“I have never been part of something like this before, meeting so many people in public health and taking back new ideas to my health department. It was inspiring.”
On Monday, July 10, NACCHO welcomed 46 Public Health AmeriCorps members on scholarship to our annual conference this year in Denver, Colorado. The conference theme, “Elevating Public Health Practice for Today and Tomorrow,” provided members access to four days of over 200 sessions in addition to plenaries, poster sessions, networking opportunities, and a robust exhibit hall at NACCHO’s largest annual conference to date. The theme fit seamlessly for this scholarship opportunity, as Public Health AmeriCorps is a pathways program to the future of the public health profession. The conference focused on providing both traditional and more innovative approaches to meeting changing workforce and community needs.
The week kicked off with an orientation and training opportunity hosted by NACCHO and Public Health AmeriCorps. Members traveled from around the country, from Arizona to New York and in between, to connect with their peers and identify personal and professional goals for the week. The orientation was brimming with excitement as they were welcomed by Public Health AmeriCorps and NACCHO before hearing from two senior health officials: Bruce Dart, Executive Director of Tulsa Health Department in Oklahoma and Danny Scalise, Public Health Director of the Burke County Health Department in North Carolina. They spoke about their unique roads to leadership and opportunities for members to make an impact on the health of their local community. As this was the first conference and professional event of this size for many of the members, an in-depth training covered the “how to” of conference expectations and professional networking with case studies and experiential practice with their peers. Members were given resources for the course of the week to encourage relationship building and foster goal development and action planning.
On day 3 of the conference, AJ Pearlman, Director of Public Health AmeriCorps, spoke about the development and varied benefits of the program including opportunities for local health departments to get involved. The room was full of palpable energy and featured PHA members in the audience and three panelists who spoke about their path to involvement in PHA and plans for future careers in public health.
By the close of the conference many members left with new friendships, an expanded view of public health, networking opportunities, and education and resources to take back to their health department. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with some of the sentiments shared with our team:
- “Thank you again, I had a blast. I have never been part of something like this before, meeting so many people in public health and taking back new ideas to my health department. It was inspiring.”
- “It was a privilege for me to attend this conference. Thank you for everything you have done to make it happen, I truly had an amazing experience.”
- “This event made me hopeful for my career…It helped me figure out that I think I want to go into PH nursing after PHA.”