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December 17, 2013

Local health official graduates from national public health improvement program

CHEROKEE COUNTY — Cherokee County Public Health Executive Director Christopher Taylor, along with more than 100 other new and aspiring public health officials from across the nation, graduated Dec. 12 from the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ (NACCHO) Survive and Thrive: Roadmap for New Local Health Officials program.

The program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the de Beaumont Foundation, is designed to enhance the skills of top executives at local health departments. Participants in the 12-month program gained practical tools and experiences to help them work with elected officials and community partners, manage strategic planning and health department resources, and discover approaches for addressing challenges unique to local health department leaders.

“This was a very unique opportunity for me,” Taylor said. “To have been selected alongside some of the most influential public health officials from around the country, and to represent Cherokee County on a national stage – it was very rewarding. Health law and policy change so rapidly, that just keeping up can be a monumental task. To be able to learn from senior public health officials is incredible and to be able to bring that back to our community is invaluable.”

NACCHO Executive Director Robert M. Pestronk said program directors “are proud to have the opportunity to train public health leaders through Survive and Thrive.

“The Affordable Care Act and other factors are making our country’s health climate increasingly complex and competitive.  That’s why it is even more important that dedicated public health leaders have the insights and tools they need to grow, flourish, and adapt with the times,” he said.

Since 2008, nearly 190 new and aspiring local health officials have been trained through the Survive and Thrive program. Current and retired local health officials with five or more years of experience  serve as Survive and Thrive coaches.

These volunteer coaches complement the formal Survive and Thrive curriculum by guiding individual development plans, leading discussions about issues important to the program fellows, and reviewing assessments and performance reports.

“NACCHO is at the forefront of public health improvement and provides local health departments with the tools and resources they need to succeed. Because of this opportunity, I am more prepared to tackle some of the unique challenges that face our rural East Texas population. One of the best tools, is to have a head start on what works and what doesn’t, rather than playing ‘wait and see,” Taylor said..

Cherokee County Public Health has served the citizens of Cherokee County for more than forty years. Federal, state and local dollars go to work everyday, working with youth to prevent obesity, teen pregnancy and tobacco use, working with businesses and elected officials to plan and prepare for disaster, immunizing the community against crippling diseases, providing clinical care for local citizens with limited resources, investigating and preventing disease outbreaks, keeping our food supply safe and educating the public on the role we all play in the health of our families and our community.

“We exist for the sole purpose of preventing, promoting, and protecting the health of our citizens,” says Taylor, “and we are very proud to be able to do that each and every day,” he adds.

NACCHO represents the nation's 2,800 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities.

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