Public Health AmeriCorps First Cohort Graduation

NACDD’s Public Health AmeriCorps (PHA) program has reached a significant and exciting milestone with the graduation of its first cohort of Service Members! Since Spring and Summer 2023, the program has recruited and placed 12 Service Members across eight states to propel state- and community-level efforts addressing food and nutrition security, safe physical activity access, and social connectedness through policy, systems, and environmental change approaches.

As of last month, five Service Members successfully completed their service term, with the remaining cohorts slated to graduate next month. These Service Members have not only demonstrated their exceptional commitment to service but have also honed their skills in navigating complex public health challenges including strategies for advancing equity and building healthy, resilient communities. NACDD recognizes their pivotal role in shaping the future of public health and is committed to supporting its PHA alumni as they take the next step in their professional journeys.

All Host Sites reported enhancements in program efficiency, effectiveness, or reach as a result of the Service Members’ efforts; the following testimonials highlight their appreciation and showcase the Service Members’ transformative impact:

  • “We appreciate the work that [the Service Member] did making connections for the sustainability of the Lalumier garden as well as the research for the Good Neighbor Policy. Both projects will run more efficiently with the supports that she put in place.” – Jackie Joyner-Kersee Food Agriculture Nutrition Innovation Center/Gateway Region YMCA Host Site Supervisor
  • “The Service Member has improved the efficiency, effectiveness, and scale of the technical assistance that Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is able to provide to local public health Statewide Health Improvement Partnership staff. This has included assisting planning for technical assistance, developing systems for consistent and timely follow-up, creating materials such as “In Case You Missed It/At a Glance” documents, and expanded MDH staff’s ability to connect with local public health.” – Minnesota Department of Health Host Site Supervisor
  • “The Service Member has been able to support capacity around raising awareness of chronic condition prevention and management resources for Washingtonians. Additionally, Member has supported communications, amplifying reach and impact through expanded capacity.” – Washington State Department of Health Host Site Supervisor

One of PHA’s Host Site Supervisor-Service Member duos at the Philadelphia Department of Health was recently featured in a new podcast from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), “Building Public Health Leaders: Voices from Public Health AmeriCorps.” Ousmane Diarra, PHA Service Member and pre-med student, and Jennifer Aquilante, PHA Host Site Supervisor and Food Policy Coordinator, share their PHA story including the program’s service-learning experience, professional development opportunities, and benefits for Service Members and Host Sites alike. Listen to learn more about how Ousmane has supported activities that enhance local food systems and expand the urban agriculture network in Philadelphia throughout his service year.

NACDD maintains an unwavering commitment to bolstering the public health workforce by broadening the reach of its program. This month, NACDD PHA is concluding recruitment efforts for the second programmatic year, with the goal of placing 30 Service Members across 14 states (Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia) by July.

Looking ahead into Year 3, the program is recruiting additional Host Sites who are interested in leveraging PHA Service Members to expand capacity within their organizations and programs. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Host Site, please reach out to NACDD’s PHA Program Manager Tierney Thomison.

A partnership between AmeriCorps and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the PHA program is a five-year, $400 million investment from the American Rescue Plan Act that supports the recruitment, training, and development of the next generation of public health leaders. The two main goals of the program include:

  • Addressing public health needs of local communities by providing support in state and local public health settings and advancing more equitable health outcomes for underserved communities; and
  • Creating pathways to good quality public health-related careers through onsite experience and training, with a focus on recruiting AmeriCorps members who reflect the communities in which they will serve.

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