From ‘What is the CHW Alliance,’ to actively asserting my voice in CHW Alliance meetings
Upon graduating with a Masters in Global Public Health from the University of St. Catherine I was contacted by a mentor, Anne Ganey.
Anne Ganey, MPH is a healthcare consultant who works with the Minnesota CHW Alliance. I knew Anne previously when I applied for the CHW leadership program a few years ago now.
At that time I was new to the CHW field and did not know many CHWs, had never heard of the CHW Alliance, and did not yet grasp the impact community health workers made in closing healthcare disparities.
I found out about the CHW leadership program through a previous CHW Supervisor who encouraged me to apply. The CHW leadership program was a pivotal experience for me because it helped me build my confidence as a CHW and a leader, it taught me the importance of networking and building community with other CHWs and allies of the field, and I learned about how CHWs can get more involved with advocacy and policy. I made many great connections during my time in the program and kept in touch with Anne who is one of the facilitators of the Leadership Program.
It was through this past connection to Anne Ganey and the Alliance that I ultimately wound up being tapped on the shoulder for a contract position with the Alliance. The Alliance needed someone to assist with the initial phase of communication and marketing of the CHW Registry. I accepted the temporary position because of how important I felt the work was. The CHW workforce in Minnesota still felt constrained by many of the issues that I’d first noticed when I started over 5 years ago: CHWs were mostly unrecognized, discounted, and siloed from one another. The CHW Registry which launched last November is a voluntary listing of CHWs working across the state of MN; not only will the registry serve to show officials, CHW employers, and organizations the make-up of the CHW workforce, it serves as a platform for CHWs and CHW supervisors to connect to one another, share resources, job postings, and upcoming trainings.
My contract position ended at the end of last year but I still maintain a connection to The Alliance by attending online meetings regularly. The two meetings that I am a part of are the Registry committee and the Legislative Action Committee. Both of which I feel could use more CHW voices. The Alliance is meant to bolster the CHW workforce and it will take many more CHWs and allies of the field for us to see greater recognition, employment, and advancement of CHWs in the social services and healthcare systems. I am optimistic that we are headed in the right direction and staying connected to what is going on with CHW advocacy and in the community has been a big part of that belief.
-Shandy Potes Mangra
Join the CHW Learning Circle Meeting Wednesday, May 5th at 3:00 PM to discuss Post-Covid Preparation for CHWs.
Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/98217639355?pwd=d3E2azRYdkpVaS9ua05GUzE4R0Vhdz09
All CHW and like positions are welcome to join!
Who? Me? Work on a planning committee?
At some point, every CHW in MN has been and/or will be faced with these questions. It’s just a matter of time! For me, it began with being a part of the 2017-2018 MN CHW Alliance Leadership Development Program. Because our graduation corresponded perfectly with the timing of the 2018 statewide CHW Conference we were asked to join the planning committee. Now I’m not a “stand up in front of people” kind of person but I do love to work “behind the scenes”.
The planning of a conference takes about a year and begins with a lot of questions: “What will the theme be?” “Where will we hold it?” “Who will the speakers be?” “How will we pay for it?” “Who will help by sponsoring it?” “What is our budget?” “Will we have food?” “If so, what kind? And who will cater it?” “Will we have “vendors” with tables of information?” “If so, who will they be and how will they find out about this opportunity?” “How will we provide networking opportunities for CHWs and Stakeholders?” “Who will staff the registration table, the learning sessions, the general flow around the venue?” The list goes on and every question provides an opportunity for CHWs to become involved. By being a part of this kind of planning and collaboration, I have learned so much about myself, the process and work behind putting on such an event, and; most importantly; the scope of impact that the CHW field has across the State of Minnesota.
While the conference that was planned for 2020 was canceled, I am oh so hopeful that we will soon be able to begin planning for 2022! There will be many roles to fill so there’s sure to be something you can do that fits your interest and time availability. Watch here for more updates to come and join the registry for great discussions about what our next conference will look like. Who’s with me?
-Kimberli Barker, CHW
Hi, my name is Jeanne Holfield and I work as a Peer Recovery Specialist (PRS) and a Community Health Worker (CHW) for Meeker-McLeod-Sibley Community Health Services.
In January 2019 I had just finished up the online portion of the course to become a CHW. The last week of this training was spent in-person doing a Maternal Child Health class taught by Amanda Wasielewski. At the end of 2020, I was invited to be a Teacher’s Assistant with Amanda as she taught a new class, online, bringing my expertise as a Recovery Specialist to the class. All because of the support Minnesota CHWs get from the Minnesota CHW Alliance.
WOW! First, I was honored to be asked, and second, a bit scared, as this was out of my comfort zone. What do I know about helping to teach a class? Then I stepped back and realized it’s what I do in my job as a CHW/PRS on a daily basis (teach and share my experience). I knew the curriculum as I’d already completed the class, and I certainly know all about recovery, being a woman in long-term recovery. The “Mothers for Recovery” aspect was added to the course I had already taken. The program is designed to prepare CHWs and PSS (Peer Support Specialists) to work with mothers in recovery. What a wonderful idea! I had the privilege of working with Amanda and nine wonderful women who wanted to learn more about pregnant and parenting women and how to support their recovery from substance use.
The course ran from January 11th, 2021 through February 12th, 2021 (five weeks) for the students with online Zoom classes every Wednesday that lasted an hour and a half. I was able to share my experience as well as supply the students with informational resources for substance use. I was also given the great honor of grading student’s work, which was humbling to read their thoughts on the assignments. This is just one of the great opportunities for CHWs to share what they know, as well as, increase our own knowledge base. I even picked up some new information being in the class again. Thank you for this great opportunity to be a part of something wonderful, Amanda and the Minnesota CHW Alliance.
-Jeanne Holfield, CHW/PRS
Thank you Jeanne for sharing your story and for your dedication to the Alliance!
Alliance Registry Presentation at the Minnesota Public Health Association Annual Conference
On April 29th, Sydney Bernard, Registry Project Manager, and Adri Lobitz, Registry Manager, will present on the creation and implementation of the Alliance’s CHW Registry that that was launched this past fall.
The following is an overview of their presentation:
The Minnesota Community Health Worker (CHW) Alliance’s focus is to constantly seek equitable and optimal health outcomes for all communities. CHWs are still new to many Minnesota health and human services agencies and the field faces challenges related to awareness, recognition, and integration into team-based models. Stronger connections between CHWs, healthcare and public health systems, payers, policy-makers, community-based organizations, employers, and other allies are needed to sustain this workforce innovation and maximize its potential to help address Minnesota’s persistent health inequities and strive for more equitable healthcare access. In the Fall of 2018, exploration began by the Alliance into forming a state-wide CHW Registry in order to create a platform for CHWs and stakeholders to work towards the above focus areas. This presentation will go over the creation of the registry, lessons learned along the way, and leveraging such a tool to better advance the CHW field.
Click here to see the conference agenda and to register.
Scholarships are available to attend the conference.