2022 Speakers and Sessions

​Featured Session: Michael P. O’Donnell Special Plenary Session

Each year the Art & Science of Health Promotion Conference features a special plenary session named in honor of its founder, Dr. Michael P. O’Donnell. This session exemplifies excellence and demonstrates vision in advancing the field of health promotion. We are pleased to announce the 2022 Michael P. O'Donnell Special Plenary Session presented by Dr. Dexter Shurney.

​Lifestyle Medicine: A Health Disparities Solution

Richard Safeer
Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH
SVP/Chief Medical Officer, Adventist Health Wellbeing Division
President, Blue Zones Wellbeing Institute
View bio
COVID-19 has underscored the health disparities that exist among our Native American, Black, and Hispanic populations. The underlying chronic diseases that heightened vulnerability to SARS-CoV2 were lifestyle-related and directly impacted by social determinants of health (SDoH) –and thus disproportionately impacted low-income and historically underserved communities. Experts have argued that lifestyle modification is the most powerful and important medicine we have.
Lifestyle Medicine, as defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), is the use of evidence-based, lifestyle, therapeutic intervention—including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection—as a primary modality to prevent, treat, and often reverse disease.
This session will review the data supporting Lifestyle Medicine as a powerful solution to address health disparities, concluding with actionable steps and recommendations for achieving health equity through Lifestyle Medicine.

​How to Align Workplace Policies and Practices with Well-being

Judd Allen, PhD

Judd Allen, PhD
President, Human Resources Institute, LLC
View bio

Richard Safeer
Richard Safeer, MD, FACLM, FAAFP, FACPM
Chief Medical Director, Employee Health & Well-being, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Assistant Professor, General Internal Medicine; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University
View bio
This training is for executives, managers and members of wellness committees/task forces seeking to bring about sustained culture change within their organization. Many formal and informal policies and practices, also known as cultural touch points, influence well-being values and behavior. Reward, training, communication, modeling and traditions are examples of these cultural touch points. This training introduces 14 primary cultural touch points and recommends strategies for aligning them with culture change goals and overall well-being.

Wellness Platform Engagement Through the Lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Tyler Amell, PhD, MSc, BSc

Tyler Amell, PhD
Chief Health and Strategy Officer, MediKeeper
View bio

This session will provide data elements related to recent wellness platform access and engagement trends, changes in health risk, and sustainable behavior change programming. These data will then be explored through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), which are current themes employers and health plans are in the midst of addressing from a variety of perspectives to better serve their people and plan members. Further, they are typically part of a greater social shared value approach as employers look to enhance and promote positive cultures that are reflective of next generation values and attract and retain talented people during the ‘great resignation.’
Recent changes to categorizations of demographic data on a digital engagement platform used by a large number of US employers that now accommodates racial and gender identity permits a more wholistic view of platform engagement. Such changes will now allow health to be linked back to the important issues of diversity and inclusion, and this information will be used to better understand wellbeing programming on the wellness platform and value add. From the currently available research, it is understood that source of stress and contributing risk factors for ill-health and chronic disease are significant factors in the drive for equity in the workplace, as well as associated work disabilities. 
This session will incorporate current data on a large subset of a population to further discourse in the area, and promote next generation programming that is inclusive for all.

Emotions and Lifestyle Choices: Affective Coaching Skills for Wellness and Health Promotion Practitioners

Michael Arloski

Michael Arloski, PhD, PCC
CEO and Founder, Real Balance Global Wellness
View bio

Change always has an emotional component.  Lifestyle behavioral change is not simply a rational process.  Emotions influence, skew or sometimes completely determine the outcome of a large number of the lifestyle decisions we are confronted with every day.  Understanding and processing the way we feel about our health behaviors influences how we express those behaviors.  Anxiety and fear often affect emotional eating, avoidance of exercise, or seeking social support.  Feelings of stressful overwhelm, demoralization and discouragement, or guilt over engaging in self-care activities often derail the best wellness plans.   Discover how to help your clients address the role their emotions are playing in lifestyle improvement.  Success is often determined by how effective we are at helping our clients to become aware of, process and eliminate the affective barriers to their growth and wellbeing.  Engage in this largely experiential workshop to deepen your ability to work with emotions without crossing the line into therapy.

