy: Value Frameworks with Charla Penn & Charis Hill

Week 6 Healthcare Policy: Transparency in healthcare with Charla Penn & Leilani Graham

Week 7 Raise Your Voice – Winning Strategies Washington

Week 8: ICER Meetings with Anna Legassie

Week 9: Advocacy on the Hill with Brooke Abbott

Week 10: FDA Advisory Panels with Jenn McNary

Week 11: Drug Utilization Review Boards with Jenn McNary

Week 12: Advocacy on Social media with Stephanie Fischer

Week 13: Effective storytelling with Tamika Felder

Week 14: Study week – group discussions and counseling with Jim Sliney

Week 15: Final video submission & graduation celebration!


Charla Penn

Charla Penn is one of WSW’s health care policy specialists. She works extensively with hospitals, provider associations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, insurers, and non-profits to navigate the transforming health care landscape on issues of reimbursement and access to care.

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Jenn McNary

Jenn McNary is a trusted voice in the rare disease community, as a mother, public speaker and fierce advocate.

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Anna Legassie

Anna Legassie is the head of strategy and development for a health economics and policy research center driving a research agenda that elevates patient engagement in value assessment in healthcare – ensuring that the barriers to treatments that she’s experienced are addressed on a system level.

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Charis Hill

Charis Hill (they/them) is a disability activist, writer, speaker and model living with Axial Spondyloarthritis (axSpA), Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Chelsey Hickman

Chelsey is a skilled government relations professional with more than 20 years of combined experience in the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the private sector.

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Tamika Felder

Tamika Felder is a patient advocate, educator, mobilizer, author, and the Chief Visionary at Cervivor, a nonprofit dedicated to cervical cancer advocacy and support. 

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Stephanie Fischer

As a rare disease patient and stroke survivor, Stephanie Fischer is passionate about explaining public policy so that patients and their families can understand why it matters and feel empowered to engage legislators and regulators.

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Brooke Abbott

Brooke is the creator of The Crazy Creole Mommy Chronicles, a brand she created to share her life as a single mother of color living with a chronic condition.

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You’ll receive updates about new resources, patient stories and insights, advocacy work, and alerts about patient-support events.