NACCHO Annual: A Can’t-Miss Learning Opportunity for Local Health Department Leaders and Staff

By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO

NACCHO Annual is one of the highlights of my year. While my staff and I work diligently year-round to ensure NACCHO is a leader, partner, catalyst, and voice for local health departments (LHDs), I get to experience the energy, hard work, and dedication of our members firsthand at NACCHO Annual. In no other venue is passion for improving health and well-being at the local level as palpable. The conference brings together leaders from across the country—from small, rural counties to large, urban cities and everything in between. In talking to a variety of LHD leaders and staff, I’ve noticed that their stories all reflect a core commitment to creating healthier and safer communities. Perhaps more important than any new model practice or insightful takeaway, I value NACCHO Annual for the renewed sense of inspiration, connection, and purpose it brings me.

Targeted Learning Opportunities

NACCHO Annual 2016, July 19–21 in Phoenix, is designed to give attendees a year’s worth of replicable strategies and ideas to improve the health of their communities. This year’s conference will host more than 100 sharing sessions on everything from preventing child maltreatment to community health needs assessments. A panel of LHD leaders selected the sessions based on their relevance and usefulness for local health officials and their staff. Here are just three of the compelling sessions being offered:

  • Understanding Racial Disparities in Cancer: Use of Cancer Screening Services by Race and Ethnicity in El Paso County, CO, will examine racial disparities in cancer screening and discuss community-based strategies to increase access to and use of recommended screenings by at-risk groups.
  • Planning for Healthy Communities: Introduction to the Healthy Places Assessment Tool, will present tools for assessing whether local comprehensive land use plans support health outcomes.
  • Telling Stories with Data: How to Combine Data with Strategy and Storytelling to Improve Public Health will explore methods for building bridges between data and the audiences that can act on those data to improve public health.

Dozens of sharing session descriptions are also available on the NACCHO Annual website. Additionally, we’ve developed an application for the conference that helps participants plan their conference experience from start to finish. Plan your schedule.

Attendees will also find inspiration by celebrating the best and brightest projects, programs, and leaders at the Grand Awards Ceremony. The event honors winners of NACCHO’s Model Practices Awards, the Local Health Department of the Year Awards, and the Maurice “Mo” Mullet Lifetime of Service Award. NACCHO’s Model Practices Awards honor innovative, replicable local public health programs that have a demonstrable impact on improving the health and safety of communities. Check out our Model Practices Database to learn more about the winning programs.

Insights from National Leaders in Public Health

The conference also provides a unique opportunity to connect LHD leaders and staff to national experts for the latest information and case studies on emerging issues such as the opioid and prescription drug epidemic or the Zika virus. This year’s Tuesday plenary session, Federal Policy Perspectives: Collaborating to Strengthen Local Public Health, will feature John Auerbach, MBA, Associate Director for Policy and Acting Director of the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Leandris Liburd, PhD, MPH, MA, Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the CDC; and Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. They’ll share their insights about how their agencies can work with LHDs to address the leading causes of chronic disease, advance health equity, and tackle emerging public health challenges.

Wednesday’s plenary session, Building Power for Health Equity, will undoubtedly be a highlight of this year’s program. The panel discussion will feature Dr. Tony Iton, Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities at The California Endowment; Kathleen Grassi, RD, MPH, Director of the Merced County (CA) Department of Public Health; Elsa Jimenez, MPH, Interim Director, Monterey County (CA) Health Department; and Melissa Jones, MPA, Executive Director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative.

Dr. Iton is a trailblazer in the health equity movement and leads The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative, a billion-dollar, 14-site place-based health improvement effort targeting comprehensive local and statewide policy and systems change. He’ll describe the Building Healthy Communities theory of change and lessons learned, and he’ll share his thoughts on how LHDs can advance a health equity practice.

Grassi will describe how her health department advanced a health equity agenda in a rural, conservative context by supporting cross-sector, community-centered efforts to improve access to vital health-promoting infrastructure in divested parts of Merced County. Jimenez will describe the evolution of LHD efforts to advance Health in All Policies thinking and action and drive a multisector, community-driven approach based on the principles of Governing for Racial Equity. Finally, Jones will discuss the importance of organizing LHDs regionally to advance health equity and discuss the benefits, challenges, and lessons learned from her organization.

Unmatched Peer-Networking

Attendees from past years say that one of the greatest benefits of attending NACCHO Annual is the informal networking opportunities that the conference provides. We’ve scheduled plenty of time for attendees to connect with their peers and partners to share their challenges and successes, swap stories from the field, and create lasting collegial relationships. Our president will host a reception Tuesday night to welcome attendees to the conference. We also host a special networking breakfast every year for first-time conference attendees and new members; it’s a unique opportunity to meet new colleagues, hear more about the benefits of NACCHO membership, and learn how to make the most of the conference experience.

I encourage NACCHO members and partners to take advantage of the unique opportunities NACCHO Annual offers. I’m looking forward to connecting with our members, gaining new insights, and getting inspired. Be sure to register on or before June 9 to get the early-bird registration rate. See you in Phoenix!

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