Effectively Engaging Community Health Workers (CHWs) during the COVID-19 Response and Beyond

What this webinar covers:

  • CHW roles during the COVID-19 response
  • Strategies to leverage COVID-19 funding for sustainability (sustainable financing) 
  • Strategies to advance CHW state recognition through workforce studies 
  • Exploring CHW certification
  • CHW roles in Medicaid Managed Care
  • Examples of innovations and leadership capacity of CHW Networks to partner with health departments during COVID-19 


Denise Octavia Smith, MBA, CHW, PN is the founding Executive Director of the National Association of Community Health Workers. Denise is a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change, an Aspen Institute Healthy Communities Fellow, and a Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Leader. As a woman of African descent, a CHW, certified patient navigator and survivor of a rare chronic disease, Denise collaborates on national initiatives to advance CHW leadership and roles in COVID-19 response and community recovery, pursue racial equity, and improve clinical and community integration to address the social determinants of health.

Carl Rush, MRP has specialized in policy and workforce development for CHWs since 1996. He has advised CHW policy initiatives in more than 20 individual states, and groups of states for ASTHO and other national organizations. He was a lead author on HRSA’s 2007 CHW National Workforce Study, and co-lead on the CHW Core Consensus (C3) Project (2013-16). Carl convened the first national conference on financial sustainability for CHWs in 2001, and has recently completed two national studies with the CDC on CHW certification and workforce development. He is a member of the NACHW Policy Committee.

Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD is an Associate Professor at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans. She has been a proud ally of the CHW workforce for over a dozen years. She focuses on CHW workforce development and policy and conducts community-academic partnered research focused on promoting health equity. Her work has been funded by CDC, NIH, HRSA, and PCORI. Ashley is a Robert Wood Johnson Interdisciplinary Research Leaders fellow. She currently co-leads the Louisiana CHW Workforce Coalition, along with fellow NACHW board member, Catherine Haywood. Ashley is a co-founder of the Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network (LACHON) and serves as co-chair of NACHW’s policy committee. She previously served as chair of the American Public Health Association Community Health Planning and Policy Development Section as well as chair of the CHW Section Policy Committee.

Catherine Haywood, BSW, CHW is the current chair for the Louisiana Community Health Outreach Network and worked for Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) for the past 20 years. She received her BSW from Southern University at New Orleans. Catherine has worked for the last 30 years advocating for individuals living below poverty levels and working to educate communities around health disparities such as HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancers, other cancers, obesity, and active living. She’s one of the founding members of Women with a Vision, a non-profit organization that has been in existence for the last 30 years. Catherine provides structured mentoring for community members about the PRC’s activities and implements training programs for community residents, barbers, stylists and health care providers around health issues. She is also a Community Health Worker Common Core(C3) fellow.

Venus Ginés, MA, P/CHWI is a 20-year breast cancer survivor. She was a faculty member of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, teaching cultural competence and health literacy as well as conducting research on Latino medical mistrust. In 1997, she founded Día de la Mujer Latina, Inc., a national nonprofit organization, celebrating its signature health fiesta in 39 states, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic, and providing the medically underserved Latina community with culturally and linguistically proficient health education, early detection screening for chronic diseases, culturally tailored preventive programs for Latino teens, and patient-centered navigation. Día de la Mujer Latina is a Texas State Certified Training Program. She is a State-Certified Promotores Instructor and has trained more than 4200 promotores (Community Health Workers).

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