Beyond Mental Health: Promoting Psychological Well-Being in the Wake of the Pandemic

David Ballard, PsyD. MBA

David Ballard, PsyD, MBA
Independent Consultant
View bio

The pandemic changed the way people live and work. Topics including occupational health and safety, remote work, work-life conflict, psychological well-being, job insecurity, and vulnerable workers became a regular part of the public discourse. But these concerns are not new. They existed before the pandemic and they will still remain when we emerge from the current crisis. Forward thinking organizations are using this as an opportunity to go beyond being reactive and think strategically about how to do a better job of improving the well-being and functioning of their workers, organizations, and communities in the years ahead. This session will highlight several initiatives designed to broadly promote and support psychological well-being, including NIOSH’s National Occupational Research Agenda for Healthy Work Design and Well-Being, ISO’s new international standard on Psychological Health and Safety at Work, and a recently launched employer recognition program for workplace mental health.

Using a Complexity Framework and Team Science to Create Shared Value 

Alexandria Blacker, MPH

Alexandria Blacker, MPH
Wellness Manager, Stanford Health Care
View bio

Developing shared value initiatives is a complex process, requiring coordination and collaboration among a variety of health sectors. Oftentimes these sectors have disparate procedures, priorities, and cultures. To create initiatives that address today’s health challenges, we need to make sense of this complexity and integrate our knowledge, skills, and expertise. The Cynefin Framework can be used as a sensemaking tool for complex problems and team science principles can support collaboration efforts across teams. In this interactive session, participants will have the opportunity to apply the Cynefin Framework and team science principles to a current organizational challenge. An example from Stanford Health Care will be used to discuss how a social support program for COVID-19 positive employees was rapidly developed and implemented using the Cynefin Framework and team science. Participants will walk away with a complexity and team science toolkit that can be applied to future organizational initiatives.

NIOSH Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBQ) 

Chia-Chia Chang, MPH, MBA

Chia-Chia Chang, MPH, MBA
Public Health Analyst, NIOSH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
View bio

While there is much interest in worker well-being, there has been no consistent definition of the concept of worker well-being nor a measurement tool to assess it. To address this gap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the RAND Corporation conducted research to develop a conceptual framework and operationalize indicators for worker well-being. This session will summarize the initiative, which consisted of a literature review to develop a definition identifying five domains of worker well-being, followed by creation of the NIOSH Worker Well-Being Questionnaire (WellBeQ) in consultation with an expert panel, and pilot testing of the questionnaire. After analysis of the pilot test, the questionnaire was revised and released. The session will discuss the NIOSH WellBQ and how it can be used by employers, organizations, policymakers, and other stakeholders to build knowledge to better understand and improve worker well-being.

Allyship Training Program in Caring for the Health of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women: Beyond Rainbow Decals 

Julie Friedman, MPH

Julie Friedman, MPH
Director, Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Education & Research Center
View bio

Roberta (Bobbie) Emetu, PhD, MPH, MLS

Roberta (Bobbie) Emetu, PhD, MPH, MLS
Associate Professor of Public Health Education, California State University, Northridge Department of Health Sciences Public Health Program

The LA County Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women’s Health Collaborative (LBQWHC) was established in 2009 to address health disparities through research, advocacy, and education.  Members represent academic institutions, LGBTQ+ organizations, city government officials, and representatives of the county health department.

Program Components

The program is focused on how lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) supporters and healthcare professionals can address the systematic barriers, biases, assumptions, and judgements LBQ women encounter when accessing health care. The importance of delivering inclusive and culturally sensitive care in a welcoming environment is emphasized. Trainings are offered as continuing medical education for physicians, professional development staff trainings for other healthcare professionals, social workers, healthcare administrators, and staff from government agencies, and community-based agencies. The trainings are one-hour and are conducted by qualified professionals via Zoom.

Program Implementation and Evaluation History

The program is promoted through social media and a listserv of public health, social service, and community agencies. A training coordinator schedules Zoom presentation sessions with the LBQWHC trainers who update the training curriculum which is delivered via a PowerPoint presentation. Evaluations are conducted via SurveyMonkey and polls.  

Program Impact: Participation, Health and Financial Outcome

Training evaluation results demonstrate participants’ knowledge in LBQ health increased by approximately 30% and approximately 93% strongly agreed that the presentation increased their ability to provide inclusive care to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women. In 2020, a total of 15 trainings were conducted, reaching close to 300 individuals, and in 2021, a total of 7 trainings were conducted, reaching 291..

