In 1996, during her sophomore year at Harvard College, Rebecca Onie founded Health Leads (formerly Project HEALTH) with Dr. Barry Zuckerman, Chair of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center. As Executive Director of Health Leads, Rebecca oversaw the organization's growth to Providence and New York City.
After attending Harvard Law School, where she served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review and research assistant for Professors Laurence Tribe and Lani Guinier, Rebecca clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She was also an associate at Miner, Barnhill & Galland P.C., a boutique law firm in Chicago, where she represented civil rights plaintiffs, health centers, affordable housing developers, and nonprofits.
During this time, Rebecca served as founding Co-Chair of Health Leads' Board of Directors. She returned to Health Leads as CEO in February 2006.
In 2009, she was honored to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, for “individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Most recently, O! Magazine named her to its 2010 Power List of twenty women who are “changing the world for the better.”
In 2012, Rebecca spoke at TEDMED on the devastating impact of poverty on health. Entitled, "Can We Rewrite the DNA of the Healthcare System," her talk focused on Health Leads' role in helping doctors connect their low-income patients with better access to health services, interventions, food and transportation.
Rebecca is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a U.S. Ashoka Fellow. She received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award in 2009, honoring Americans under the age of 40 whose commitment to service is changing their communities and the country; the Jane Rainie Opel ’50 Young Alumna Award in 2008, for outstanding contributions to the advancement of women; and the Do Something Brick Award for Community Leadership in 1999, for dynamic young people under the age of thirty with the passion and drive to improve their communities.
- 2013 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award
- 2012 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award
- 2012 Boston Business Journal's 40 under 40
- 2012 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Young Leader Award
- 2011 Forbes Magazine's list of top social entrepreneurs in the world.
- 2011 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship
- 2009 MacArthur Fellows Program
- John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award
- 2008 U.S. Ashoka Fellow
- "National « Health Leads". Healthleadsusa.org. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- Gilbert Cruz (November 2, 2009). "Power of One". Time.
- "Rebecca D. Onie named a 2013 Social Entrepreneur of the Year". healthleadsusa.org.
- "Rebecca Onie Wins 2012 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award". Center for Public Leadership. Retrieved 2013-01-03.
- "40 under 40 Rebecca Onie". Boston Business Journal.
- "Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Announces Young Leader Awards Winners". Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
- "Rebecca Onie". Forbes.
- "Skoll Foundation Announces 2011 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship: Four Winners Focus on Health, Water, and Education « Skoll Foundation". Skollfoundation.org. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- "Rebecca Onie 2009 - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum". Jfklibrary.org. 2009-11-23. Retrieved 2011-08-06.
- "Kennedy honors two | Harvard Gazette". News.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2011-08-06.