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