Zach Zaslow, senior director of Government Affairs for Children’s Hospital Colorado, has been recognized among the Denver Business Journal’s 40 under 40. Each year, the publication honors 40 young professionals in multiple industries for providing extraordinary business and community leadership.
Advocacy leader champions children’s health at all levels of government
“With the goal of keeping children out of the hospital by shaping public policy, Zach has spent a decade growing our advocacy team into a powerful force for children that champions evidence-based public policy at all levels of government,” says Heidi Baskfield, vice president of Population Health and Advocacy at Children’s Colorado. “His accomplishments on behalf of children and families have undeniably made our state a better place to be a kid.”
Through lobbying, grassroots organizing, and both traditional and social media, Zaslow and his team have made progress on issues including child mental health, immunizations, injury prevention, marijuana safety, and healthy eating.
Key legislative accomplishments on nicotine, mental health and more
Zaslow has led the Government Affairs team to multiple policy successes over the past few years. His years-long effort to protect kids from the damages of nicotine culminated in the 2020 statewide ballot measure Proposition EE (“Taxes on Nicotine Products”), which voters approved to help lower the rate of teens smoking and vaping while also providing funding for nicotine cessation efforts, universal preschool, affordable housing and more.
Even before the pandemic took our youth mental health crisis to unprecedented levels, Zaslow was working hard to expand behavioral health support for kids, says Baskfield. In 2019, he helped influence the passage of Senate Bill 19-195 (“Child and Youth Behavioral Health System Enhancements”) at the State Capitol. The legislation builds a comprehensive system of care for children and youth that includes providing high-quality, standardized screening and assessment tools to identify kids’ behavioral health needs earlier in life.
Last year, Zaslow’s team tracked 128 state bills; coordinated testimony from 31 hospital experts on pending legislation at committee hearings; trained more than 200 new advocates at advocacy events and resident learning sessions; and empowered constituents and team members to send hundreds of emails to state and federal lawmakers on pending kids’ health legislation.
Building bridges between business leaders and legislators
Zaslow is adept at building relationships between the business community and legislators, Baskfield says, helping each to understand the importance of healthcare legislation and coordinating advocacy efforts among healthcare organizations.
He also represents the interests of Children’s Colorado as a business and employer. That means actively tracking and engaging in legislative and funding issues that could impact the hospital system’s workforce and their ability to provide lifesaving care.
Zaslow is also involved in local associations and coalitions that advocate for businesses across the state. He plays an active role with the Colorado Hospital Association, ensuring the needs of pediatrics are considered in discussions, and working with other healthcare provider associations and local leaders to bring a unified healthcare voice to shared legislative priorities.
Empowering youth civic engagement
More than a decade ago, Zaslow co-founded the leading youth civic engagement organization New Era Colorado with U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, State Rep. Leslie Herod, State Sen. Majority Leader Stephen Fenberg, and Governor Jared Polis’s Chief of Staff, Lisa Kaufman. Zaslow served on the organization’s board for 10 years. New Era Colorado registers young people to vote, mobilizes them to advocate for their interests at the state and national levels, and trains them to become civic leaders.