Written by: Sheila Snow-Croft, Public Health Coordinator, National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A), firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to the Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHA) for being named the American Public Health Association’s Outstanding Affiliate of the Year! The announcement was made on November 15th at the Council of Affiliates Awards Reception at the American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting in New Orleans.
This award is given to an APHA Affiliate “that provides a model for other affiliates for work or project(s) of high value in the field of public health.” MPHA states that a cumulative effort over the past five plus years garnered this award, and explains that the efforts to develop and sustain MPHA can be highlighted in 5 key areas:
- Building the Foundation
- Making a Difference
- Learning to Grow
- Selling the Message
- Keeping it Going
Building the Foundation:
MPHA improved its infrastructure to include a business plan, a part-time Executive Director, several part-time contract staff, a new membership database, and an email system.
Making a Difference:
MPHA strengthened and expanded its advocacy efforts by establishing an Annual Legislative Agenda, appointing a policy intern to track key legislation, developing an Advocacy Toolkit to arm members with advocacy skills, and creating a system of Action Alerts to notify members to contact their legislators. These advancements, along with strategic partnerships, allowed MPHA to successfully prevent any cuts to the Mississippi State Department of Health in 2012.
Learning to Grow:
In the past five years, the Mississippi Public Health Conference and Business Meeting has become the premier public health event in Mississippi. The conference provides three keynote sessions and over 15 concurrent workshops to over 400 health professionals. MPHA also implements National Public Health Week activities across the state each year and sponsored seminars on water fluoridation for Mississippi water system operators. They co-sponsored the Mississippi Health Summit from 2011 through 2013, which brought 150 stakeholders together to learn and develop health strategies, and co-sponsored a state-wide education event titled “The Power of Municipalities & Community Leaders to Protect the Health of Mississippians” in 2014.
Selling the Message:
In 2013, MPHA received a 3 year grant from The Bower Foundation and began a communications overhaul. During the initial year of the grant, MPHA rebranded itself as the First Line of Defense for public health in Mississippi; rolled out a robust new website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed; produced over 15 testimonial videos; developed new marketing materials; and hired a part-time Communications Coordinator, Agusta Callaway.
Keeping It Going:
“This award from APHA is an honor and a tribute to the incremental progress we have made. We want all of our members to share this outstanding achievement and continue to support your professional association” stated Buddy Daughdrill, Executive Director. “Let’s get everyone more involved to keep moving forward.”