Unlocking Sustainable Behavior Change through Neuroscience

Raquel Garzon

Raquel Garzon, DHSc, RDN, CPT
President, Revitalize Project
View bio

Changing behaviors, even when they will result in positive outcomes, is difficult. As humans our inclination is to skip to the end and try to change a behavior we don’t like, but for sustainable behavior change to occur, the factors that impact a behavior in the brain need to be addressed. In business, we provide tools for people to do their jobs effectively, but overlook the strategies required for successful personal change from a neuroscience perspective. Whether a behavior change is in communication, leadership, wellness, safety, or diversity/inclusion, if the factors that influence behaviors in the brain do not change, all the information that exists will not create change.

This session will present the neuroscience of behavior change and how organizations can positively influence the factors that contribute to behaviors. Participants will be able to return to their organizations ready to implement strategies that will enable sustained change in employees.

Enrolling Business as a Vehicle for Public Health 

Dan Pasquini

Dan Pasquini
Director of Communications, Health Action Alliance, Meteorite
View bio

The pandemic has demonstrated the inextricable link between America’s public health infrastructure and its economy. COVID-19 has made apparent the importance of a healthy community and workforce is vital for economic prosperity. Enrolling the U.S. business community, from Fortune 100 corporations to small family-owned businesses, in public health priorities is vital for a healthy future for the United States. Without healthy and safe places to live, work, and play, there simply can be no pathway to economic or social prosperity.

Since February 2021, Health Action Alliance (HAA) has been working to unlock the power of business to help accelerate the COVID-19 response, advance health equity and rebuild public health. HAA has built a growing network of more than  1,600 businesses that are working to strengthen vaccine acceptance, advance health equity and rebuild public health within our companies and communities. We are informed by top experts in public health, communications and business management including the Ad Council, Business Roundtable, CDC Foundation, de Beaumont Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in partnership with 50 leading business and public health groups.

The private sector is one of the most trusted institutions for American workers and has been an engine of America’s COVID-19 vaccine response, resulting in more than 216 million Americans receiving at least one vaccine dose. Companies have a unique opportunity to help the nation recover from the pandemic and prepare for future crises by championing policies, practices, and institutions that advance health and safety. Through strategic action, businesses and public health institutions together, can secure a more stable economic and social future for communities and the country.

This presentation by the Health Action Alliance will provide session participants with a brief overview of HAA’s work over the past year, businesses case studies that demonstrate how all businesses, no matter the size, can implement successful and equitable vaccine and public health policies. 

Do Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs Work? What Does the Latest Research Tell Us?

Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD

Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD
Senior Scientist and Director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (IHPS), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
View bio

Dr. Ron Goetzel will address the rationale behind workplace health promotion (wellness) programs and their potential impact on employee health, medical spending, and productivity outcomes. He will highlight the “secret sauce” necessary to make workplace programs “work,” how to measure a return-on-investment (ROI) and new ways to quantify a value-on-investment (VOI). He will offer a measurement and evaluation framework useful to program managers who want to determine program success.

Dr. Goetzel will highlight recent findings from a RWJF supported study that examined the relationship between a company’s culture of health and employees’ health risks, medical spending, and stock price. He will also review his “top 10” list of best and promising practices revealed from a benchmarking project supported by the RWJF initiative entitled Promoting Healthy Workplace.

Addressing the Heart and Soul of Employee Well-being 

Jessica Grossmeier

Jessica Grossmeier, PhD, MPH
CEO, Jessica Grossmeier Consulting

Employee well-being has been deeply challenged, highlighting the opportunity for employers to embrace a holistic approach to workplace well-being. As employers step up their efforts to address workplace culture and double down on employee well-being in the fight for top talent, the time is now to invest in an approach that is grounded in science, steeped in thousands of years of ancient wisdom practices, and tested in leading organizations. This session integrates proven best practices from workplace well-being research with decades of management science research on workplace spirituality, synthesizing thought leadership and research into practical strategies that foster whole-person well-being of individuals, teams, and leaders, to drive business outcomes. Attendees will be able to summarize research linking workplace spirituality practices with worker health, productivity, and engagement; describe how to address spiritual well-being without endorsing any specific religious or wisdom tradition; and identify real world examples (corporate case studies) for benchmarking purposes.

