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Three Promising Lessons from the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health

LLC is always on the lookout for leadership programs that are testing new approaches, especially innovations that are going after big results.  We were excited when we were approached by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice, Public Health Institute to be part of a curriculum team that was helping to develop a new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded leadership program.  What was most intriguing to us about the program was it's commitment to recruiting multi-sector teams who would receive leadership support as they worked together across their organizations on a community health improvement project.  We also appreciated the programs willingness to experiment with virtual learning platforms, combined with a face to face retreat, and personalized coaching to the teams.  This unique combination supports applied action learning through leadership project coaching, relationship/network building through the retreats and delivery of leadership content and skills development through online modules that help to mitigate the travel costs associated with many leadership delivery strategies.  


NLAPH seeks to build the leadership of participating multi-sector teams of four from around the country in several key areas: personal mastery, cross-sectoral collaboration, continuous learning, strong use of data, and a commitment to a strong public health and social determinants of health perspective.  

There were several interesting  potential lessons for the field that were surfaced in the Cohort 1 final report of NLAPH’s progress. 

1.)  I was eager to learn more about the value of distance learning and was happily surprised to see that 92% of respondents in the evaluation survey felt that the series of webinars offered contributed to their growth as a leader. 

2.)  I also thought it was interesting that a number of respondents (over 80%) felt that they had expanded their local professional networks through working within their local teams.  Many leadership programs think of the network potential predominantly as the other program participants/fellows.  This is an ideal scenario, one where the participants begin to connect one another to their own networks outside of the program.  This potential is exponential and making progress on community health will require expanded reach and influence. 

3.)  The teams are taking a long term view of their projects and the role that NLAPH plays in moving them through the developmental phases of forming, norming, storming, and performing.  Regardless of where they are on this continuum as their program winds down (a difference often related to the history of the team at the time of recruitment) the teams are implementing or have laid solid ground for the work that will continue.  


The sustained impact of this program on improved community health will likely yield positive results for years.  Participants who have increased their collaborative capacity and commitment to multi-sectoral population health leadership have the tools to leverage their resources and innovation well beyond the formal duration of each NLAPH session.