2017 Annual Awards Dinner Honorees

The Healthcare Education Project (HEP) is a unique labor-management alliance between 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (1199SEIU) and the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA). HEP’s mission is to protect and expand access to quality, affordable healthcare for all New Yorkers through education, advocacy, and coalition building. From conceiving the landmark Family Health Plus insurance program to protecting Medicaid funding in New York State to breast cancer screening awareness campaigns, HEP has evolved into one of the nation’s most influential healthcare advocacy voices.

Kirk Adams
Executive Director
Healthcare Education Project


Kirk Adams is the Executive Director of the Healthcare Education Project (HEP), a healthcare advocacy organization jointly funded by 1199UHE and The New York League of Voluntary Hospitals. At HEP, Adams has developed a state and nationally based capacity to speak on behalf of providers, healthcare workers and consumers in promoting affordable, high quality healthcare for all.

A long-time labor organizer, Adams began organizing workers in 1980. Joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 1983, Adams spent years helping healthcare workers earn a voice on the job in Beverly nursing homes in Texas, and hospitals in the South, the Northwest and California. In 1987, Adams’ work in Los Angeles led to the first union victory for consumer-directed home care workers in the country and 72,000 home care workers won a voice on the job.

In 1989, Adams left SEIU to help run Ann Richards’ successful gubernatorial campaign and served as her political director until 1994. He returned to organizing for SEIU when Richards left office and was tapped by President Andy Stern to serve as Chief of Staff for SEIU in 2000. In 2007 he became Division Director of SEIU Healthcare, playing a critical role in the passage of healthcare reform. In September 2011, Adams was elected to serve as International Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare. In 2015, Adams was selected by Modern Healthcare as one of the “100 Most Influential People In Healthcare”.  In fall of 2015, Adams resigned from his Executive Vice President position to become Executive Director of the Healthcare Education Project. He continues to work closely with SEIU on national healthcare issues.

A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Adams presently lives in New York City. He is married to Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and is the father of three.