CNA’s Donna Smith, National Organization of Women’s 2009 Woman of Action


Donna Smith, a community organizer and legislative representative for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), was recently honored as the National Organization for Women’s (NOW’s) 2009 Woman of Action.

Smith first came to the public’s attention in Michael Moore’s 2007 movie, “SICKO.” Despite having health insurance and even a health savings account, Donna and her husband Larry were forced to move into their daughter’s basement after being unable to pay staggering health care costs—and were left in financial ruin.

Donna’s husband, Larry, suffered three heart attacks and Donna was diagnosed and treated for uterine cancer. There is even a scene in the movie “SICKO” where Michael Moore takes Donna to Cuba to get the necessary treatment their insurance wouldn’t pay for.

After the film was released, Smith became a health care activist, taking her story and those of other victims of the badly broken health care system around the country at rallies, teach-ins, seminars and demonstrations. She is a founder of the health care advocacy group American Patients United.

At the group’s recent national conference, NOW President Kim Gandy said Smith “epitomizes how to best confront the injustices in this world.”

Donna is speaking out, organizing, pressuring and advocating for solutions to fix the long-standing crisis produced by our unfair for-profit health care system.

Donna’s story is remarkable—from illness, bankruptcy, financial ruin—to fighting back and becoming an icon to millions as a health insurance reform advocate. We salute Donna for her hard work and tenacity.