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We Came, We Saw, We Were Inspired: SDF at SXSW 2019

SXSW 2019 was lively, provocative and inspiring. Over the last few years, we’ve learned that when thousands of engaged, forward thinkers in areas of technology, health, social impact intersect at SXSW, we can learn new ways of addressing issues and build relationships that help us further our work.  We’ve been able to highlight timely issues by inviting experts from across the country to join us on panels to explore solutions.  This year, we partnered with SXSW to sponsor the first-ever Energizing Health House, which provided a space for people interested in health innovation and equity to gather, connect, and learn over four days of SXSW Interactive. Here are some of the highlights of SDF@SXSW:

The Energizing Health House

St. David’s Foundation was a sponsor of the Energizing Health House, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Aetna Foundation and Cambia Health Foundation, which served as a “home base” for us during all of our SXSW activities. The Health House was always packed with engaged guests, and served as a great place to convene the health community during SXSW.

Members of our staff at the Energizing Health House on the first day of SXSW Interactive.


Our EVP of Community Investments, William Buster, hosted a kickoff event on the first day of SXSW Interactive welcoming guests to the house, and we participated in programming throughout the weekend including a meetup focused on racial inequities which William also moderated. (More on that, later!)

William Buster welcomes guests to the Energizing Health House at their community opening event.

Panel: Maternal Mortality in America: What’s Going On?

St. David’s Foundation Senior Program Officer Elizabeth Krause moderated a panel on Friday featuring Dr. Joia Crear-Perry of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, NPR’s Renee Montagne, host of the “Lost Mothers” series, and Paula Rojas of Mama Sana Vibrant Woman. The panel focused on the maternal mortality issue in America, and how we can improve the birth experience in our country for all women, especially women of color.

One of St. David’s Foundation’s strategic priorities is focused on Women’s Health and providing care to new mothers during the Fourth Trimester, the year following birth, so this panel really resonated with us and highlighted the importance of the work we’re doing in our community.

“The less power we have socially, the less autonomy we have while in the medical system, while pregnant. When you’re in labor, how can you advocate for yourself? It stays a very private problem until we amplify it.” – Paula Rojas

Click here to listen to a recording of the panel.

Maternal Mortality Resources Link

Health Warrior Supper Club Dinner, Co-Hosted by Dell Medical School

St. David’s Foundation’s Earl Maxwell and William Buster co-hosted a dinner Friday night with Clay Johnston and Jewel Mullen of Dell Medical School, David Feinberg of Google Health, Stacey Chang of Design Institute for Health, and Tom Lee of Press Ganey. This intimate gathering brought together “health warriors” from Central Texas and across the US for a “real talk” discussion about innovation in healthcare.

Panel: Addressing Racial and Ethnic Inequities to Build Healthier Communities

St. David’s Foundation’s EVP of Community Investments William Buster led a Saturday panel discussion at the Energizing Health House focused on racial and ethnic inequities featuring Dr. Joia Crear-Perry of the National Birth Equity Collaborative and Dwayne Proctor of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

It was a packed house for the panel, and the audience was incredibly engaged with the discussion, much of which centered on how to work toward building healthcare systems that promote equity for all.

“Your ZIP code matters more than your genetic code, when it comes to determining life expectancy.”  – Dwayne Proctor

“There are over 500,000 minutes in a year. You’ll spend 60 minutes in the doctor’s office. What do you do with the other minutes? The doctor’s office is not where our health is.” – William Buster

Panel: Delivering Care Anywhere: Beyond the Office Visit

Our EVP William Buster was back at it on the Sunday of SXSW Interactive, on a panel for the main health track on “Delivering Care Anywhere.” The panel also featured Jay Bhatt of the American Hospital Association and David Weberg of Kaiser Permanente, and was moderated by Bonnie Clipper of the American Nurses Association.

William talked about the barriers our neighbors face when it comes to receiving care, and how we can work to eliminate those barriers through the use of technology and innovation. He drew on St. David’s Foundation’s work in rural communities, stressing the importance of tapping into the networks that already exist in those communities to help bridge the gaps between people and the care they need.

“There is innovation happening everywhere. Many things are happening that people are doing to help move healthcare out of the traditional four walls. But, trying to do things at scale in the country is the challenge.” – William Buster

“We must meet these people where they are – barber shops, shelters, etc. It’s another way of thinking about how to reach people to rethink how we deliver care. It will take bold moves from health systems to build health systems in our cities that deliver care.” – Jay Bhatt

Click here to listen to a recording of the panel.

Panel: Killing Ourselves Faster: The Mental Health Abyss

It was our Senior Program Officer Kim McPherson’s second year on a SXSW Panel, and she provided insightful commentary on the mental health crisis in America, alongside Patrice Harris from the American Medical Association and Christine Moutier from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Kim touched on St. David’s Foundation’s work in combating childhood adversity and building community resilience, and how important early childhood interventions are in preventing bad mental health outcomes, like suicide and depression.

“We know early adversity isn’t a diagnosis – it’s a warning sign. It’s like if you have high cholesterol, it helps your care team make more informed decisions about caring for you.” – Kim McPherson

“It is only through speaking out, amplifying the message, talking about the science — having these conversations, sharing our stories and making sure we promote the evidence behind it — it is only then, that we will reduce the stigma and get to where everyone has access to treatment for these issues.” – Patrice Harris

Click here to listen to a recording of the panel.


Overall, our team had an incredible SXSW. We convened with great groups, learned a ton, and got to spend a lot of quality time bonding with each other. We’re so proud of all our staff that participated in panels, and we’re already gearing up for SXSW 2020!