ASTHO Executive Director Share: Week of July 31, 2017

By Melissa Lewis posted 08-09-2017 06:25 PM

Week of July 31, 2017


The Week in Review

  • Preparing for the Annual Meeting
  • Policy Summit Roundtables
  • Special Anniversary Supplement: ASTHO at 75
  • Visit to D.C. Department of Health
  • Call with Georgia’s New State Health Officer
  • Region IX Listening Session
  • Region X Teleconference
  • Executive Committee Teleconference
  • ASTHO Executive Management Team Meeting
  • ASTHO Participates in National Homeland Security Consortium Meeting
  • ASTHO Participates in CDC Preparedness Program Listening Session
  • ASTHO Leadership Institute Kick-Off Meeting
  • ASTHO Signs on to Letter to Congress on Safety Net Priorities
  • Tracking HHS Confirmations
  • ASTHO Memo on FDA’s Tobacco Regulation
  • Deskside Briefer on State Emergency Declarations for Opioids
  • ASTHO Initiative on Early Brain Development
  • ASTHO Briefing with CDC Injury Center Policy Leads
  • ASTHO Staff Meeting
  • Staff Kudos
  • The Week Ahead


Preparing for the Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting, Policy Summit, and Gala preparations were in full swing this week. If you have not yet registered for the conference, please check out the agenda and register online here. It is going to be a great event and we are looking forward to seeing everyone in Washington, D.C. next month. In addition to conference preparations, below are a few other highlights from ASTHO.


Policy Summit Roundtables

On Tuesday, Sept. 19, we will host a new Leader to Leader Executive Roundtable event at our Policy Summit. At this event, federal agency representatives and ASTHO members, affiliates, staff, and partners, will have the chance to meet partners for a discussion of federal and state priorities, new programmatic directions, discussion over state needs and challenges, and generally share on an informal basis any relevant information for state leaders. The session will also give federal agency participants a chance to meet each other and share cross-agency work and priorities. Invitations went out on Thursday and we hope to have a solid list of RSVPs for the event. Over 60 federal partners were invited, although we expect fewer will participate, representing most of the HHS operating divisions that engage with state and territorial public health agencies, the EPA, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, and several others. Roundtable topics include cross-cutting discussion items that will engage S/THOs and other attendees in different conversations over two different discussion periods.


Special Anniversary Supplement: ASTHO at 75

The Journal of Public Health Management released a special supplement featuring a number of articles related to ASTHO’s past, present, and future! Because the issue was sponsored by de Beaumont Foundation funding, the articles are available free from the JPHMP website. Check out the current edition by clicking here.


Visit to D.C. Department of Health

On Thursday, I traveled across the river to meet with LaQuandra Nesbitt, health officer for the District of Columbia. We discussed her agency’s work in many areas. She is leading an internal organizational culture change effort as well as an external health improvement effort in her agency. I was extremely impressed with all she has done in Washington, D.C.! We identified several model practices and resources to share with other members.


Call with Georgia’s New State Health Officer

On Friday, I had an introductory call with Pat O’Neal, who was newly appointed to the role of state health officer in Georgia. Pat is no stranger to ASTHO having served as interim health officer in prior years, and being very active in ASTHO as Georgia’s preparedness director. It was a great call and a nice chance to catch up with a longtime ASTHO leader.


Region IX Listening Session

On Monday, we convened the states in Region IX for an ASTHO update and overview. Thanks to all the SHOs who participated in the call. We shared briefings on advocacy, program updates, and plans for the annual meeting. SHOs shared priorities for their agencies which included a number of key ASTHO wide priorities as well including opioids and chronic disease prevention. Many thanks to Karl Ensign, regional executive liaison for the region, for putting the call together.


Region X Teleconference

On Friday, regional director Elke Shaw-Tullock (SHO-ID) convened the Region X SHOs. I attended as regional executive liaison for the region. We discussed the upcoming conference, plans for a site visit to a safe injection site in Vancouver, British Columbia, and other state priorities.


Executive Committee Teleconference

The ASTHO Executive Committee will meet on Wednesday evening for its regular bi-weekly conference call. Agenda items include finalizing the September board meeting agenda, updates on the conference and gala, and plans for the virtual Board meeting on Aug. 23.


ASTHO Executive Management Team Meeting

The ASTHO EMT will meet on Thursday morning. Agenda items include a discussion of team “open houses” this fall to share information on team activities with all staff, discussion of the recent telework training, planning for the Annual Conference and Policy Summit, and a discussion of discussions around capacity building work and cross-cutting ASTHO staffing support for programs.


ASTHO Participates in National Homeland Security Consortium Meeting

On Tuesday, ASTHO staff participated in the National Homeland Security Consortium meeting in Washington, D.C. The consortium is a member organization of over 20 associations responsible for multiple sectors of homeland security. Presentations included updates from the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the White House National Security Council, FEMA Administrator Brock Long and OMB staff responsible for homeland security appropriations. The Consortium also discussed action items for their priorities of Opioids and Cyber security. For more information, contact Jim Blumenstock, chief of health security programs (


ASTHO Participates in CDC Preparedness Program Listening Session

On Thursday, ASTHO staff members Jim Blumenstock and Gerrit Bakker participated in a listening session with the CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Director Stephen Redd and his staff, and other association partners at the CDC-Washington office. The discussion included presentations from each of the associations on the potential impact to their members of the president’s proposed budget and focused on possible changes to risk formula calculations.


