The 2018 NHPHA Annual Meeting in Review: Skills, Scholars, Friendship and Appreciation 

Post written by Joan Ascheim, NHPHA Interim Executive Director

Joan Ascheim webBODI always find our annual meeting to be celebratory, motivating, inspiring and a validation of the tremendous work we do collectively as public health professionals.  This year’s 2018 NHPHA Annual Meeting hit the mark on all counts!  There were 135 of us in attendance with 30 of those being students from various academic institutions.  Students had the opportunity to attend the pre-session presented by our Rising Stars Program and led by Cait Glennen entitled: Demystifying the Interview and Salary Negotiation Process.  The program was highly rated and noted to provide practical skills students could put to use as they search for their perfect public health jobs. 

The student poster session followed with 21 scholarly and diverse poster presentations spanning topics such as: structural racism in healthcare, increasing hand hygiene, suicide ideation among high school students, community health assessments and home visiting (see article below to learn about poster winners).  The poster sessions are a tremendous opportunity for students to share their work with public health professionals and provides a networking experience between the two groups.

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the night is noshing on the delectable appetizers and connecting with my public health friends and colleagues.  New Hampshire, being such a small state, affords us the chance to develop long-lasting and meaningful relationships with our colleagues. I do believe these relationships are key to satisfying careers and strong partnerships that enhance our collaborations to improve the public’s health. 

For those who were unable to attend, I kicked off the meeting noting that National Public Health Week this year coincided with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  It was striking to me when I reviewed the six focal areas of his civil rights platform which included: poverty, better jobs/higher wages, quality education, decent housing, justice and peace.  Clearly the social determinants of health that are so much a part of our daily public health lexicon are inextricably linked with basic civil rights.  

Bobbie Bagley shared activities of the Public Health Nursing Section and Jeanie Holt apprised us of our connected work with the American Public Health Association. Rachel Maxwell updated the group on the advocacy and policy work of the Public Policy Committee.  

The Roger Fossum Award was bestowed upon Linda Saunders-Paquette, probably best known to most for her tireless work leading New Futures to make significant impact on alcohol and drug policy in the state.  What people probably don’t know about Linda is that she started her career at St. Agatha Home for Children in Nanuet, NY.  Caring for these children, who were homeless and came from extreme poverty, transformed her thinking and set her on the path in pursuit of justice and equity.  Linda spoke of the need to interweave passion, skills and knowledge and to work relentlessly to make necessary policy changes to positively impact society.  Linda’s distinguished career is illustrative of this recipe for success.
The Friend of Public Health Award was presented to Senator Dan Feltes and Tom Irwin of the Conservation Law Foundation for their steadfast work leading to the passage of the lead poisoning prevention bill into law – legislation essential to the public’s health.
The New Hampshire Community Health Service Award was given to WMUR-TV for its contribution to improving the health of New Hampshire residents through excellent coverage of the opioid crisis.  WMUR’s special coverage brought attention to this public health epidemic and the devastation it has wrought on individuals, families and communities; addressed the stigma of this disease; and prompted political action to address the issue at the state and national levels.
Other award winners include Marie Mulroy, who received the President’s Award for her exceptional service to the Association, and Sara Rainer, an employee of the Institute on Disability at UNH and a UNH Master of Public Health student who received the Rising Star Award. 
Thank you for all who attended and contributed to another successful NHPHA annual meeting!