September 2021 Moment of the Month: NLAPH Coach, Dr. Arthur Chen, “Visits” the Valley

HCP & Mahoning Valley Highlights for National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health Virtual Visit

A bright spot at the end of an otherwise dark year was the announcement that members of the Healthy Community Partnership were accepted into the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH). 

NLAPH began in 2011 to provide training to four-person multi-sector teams from across the country to advance their leadership skills and achieve health equity in their community.

From chronic disease prevention and disaster preparedness to safe streets and food security, our evidence-based program helps you address a wide range of public health challenges and create lasting change.

Locations of the CDC NLAPH Cohort 10 Teams

This sounds like it was made for HCP, so it was great news that four partners were accepted into the program and have been able to participate in the 10th Cohort, which includes 13 other incredible teams from across the country. Participating members from HCP include: Carmella Williams, Cassandra Clevenger, Michelle Edison, and Sarah Lowry. 

The program is an intensive year-long process with coaching sessions, webinars, trainings, and tool kits made available monthly to keep cohorts active and engaged with each other and advancing their leadership goals. Kicking-off the process is a multi-day retreat, which was an incredible and inspiring experience even though it had to be held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Each team was requested to make a presentation or video introducing themselves sand their communities to the rest of the cohort. Here is HCP’s intro video:

Topics from the retreat and throughout the process included Data Collection & Evaluation, Framing the Message, Policy & Health Equity, and Collaboration Sustainability. All areas of significant importance to HCP’s individual and collective work.

Truth is in the eye of the beholder | Photo courtesy of David Sarkisov

Teams are also responsible for identifying an Action Learning Project that is connected to their specific priorities and work in their communities. For HCP, the NLAPH team decided to explore developing a project based on the concept of PhotoVoice as a component of the upcoming Community Health Assessment.

Photovoice is a process in which people – usually those with limited power due to poverty, language barriers, race, class, ethnicity, gender, culture, or other circumstances – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The pictures can then be used, usually with captions composed by the photographers, to bring the realities of the photographers’ lives home to the public and policy makers and to spur change.

Specifically, the concept for the project will work with HCP Steering Committee Members to identify up to six communities and/or neighborhoods in our two county region to focus our data collection efforts. These locations will be identified based on data collected through previous Community Health Assessments as well as sources like the US Census, the American Community Survey, County Health Rankings, etc. The HCP NLAPH Team is interested in gathering data and responses from diverse residents living in different environments–urban, suburban, and rural–as well as representing different demographics–race, age, gender identity, socio-economic status, etc. The goal of the PhotoVoice Action Learning Project will be to capture qualitative data via stories and photographs that reflect the lived experiences of residents that demonstrate factors that contribute to or create barriers to living full, healthy lives.

HCP NLAPH Team members identified this as their Action Learning Project for several reasons based on HCP goals, vision/mission, and guiding principles: to fulfill our objectives related to more directly engaging with the community and ensuring resident perspectives are incorporated into the Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plans early on.

Dr. Arthur Chen—NLAPH Coach

On top of several outstanding presentations from national and international public health experts, perhaps the most valuable part of the NLAPH program was being introduced to our “coach,” Dr. Arthur Chen. Team coaches meet monthly with their teams to discuss leadership topics from trust-building to meeting facilitation to better understanding leadership styles–as individuals and collectively. Dr. Chen’s approach to leadership is a well-refined blend of experience, expertise, and empathy–the last part has been incredibly helpful in teaching a group of Thinkers–according to results the Myers-Briggs Personality Type model– learn how to Feel.

A quick snapshot of Dr. Chen’s impressive background and biography can be found here: 

Dr. Arthur Chen | TIME 2011 Person of the Year: Protesters | Photo credit: Peter Hapak for TIME

Dr. Chen quickly fit into and connected with the mission, vision, and values of HCP, especially the intentional focus on confronting racism and other oppressive forces that perpetuate health inequities. While composing this piece, it was revealed that Dr. Chen’s commitment to justice, equity, and advocacy has lead him down the path towards, to borrow revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis’ words, “good trouble.” In 2011, Dr. Chen was interviewed by Jason Motlag with TIME Magazine as part of a series of profiles connected to the 2011 Person of the Year: Protesters—from the Arab Spring to to Athens; from Occupy Wall Street to Moscow. In his profile, Dr. Chen shares what inspired him and why he participated in Occupy Oakland protests:

I’m part of that 99%, proud to say, so it’s very relevant. And then in addition to that … I’ve been seeing patients that are low-income impacted, many of them unemployed, and then struggling for survival. They’re immigrants, and so I’ve seen the negative impacts in their lives from day to day. And I’ve seen uninsured patients who have to struggle with the recommendations that I make because of whether or not they can afford it. So it’s been real to me on a personal level, and looking at the population as a whole, looking at the patients that I see, and just knowing intellectually that there’s flaws in our current system…

It was really hearing it in the news and hearing it through radio announcements […] And so they were openly publicizing it and explaining it. So it was really helpful, and that prompted me to feel, okay, this is the moment, and you really have to participate and you have to take time off and be there in solidarity with this and, you know, help have representation. And then as a person of color, certainly here in Oakland, we have such a diverse population, but it’s really important for people to see that the whole spectrum of our demographics is there, and feeling the need to really participate and be counted.

Like everything and everyone else, NLAPH has had to adapt its model and process to pandemic life, which has meant that all of the in-person convenigns have had to happen virtually, much like the retreat. This meant that instead of being able to visit the Valley in person, Dr. Chen had to “visit” virtually. In September, Dr. Chen joined the HCP Steering Committee and the HCP Healthy Food Retail Action Team during their meetings to share information about the NLAPH program and encourage other HCP memes to consider submitting an application to become NLAPH fellows. He was able to meet and interact other members of HCP and see first hand how partners work together—he was even able to experience a proposal presentation, which is not something that happens every month. 

In addition to Dr. Chen’s “visits” to the HCP teams, the HCP NLAPH fellows created a Mahoning Valley & HCP Highlights video, which was included above.

The HCP NLAPH fellows have thoroughly enjoyed participating in this process and all of the ways the program provided to engage in collective and individual leadership development: From the monthly Coach Team Meetings to the webinars to the planning tools–each element fit together to complete the puzzle about what impactful, innovaging, and inspiring leadership looks like.

Reflecting back on almost a year of working together, the HCP NLAPH fellows emphasized that the most important take-aways, resources, and experiences gained were people: the addition of a new “partner”—Dr. Chen—and the pricelessness of creating strong, lasting relationships woven together with intention, hope, and love.