Press Release: ReThink Health Model Featured in NASPAA Competition

by ReThink Health Staff

ReThink Health Model Featured in the First Ever National Student Competition among the  Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration

Boston, MA – ReThink Health worked with the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) to develop the first ever student competition hosted among NASPAA member institutions on February 28th. Designed to highlight public sector challenges, the graduate-level competition showcased the ReThink Health Model as a tool to help public administrators explore the complicated range of trade-offs required to meet diverse stakeholder interests. The Model is a sophisticated, empirically-based analytical computer tool that simulates the behavior of a regional health system, and can be customized with data reflecting the unique characteristics of an individual region. It is now being used in an increasing number of regions and by organizations across the country to stimulate the rethinking and sound strategy considerations that are necessary for successful health system transformation. In addition, the Model is used by a rapidly growing number of academic programs to train current and future leaders, which was the highlight of its use in the Competition.

Forty-five teams representing ninety-three NASPAA member schools participated in the day-long challenge, where they were able to apply the skills that are essential to public policy degrees and challenged to implement solutions that embraced systems-level thinking. The student competition was held at five regional host sites across the United States: Indianapolis, IN; College Park, MD; Albany, NY; Athens, GA; and Los Angeles, CA.

Multi-institution student teams were tasked to use the Model to develop and present policy solutions based on the competition scenario, which asked them to create a locally-led “bottom up” reform to the Affordable Care Act. Regional finalists were chosen based on their achievement to balance the best possible impact for their community and the ability to modify their strategies to accommodate the priorities of various stakeholders. This challenge reflects the real world strategy imperative to develop feasible solutions that require a range of actors for implementation.

“We were excited to partner with NASPAA in the creation of this innovative competition. At ReThink Health, we’re committed to supporting the next generation of leaders and helping them to gain a broader understanding of what it takes to build and sustain healthy communities.” –Laura Landy, Founder and Chair of ReThink Health

Finalists were selected from each of the five regions, and the winning team was selected based on their mastery of the Model and exemplary understanding of health care challenges and current policy concerns. This team made sophisticated tradeoffs that would allow their policies to be organizationally and politically feasible. Winners will be able to identify a prize meaningful to them based on their interests and location, such as the opportunity to shadow a government official, nonprofit president, or executive director. The winning team included graduate students at the following institutions:

  • Nomzana Augustin, Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University
  • Zachary Blackburn, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia
  • Christophe Combemale, Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Mark Rucci, School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware

Following the competition, NASPAA and ReThink Health will work to document the benefits of simulation-based learning environments, as students and faculty observed through the Model use in the Competition. This experience allowed students to demonstrate their leadership skills, critical thinking acumen, and collaborative decision-making ability, all while working to address the complex policy issues that they will be encountering in the field of practice. Understanding how to weigh the complex trade-offs that occur when pursuing systemic change is a fundamental challenge for public administrators, and one that becomes increasingly complex when negotiating agreements among diverse stakeholders. As with regional stakeholders across the county, the ReThink Health Model enabled the Competition participants to better approach consensus and develop robust solutions.

About ReThink Health

ReThink Health, a collaborative initiative of the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation, helps leaders and communities overcome often predictable barriers and better understand how they can accelerate processes of change towards a healthier health system. We partner with regional leaders and peer organizations to build more effective regional collaboration and stewardship, create alignment around sound and focused strategy, move ideas to action, as well as build the capacity for sustained investment. Our goal is to overcome the pitfalls and excuses that stifle creative action and to demonstrate the potential of system wide redesign.


NASPAA, the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration, is the global standard in public service education with a twofold mission to ensure excellence in education and training for public service and to promote the ideal of public service. It is the membership organization of graduate education programs in public policy, public affairs, public administration, and public and nonprofit management. NASPAA is also the recognized accreditor of master’s degree programs in these fields. Its nearly 300 members are located across the U.S. and in 14 countries around the globe.

You can view NASPAA’s press release about the event here.