ASTHO Leadership Institute Kick-Off Meeting

On Wednesday and Thursday, ASTHO hosted representatives from the Center for Creative Leadership and the Indiana University Fairbanks School of Public Health at our offices to begin discussions about our inaugural leadership institute class. The group discussed plans for the 18-month project period including opportunities for S/THO leadership development across the year both in-person and virtually. It was a great meeting with a robust plan for the next twelve months moving forward. Our first cohort of “new” S/THOs was sent invitations to participate in the new program last week. We look forward to engaging as many new S/THOs as possible in the institute. For more information, please contact Sharon Moffat ( or Melissa Ferguson (


ASTHO Signs on to Letter to Congress on Safety Net Priorities

ASTHO signed on to a multi-organization letter in in support of safety net programs last week. The letter urged Congress to support the extension of expiring safety net priorities including CHC funding, CHIP, DSH cut prevention, MIECHV, and the National Health Service Corps.


Tracking HHS Confirmations

ASTHO is pleased to see that Jerome Adams was confirmed as the next U.S. Surgeon General by voice vote in the Senate last week. Brett Giroir, nominee for Assistant Secretary of Health, was approved by the Senate HELP Committee, but did not receive a voice vote in the Senate; we will continue to track this issue in the weeks ahead.


ASTHO Memo on FDA’s Tobacco Regulation

Last week, several ASTHO team members worked on a memorandum that outlined the FDA announcement on a “new comprehensive plan which places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts.” In short, ASTHO believes the announcement represents a significant shift in FDA’s regulatory approach to combustible and non-combustible tobacco products alike. Commissioner Gottlieb sees these FDA actions as promoting a vision in which cigarettes are less addictive, and less harmful forms of nicotine are available to adults who would like to use them. To read ASTHO’s memo on this policy, which includes opportunities for state input and background, click here.


Deskside Briefer on State Emergency Declarations for Opioids

Last week, our advocacy and public relations team prepared a deskside briefing for members of the press on state emergency declarations related to the opioid crisis. Jim Blumenstock shared perspectives on federal regulations related to emergency declarations, and ASTHO members Rahul Gupta (SHO-WV), Cara Christ (SHO-AZ), Jay Butler (SHO-AK), and Marissa Levine (SHO-VA) shared their state experiences. The media call was in response to the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommendation to declare a national emergency and state responses to the opioid epidemic. Participation of media on the briefer included reporters from NBC news, Kaiser Health News, AP, and STAT News. An article by the Guardian included some of Jay Butler’s remarks, click here for that story. If you would like to read the President’s Commission report, click here. A New York Times story on the report included a quotation from yours truly, you can read that by clicking here.


ASTHO Initiative on Early Brain Development

On Wednesday, ASTHO met via teleconference with leadership of HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) to discuss a new focused effort on early childhood development and the role of S/THOs in leading early childhood systems within their states and territories. The discussion was very positive and we had great interest in the initiative from MCHB.


ASTHO Briefing with CDC Injury Center Policy Leads

On Thursday, I participated in a briefing call with leads from CDC’s National Center on Injury Prevention. The call was a chance to learn more about the center’s two priority areas: opioid and overdose prevention and suicide. There was lots to share as the center recently released new grants to states for opioid prevention activities. ASTHO enjoys a strong partnership with the center and I look forward to continued work with our CDC colleagues on behalf of ASTHO members.


ASTHO Staff Meeting

Our August staff meeting took place last week. I was thrilled to be recognized with a one-year anniversary celebration – including wonderful comments about the last year and a great and delicious assortment of cupcakes! Thank you all for a great year. In addition to the surprise, we also discussed ASTHO’s strategic planning timeline, plans for the annual meeting and related events, and heard from a consultant working to help improve ASTHO’s position descriptions and compensation ranges.


Staff Kudos

This week, I would like to share my thanks with you all – the ASTHO team! It has been a great year together and I appreciated the staff surprise event very much. Thank you for your support and engagement and all your feedback on how to make ASTHO even better!

In addition, thanks to KT Kramer who helped with an urgent member request for information on medical marijuana and state laws regarding reciprocity. She turned the request around quickly and met our member’s need for information.


The Week Ahead


Monday, Aug. 7 – Telework training (ASTHO); and national survey of public opinion on health departments discussion with de Beaumont Foundation (ASTHO).


Tuesday, Aug. 8 – Public health leaders roundtable dinner (Washington, D.C.); and internal meetings.


Wednesday, Aug. 9 – ASTHO Executive Committee Teleconference (5 p.m. EDT); internal meetings; and travel to Michigan for visit with the Kellogg Foundation.


Thursday, Aug. 10 – Visit with the Kellogg Foundation (Battle Creek, MI); and ASTHO EMT meeting (participate via video).


Friday, Aug. 11 – Kellogg Foundation meeting; and travel to Toronto for ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Annual Meeting.


Saturday, Aug. 12 through Tuesday, Aug. 15 – Participate in ASAE Annual Meeting.; and travel to Denver for Region VIII HHS opioid conference.


Wednesday, August 16 – Present at the Region VIII HHS opioid conference, and host State Health Officers Luncheon meeting.


Thursday, August 17 – Travel back to Washington, D.C.


Friday, August 18 – Annual Leave.


Please note: Due to travel and vacation schedules, the next Executive Director Share will be published on Aug. 28 and will highlight activities over the next two weeks. Thank you!


I always appreciate constructive feedback – please contact me if you have something to share or if you have feedback on ASTHO’s performance over the last week!

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