Presenting the Power of Collaboration
Jan. 17, 2018
A panel featuring Felipe Tendick-Matesanz of Culture of Health Leaders and participants from three of RWJF’s other leadership development programs took center stage at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting, the nation’s largest gathering of people working to advance public health, in Atlanta on Nov. 6.
The panel, moderated by RWJF’s John Lumpkin, senior vice president/program, highlighted the need and opportunity for public health to work with people from many other sectors to improve community conditions for health. Panelists also spoke—with great conviction—about the unique nature of the leadership programs to help them collaborate with people from other sectors, linking fields from transportation to labor relations to health.
Felipe Tendick-Matesanz shared his story of becoming an organizer for restaurant workers and making the strong connection between labor and health. “Wages are a major health lever but are not often talked about in health circles,” said Felipe, chapter director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Chicago, a chapter of Restaurant Opportunities Center United. “We want to challenge the status quo. Culture of Health Leaders takes that seriously. It helps us fine-tune our leadership styles and gives us space to think about our longer-term strategy.”
Lumpkin concluded the panel by asking each speaker to share who had most influenced them during their time in their respective programs. The answer was unanimous: the other people in the programs, who inspired them with creative solutions to pressing problems, exposed them to new ways of thinking, and opened access to research and new approaches they hadn’t had access to before.
For more information about all the programs, including a tool to help determine which program might be right for you or someone you know, please visit the RWJF Program Finder.
Achieving What One Leader Can Not Do Alone
Jan. 3, 2018
Cross-sector collaboration is key to finding innovative solutions to the nation’s most difficult health challenges. RWJF’s leadership development programs offer participants a unique opportunity to connect with those outside of their usual circles. Two leadership program participants—Bettina Byrd-Giles, Culture of Health Leader, and Derek Hyra, PhD, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellow—have done just that.
While representing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) at the Aspen Ideas Festival this past year, the duo realized that Bettina’s community of Ensley in Birmingham, AL could benefit from Derek’s work in understanding gentrification and neighborhood development trends. As a result, Derek and Bettina will now work together to measure the impact of her organization, Ensley Alive, which is dedicated to Ensley’s renaissance as a cultural center where all residents have the opportunity for healthier, thriving lives. Derek will also meet with community stakeholders to discuss neighborhood development trends and share his research on the gentrification’s effects on communities.
This collaboration will allow Bettina to evaluate and evolve Ensley Alive’s work in real time to best meet the needs of her community, and allow Derek to share his research in a new community where it can be directly and immediately applied.
If you are interested in learning more about Derek’s work and research, come to the community stakeholder meeting he and Bettina are hosting:
January 26, 2018
3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Library
4812 Avenue W.
Birmingham, AL 35208
In turn, Clinical Scholars, another RWJF leadership development program, has recognized Bettina’s expertise in cultural competency and asked her to help bring her perspective to their current cohort of fellows as part of their health equity curriculum.
These programs encourage participants to take on the big, complex issues that are perpetuating health inequities in America. Bettina and Derek are demonstrating what can happen when you diverse people and perspectives united around a common goal.
To learn more about Bettina’s work in Ensley, you can follow Ensley Alive on Twitter at @EnsleyAlive or visit her profile page.
Raising Urban Greens
Nov. 17, 2017
Agriculture and farming are the cornerstone of rural life across Georgia. Now, Eugene Cooke is working to bring this practice to the city of Atlanta by helping residents plant fruit and vegetable gardens in their own communities. Eugene’s program, called Grow Where You Are, is a full-service agricultural business that helps design and implement organic farming practices and urban gardening throughout the region. Since 2012, the program has built a robust three-acre farm-to-market site that has served as a research, teaching, and training facility dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and food justice. Eugene’s partner, JoVanna Johnson-Cooke, is heavily involved with the program and also runs her own initiative, MaituFoods, which delivers vegan meals to schools while highlighting the benefits of healthy nutrition through a vegan diet.
Eugene and JoVanna were recently featured in Atlanta Magazine. You can learn more about their work with urban farming practices by reading the article, or visiting the Grow Where You Are or MaituFoods websites.
Eugene Cooke is a member of the 2017 cohort of the Culture of Health Leaders program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Check back soon to learn more about Eugene’s work!
Growing Community Ownership
Oct. 1, 2017
Joelle Robinson, a social scientist with the Food and Drug Administration, joined Culture of Health Leaders in 2016 to develop her skills and network to expand urban agriculture in Washington, D.C. With the program’s support, she hopes to pursue solutions to food insecurity and social inequity by advancing local policy initiatives in the agricultural space. For Joelle, these strategies are key to creating more sustainable communities on a mental, physical, and spiritual level. You can learn more about her work as a Culture of Health Leader on her bio page.