APHA Update - November 2015

By Jeanie Holt

As you know, I represent NHPHA on the Governing Council of APHA. Since GC meets only twice a year, we need a governing body that manages APHA business between GC meetings. This group is the Executive Board. At the Annual Meeting, GC elects representatives to EB. Elected EB members serve 3 years on a rotating basis. So what do I look for in deciding whom to vote for? First, keeping in mind that EB manages a large non-profit including overseeing the work of APHA staff (through Dr. Benjamin, CEO) and makes decisions about finances, policies, and implementation of GC directives, I look for experience on non-profit boards and/or experience managing organizations. A candidate may have great academic credentials, interesting research or a lifetime of working in public health but without a solid foundation in management, they may not be the best candidate. I do not automatically rule out such folks, especially those with a lifetime of working “on the ground”. These public health workers bring valuable life experience and perspectives. I look at the balance of people already on EB to see what other voices might be needed. The other thing I look for in candidates is leadership in a state affiliate. While each affiliate is unique, we share some common needs, perspectives, and issues so experience with those are very important to me, and to NHPHA. We elected three excellent people to the EB: Benjamin Hernandez is Chief Financial Officer at City of Houston Health and Human Services and brings enthusiasm, skills, and a very warm and friendly personality to the EB; Aaron Guest has been active in several state affiliates as he has moved around pursuing first an MPH and now a PhD (in gerontology and public health), and he is an active leader in the Student Assembly; and Elena Ong who has been active in the California South Public Health Association, APHA, and the Asia-Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health.

We also elect the President-Elect. The role of APHA President is a little different from NHPHA’s President. Rather than leading meetings and making organizational decisions, APHA’s President travels. The Pres visits 1/3 of the Affiliates and represents APHA at many national and international meetings. So for this office I look more at wide and deep public health experience. Does the candidate know first-hand about working “in the field”? About navigating tricky political waters? About being a student and mentoring students? About listening? About finding common ground in diverse opinions? Does the candidate have vision? And can the candidate speak compellingly? This year we elected Tom Quade who was the obvious choice for me He meets the qualifications I just discussed. In addition, he has been an important mentor for our star student, Addie Murray. For those who saw her stunning Ignite presentation at our 25th Anniversary Celebration, you’ll understand more about why I am so excited about Tom when you know that he helped Addie shape and refine that presentation.

Don’t stop reading! I want to share one important success the Council of Affiliates had (in addition to helping elect some really stunning people to the EB!). Many NHPHA members ask me every year why they can’t write one check to join both NHPHA and APHA. Some of you may also know that several years ago (11 to be exact) APHA and four states started a Joint Membership Pilot (going to be the longest “pilot” in history) to explore how joint memberships might work. APHA proposed ending the pilot this year saying, “it isn’t working for APHA.” But the Council of Affiliates basically said, “prove it!” As a result of our advocacy on behalf of all 54 affiliates, the EB appointed a committee to decide what metrics to use to measure the success/failure of the JMP and to then evaluate the pilot on the basis of those metrics. The committee will report to GC at our mid-year meeting in June, 2016.

And, finally, the Council of Affiliates elected me as Chair-Elect of the Council of Affiliates and also appointed me to bring the Affiliate “voice” to an APHA task force that will help shape APHA’s global initiatives.
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