Jeanie Holt: APHA

JeanieIn November, the American Public Health Association (APHA) Governing Council elected me to a four-year term on the APHA Executive Board. I am honored and awed by this opportunity. And I credit NHPHA with giving me opportunities, guidance, role models, and mentors; for putting me on this path into leadership.

Role of APHA Executive Board: The APHA By-laws detail a list of more than 20 responsibilities of the Executive Board in five broad categories: policy, management, program, membership, and deployment. To give you a picture, let me summarize the January meeting of the Executive Board. We meet in-person for three days every January. At this year’s meeting we reviewed our fiduciary responsibilities and expectations as Board members, appointed qualified folks to several APHA leadership positions, approved guidelines and policies on gifts and donations, reviewed financial documents, received a report from Executive Director, Dr. Georges Benjamin, on the state of APHA, discussed the Executive Board work plan and the strategic plan, and met in committees to update committee work plans for 2019. And we got acquainted, laughed a lot, and challenged each other in wall sitting.

Committees: I have been asked to serve on three Executive Board committees (EB members are required to serve on two). The Personnel Committee is responsible for conducting the annual evaluation of Dr. Benjamin. I have little experience in personnel matters so this committee will help me learn new skills. Dr. Benjamin has served as APHA’s Executive Director for 17 years, so we have obviously been satisfied with his job performance. But that adds challenge—how do you push someone at the top of their game to excel further?! Additionally, Dr. Benjamin is at retirement age, so part of our work in the committee and as a board is ensuring we have good succession planning for when he chooses to leave.

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I also serve on the Strategic Implementation Committee. Many of you know how crazy passionate I am about the APHA Strategic Plan. I have been volunteering time to facilitate strategic planning with affiliates (10 to date with 2 more in the next month) to help them align their strategic plans with APHA’s. New Hampshire was the first affiliate to align—credit to Joyce Gaufin who led our process when she was APHA’s President. I sometimes use NHPHA’s plan as a model to help other affiliates see what alignment looks like. And I use the work plan format developed when Marie Mulroy, Laura Davie, and I worked together to make the strategic plan into a work plan. Part of what I want to look at—and learn more about—during my time on the Strategic Implementation Committee is the metrics used to track progress. This is an area that every affiliate I’ve worked with struggles to design. More study and reading to do in that area for sure!

The third committee may be my favorite: Governance. I find that I really enjoy thinking about how to make an organization work effectively. The Governance Committee conducts an evaluation of each Board meeting and offers suggestions for improvement. We also conduct an in-depth exit survey with Board members at the end of their terms. Part of both surveys is assessing the ongoing education needs of Board members and then finding resources to address those needs. Another area we address is looking at Board composition and gaps, passing that information on to the Nominations Committee.

Benefits for NHPHA: APHA is very explicit: while you serve on the Executive Board, you must focus on the entire organization, not the component or sector through which you arrived at the Executive Board. (This dictum challenges me because I believe so much progress in public health happens at state and local levels—so affiliates are very important!) Obviously, NHPHA will not get any direct perks from my position. However, we will benefit. First, there is national recognition of New Hampshire and NHPHA—we are on the radar. Who knows what will come our way as a result. In addition, the connections I make can help NHPHA in our work. For example, as we consider a position on marijuana legislation, I have reached out to folks I know from around the country to get information to help in our deliberations. I will also travel to DC for EB meetings several times a year and will use some of those as opportunities to visit NH’s Congressional delegation. Another benefit I see is the education and skills development that will happen just by virtue of being on the Board and the committees. I hope I can be a resource for NHPHA with what I learn. Finally, I hope I can be a mentor and role model for younger public health professionals. As I mentioned at the beginning, NHPHA has been my springboard into leadership. I want to be the wind beneath the wings of the next NHPHA members who want to keep their roots planted firmly in our fertile ground, while soaring to new heights in public health leadership.

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2019 APHA Executive Board

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