Wally Burden has been involved with preparedness since 2001. In his current role as Senior Local Liaison in the Office of Performance Innovation with the Ohio Department of Health, Burden serves as a conduit between the state and local health departments, sharing information, knowledge, and resources on a range of preparedness issues.
For over a decade, Burden has also been involved with Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a criteria-based training and recognition program that assesses local health department (LHD) capacity and capability to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. This program created by NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recognized over 500 LHDs since 2004.
“Local health departments who are recognized by PPHR are healthier, better prepared, and capable of doing things in a better way,” said Burden.
As a PPHR National Reviewer, Burden spends a lot of time reviewing the plans of LHDs who are applying for PPHR recognition to help assess their level of compliance with the program’s criteria.
“I’ve got a passion for this,” said Burden. “As a reviewer, you have to have an interest in all aspects of preparedness.”
As part of the intensive 18-month program, teams of two-to-three reviewers evaluate up to three applications from September through December with one in-person meeting to conduct a team review.
“The review process provides the opportunity to see how people do things differently,” said Burden. “I always learn something new every time I read a plan.”
Burden is looking forward to the return of the in-person reviewer meeting this fall—something that was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The opportunity to sit down with peers—the camaraderie and socialization—is its own reward. I always have a great time,” said Burden. “Through PPHR, I’ve made great friends from the east to the west coast that I can call on day-to-day.”
In thinking of what advice he would offer to those considering becoming a review, Burden recommends “being open-minded in your evaluation of what others do” and notes that “relating your feedback in a positive way teaches great communications skills.”
Through June 30 PPHR is recruiting national reviewers for applicants seeking recognition in 2023. Learn about the benefits of participating and how to get involved.