Government Sustaining Community Innovation


  • Jennifer Blatz President & CEO, StriveTogether
  • Rebecca Chavez-Houck Managing Member, Aspira Public Affairs
  • Bill Crim President & CEO, United Way of Salt Lake
  • Danya Pastuszek Co-CEO, Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement


community innovation, place-based approaches, community, community building, government, public policy, social innovation, partnership


Supported by national movements like StriveTogether and the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement, dozens of communities across the US and Canada are transforming systems to support economic mobility – not just for some but at a community-wide scale. Here we explore roles that governments have played in scaling and sustaining the community innovations that are the roots of these transformational changes. Now more than ever, the government (and all sectors) must persist in leveraging power toward never-before-seen justice – but we are encouraged by how we’ve seen government-scale local innovation so far.

Author Biographies

Jennifer Blatz, President & CEO, StriveTogether

Jennifer Blatz is the president and CEO of StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working in 70 communities across the United States to enable more than 14 million young people to succeed in school and life. Jennifer is a nationally recognized leader and expert in building place-based partnerships. For two decades, she has designed, developed and implemented strategies that drive large-scale community improvement through partnership with local leaders and organizations. Prior to taking the helm of StriveTogether, Jennifer served in leadership roles, including deputy director and senior director of operations. She was instrumental in launching the national Cradle to Career Network and creating the StriveTogether Theory of Action™. She also developed a bold plan for 23 communities across the country to reach systems-level transformation by 2023. Before leading StriveTogether, Jennifer was a founding member of StrivePartnership, serving Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Jennifer serves as a PolicyLink Ambassador for Health Equity, a LEAP Ambassador, a board member at Raising A Reader and a member of the Cincinnati Business Courier Leadership Trust. She was also invited to help launch the Weave Movement at the Aspen Institute. Jennifer has been named a YWCA of Greater Cincinnati Rising Star and a Cincinnati Business Courier Forty Under 40. She is a graduate of United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Volunteer Leadership Development Program, the Billions Institute Skid Row School for Large-Scale Change and the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Women Excel Leadership Program. 

Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Managing Member, Aspira Public Affairs

Born & raised in Utah, Rebecca Chavez-Houck holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and a Master of Public Administration (MPA), both from the University of Utah. She represented Salt Lake City’s District 24 (Downtown, Capitol Hill, Guadalupe & the Avenues neighborhoods) in the Utah House of Representatives from 2008-18, focusing primarily on public policy related to health and human services as well as voter engagement and access. Her leadership appointments included: House Minority Whip (2014-16) and House Minority Assistant Whip (2012-14). She now provides leadership coaching and community engagement consulting through her public affairs firm, Aspira Public Affairs, LLC. During her time on Utah’s Capitol Hill, Rebecca served on the Governor’s Multicultural Commission, as co-chair of the bipartisan legislative Clean Air Caucus, and as co-chair on Utah’s Women in the Economy Commission. Other appointments that influenced her policy agenda include service on former Governor Jon Huntsman's Commission to Strengthen Utah's Democracy, Governor Gary Herbert's Medicaid Working Group and the legislative Health Reform Task Force. Her legislative committee assignments included the social services appropriations subcommittee, as well as, health & human services, government operations, and economic development & workforce services standing and interim committees. She is a 2012 Council of State Governments (CSG) Toll Fellows Graduate. Rebecca also served as a public affairs staffer for a number of local Utah nonprofits from 1985 to 2007 and cultivated a parallel “career” as a volunteer for nonprofits ranging from Envision Utah to the ACLU to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. She continues to serve on myriad boards and initiatives and has been honored extensively for her efforts. Rebecca teaches non-profit administration classes as adjunct faculty for the U of U’s MPA program. 

Bill Crim, President & CEO, United Way of Salt Lake

Bill Crim is the President and CEO for United Way of Salt Lake. He has worked for over two and a half decades years on issues related to economic opportunity, health care, education and poverty – first as a research fellow for the Coalition on Human Needs in Washington, D.C. and then as a researcher, policy analyst, community organizer, lobbyist, and executive director for Utah Issues. Bill has been with United Way of Salt Lake since 2004 and, prior to becoming CEO, lead United Way of Salt Lake’s community transformation initiatives – developing and supporting collective impact cradle-to-career collaborations in six communities along with statewide public policy advocacy efforts. In 2013, Bill helped facilitate the first “pay for success” transaction for early childhood education, helping make high-quality preschool available to 600 additional low-income children in several communities in Utah. Bill serves on the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission and is a frequent speaker on the topics of collective impact, pay-for-success financing, and public policy advocacy. Bill graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Utah with a BA in Political Science. 

Danya Pastuszek, Co-CEO, Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement

Danya Pastuszek (she/her) is Co-CEO at The Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement, which supports more than 400 communities across Canada to end poverty in ways that honor people, place and planet. She has lived and worked in both the US and Canada. Her early career was spent in New York City, working with resettling refugees and then with people impacted by the US’s systems of criminal justice. In 2012, she moved to Salt Lake City and began a decade-long career at United Way of Salt Lake, supporting cross-sector partnerships designed to support economic mobility. Once she moved to Canada in 2015 with her young family, she did much of this work remotely. In February 2022, she was appointed as Co-CEO at the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement. In this role, she supports communities across Canada in their work to end poverty, activate just climate transitions, and foster communities where everyone experiences belonging. A lifelong learner, she has studied English, Psychology, Business, and Group Facilitation. She is a Utah Business Magazine CxO of the Year (2021), a participant in the inaugural cohort of Women in Power (2022), and part of the network that received the Schwab Foundation’s inaugural Collective Social Innovation Award (2023). She’d love to connect with you at





How to Cite

Blatz, J., Chavez-Houck, R., Crim, B., & Pastuszek, D. (2023). Government Sustaining Community Innovation . Social Innovations Journal, 17. Retrieved from



Tools to Advance Your Social and Community Innovation Practice