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News & Press: WPHA News

WPHA President's Message from Lieske Giese - August 2019

Monday, August 26, 2019  
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It’s hard to believe the summer has almost come and gone. It feels like we were just at the Annual Public Health Conference with 500 attendees. There certainly has been a lot going on within WPHA as well as public health nationally. All remind me of the important work we do every day.


In July we held the WPHA Leadership retreat for Board members and Section/Committee leadership.  We discussed ways to advance our strategic plan, began our work on looking at organizational racial equity with Ubuntu Research, and discussed ways to advance WPHA and public health in WI and nationally. We also reviewed the results of the 2019 Member Survey – a survey that we’ve been doing over the last few years to determine next steps and initiatives, and collect feedback to what else members are hoping to accomplish. We had a 25% response rate for the survey – we always can hope for more but are pleased with that.  The comments were greatly appreciated!   THANK YOU to all of you for taking the time out of your schedules to let us know what can be done to make YOUR organization even better. We need your ideas but also need your participation - there are always other ways to get engaged.


In August we held the Public Health in Practice Conference with over 125 attendees in Stevens Point – another opportunity to network and learn with each other. This conference provides tangible skills to take back to your organizations. It was great to see many new faces in attendance there. Stay tuned for announcements of Regional Meetings in late October and November, highlighting some great topics and opportunities to connect together again! We look forward to seeing you there and please invite someone to join you at this learning and networking opportunity. 


There has been a lot of legislative work in Wisconsin.  It has been one of my goals to have WPHA to continue to be “at the table”.  As you know, this can be difficult because of the wide range of topics and issues but I feel we are becoming more of the voice in the State.   Our key legislative priorities as well as Medicaid expansion, Tobacco 21, Immunizations, and advancing health equity in Wisconsin are examples of areas we have weighed in on. The Public Affairs Committee continues to monitor what is happening in the State Legislature closely. Be sure to check out the legislative grid for all bills – we have included in those we are monitoring, as well as in support or opposition. A great tool for you to use as you advocate for public health.  Let us know if we are missing something important to you.


Not only are we working on state issues but there is so much that we are watching nationally as well.  At the most recent board meeting for example we discussed how we can engage and voice our concerns at the national level, supporting our national counterparts at APHA as they look to address mass shootings and other topics of critical importance.  Clearly, hatred and gun violence are one of the major public health challenges of our time. Our community can, and must, continue to conduct research, educate and advocate for a world without violence. Read more in the APHA statement here that WPHA supports.  In addition, the recent announcement of the federal ‘public charge’ rule related to benefits for immigrants is a public health issue. APHA’s statement ended well – “As public health professionals, we do not turn our backs on people in need, and we do not intentionally set roadblocks to accessing services and assistance that promote health. At a time when our nation faces a declining life expectancy and growing health disparities, we cannot afford to discourage people from accessing basic health and nutrition services and limit housing options.”

Don’t forget that your voice has power on the local, state, and national level – and we need to do a better job to use our COLLECTIVE voice together to make changes for our state and our country. As always, we are thankful for the work all of you do as public health professionals in our state! Remember this is OUR public health organization – help make it great!


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