Mid-Iowa Health Foundation announces new strategic initiative

Oct 23, 2017

Today, I had the honor of launching a new initiative for Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. In a room filled with community partners and thought leaders I announced the launch of the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation HealthConnect Fellowship and the seven inaugural Fellows selected by MIHF's Board of Directors to participate in this unique initiative.  The HealthConnect Fellowship brings together key leaders in the community to advance the upstream, system level changes necessary to more adequately address social determinants of children’s health. At the event where this program was unveiled, MIHF Board Chair, Teree Caldwell-Johnson expressed, “These seven Fellows were selected because of their demonstrated expertise and dedication to the advancement of policies and practices that address childrens' health barriers.”

I am pleased to share with our community the following seven HealthConnect Fellows:

  • Mrs. Mary Nelle Trefz, health policy associate, Child and Family Policy Center
  • Ms. Lisa Cushatt, program manager, Central Iowa ACEs 360
  • Mr. Josh Hellyer, policy and communications director, Polk County Housing Trust Fund
  • Mrs. Dawn Martinez Oropeza, executive director, Al Éxito
  • Ms. Chaney Yeast, director of government relations and medical-legal project, Blank Children’s Hospital
  • Ms. Becky Miles-Polka, senior consultant, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
  • Mrs. Andrea Dencklau, project manager, Youth Policy Institute of Iowa

So, what is our vision and why do we feel this initiative is an essential investment for the Foundation? The HealthConnect Fellowship is designed to set aside space for experienced children’s health advocates to rethink how to address challenging barriers to, and disparities among, children’s health. Each Fellow will have the opportunity to leverage their current body of policy work on an identified children's health issue with the additional support, guidance and resources of the HealthConnect Fellowship. We are especially pleased to have contracted with Rick Kozin to serve as the lead mentor for the Fellows throughout their time in the Cohort.

But it is important to know this initiative is intended to push beyond the seven Fellows. The two-year initiative is designed to also build capacity and engagement across their organizations and coalitions, as well as our central Iowa community of children’s health advocates.  Our goal will be to bring children's health advocates together for learning, sharing and training opportunities, as well as disseminate learnings from both cohort and Fellow experiences. In fact, today we launched this very HealthConnect blog site to share and stay connected with you! So check back frequently or like us on Facebook to be notified when we have updates! MIHF Facebook Page

We envision this initiative will bring a new level of conversation and action around essential system change necessary for the health and well-being of our children.  We hope you will join us on this journey of learning, sharing and difference-making!

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