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Katie Toles


Carrboro, NC

Katie was MDC’s Autry Fellow for 2019-2020, the 20th person to be selected for the competitive fellowship program that honors MDC’s founding president, George Autry. Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Katie lived in Carrboro, N.C., for more than a decade and attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Pogue Scholar, a full, merit-based scholarship awarded to young people with a commitment to diversity and changing perspectives of those around them. She graduated with honors from UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health with a B.S.P.H. in Health Policy and Management in May 2019.

Katie committed herself to learning how to best advocate for access to healthcare, particularly in her beloved, home state of North Carolina. Throughout college, she volunteered and worked in an array of positions and organizations in order to gain a well-rounded understanding of what it means to be an advocate. Some of these perspectives included the academic research environment as a social science research assistant (N.C. State), the private sector as an intern for a major healthcare provider (Kaiser Permanente), the policy and law environment as an intern for a national health law advocacy group (National Health Law Program), the public sector as an assistor for health insurance marketplace open-enrollment (Certified Application Counselor), and finally on the community level at a local nonprofit advocacy group for community members at or near homelessness (Community Empowerment Fund).

Living in a time of insecurity, Katie’s biggest fear is indifference as a barrier to change and movement building that she sees within herself, her peers, and community. In an effort to combat indifference and successfully lead social change, she has prioritized participation in organizations that work toward justice and equitable social reform.

During her Autry year, Katie worked to broaden her understanding of the social determinants that adversely affect the health of Southerners.