Health Promoting Universities and the Okanagan Charter 

Suzy Harrington

Suzy Harrington, DNP, RN
Assistant Vice President Student Affairs - Health and Well-Being, University of Houston

Health Promoting Universities and the Okanagan Charter. You may have been hearing these words bantered about, especially if your University’s Student Affairs has an AVP for Health and Well-Being. That’s a good thing. We will touch upon the cultural shift identified within the Okanagan Charter : An international charter for health promoting universities & colleges, identify current frameworks, professional organizations and assessments that have been developing the last decade leading to this expanding concept of health promoting universities, and will share a framework visualizing the necessary complexity of an upstream, systems/settings approach that can be translated to other settings.

Resilience and Well-Being: COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Asian American, Pacific Islander and Other Communities 

Wenli Jen, EdD

Wenli Jen, EdD
CEO, Integral Prudence Solutions
View bio

COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendously negative impact on communities of color, particularly the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. From hate crimes to underrepresented voice and under-funded health programming, AAPI communities continue to be disregarded for their needs during the pandemic, due to the misconceptions created by the model minority myth. AAPI persons are a part of our communities in our work and school settings. In order to address how we can become better professionals in the field of wellness and health promotion, a discussion on the anti-Asian hate crimes and health promotion strategies for AAPI communities will unpack how to be an active participant in supporting and developing individual and community resilience.

Connecting Mental Health to an Organization's Hierarchy of Needs 

Rebecca Johnson, MS

Rebecca Johnson, MS
Chief Operations Officer, Vidl Solutions, Inc.
View bio


While mental and emotional wellbeing have finally come to the forefront as important issues for business leaders to consider, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about how organizations can best support their employees in these areas. Many well-intentioned organizational initiatives focus on programs and services for individuals which, while valuable, do not address the systemic issues present in the workplace itself that negatively impact mental and emotional wellbeing. Creating the conditions in which individuals can thrive requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both individuals and the systems in which they work. Taking a lesson from Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of needs, this session introduces the Thriving Organization Pyramid – an updated framework for understanding the factors that affect mental wellbeing in the workplace. You’ll leave this session with:

• greater clarity about the relationship between work and mental wellbeing
• eight specific points of focus to consider when assessing your organization’s approach to supporting mental and emotional wellbeing, and 
• practical, relevant strategies you can employ right away

Addressing School Employee Wellness During COVID-19 and Beyond 

Holly Hunt, MA

Holly Hunt, MA
Chief, Healthy Schools Branch, CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Jyotsna Blackwell, MPH

Jyotsna Blackwell, MPH
Project Officer, Healthy Schools Branch, CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the United States, and the COVID-19 pandemic placed additional pressure on teachers. CDC collected data to examine impacts of the pandemic on teachers; those with anxiety and depression were almost 2 times more likely to report desire to leave the profession more so today than before the pandemic. Supporting teachers’ wellbeing is a shared value between public health and education, as healthy teachers lead to healthier, productive students and school environments. CDC collaborated with National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and numerous educators to create the School Employee Wellness (SEW) Guide. The guide provides program needs assessment, implementation, and evaluation tools and includes examples of evidence-based programs with low investment for schools. This session will provide participants key data and evidence about teacher wellbeing, evidence-based SEW programs, hands-on experience with the guide, and time for discussion to learn from others.

Innovative Approaches to Identifying, Scaling and Spreading Public Health Programs:  Reimagining Hypertension Management in a Federally Qualified Health Center 

 
Rachel Simpson Davis, MPH
Rachel Simpson Davis, MPH
Senior Evaluator, Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
View bio
Aisha Tucker-Brown

Aisha Tucker-Brown,  PhD, MSW
Senior Evaluator, Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
View bio

Marla Vaughn

Moderator: Marla Vaughn, MPH
Team Lead, Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
View bio

The CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) builds practice-based evidence through identification and evaluation of promising practices in the field, and replication of successful programs in new settings. Kaiser Permanente of Colorado’s Hypertension Management Program (HMP) is a clinic-level program to improve patients’ high blood pressure. A 2012 evaluation found HMP effective at improving blood pressure control in a four-year period. DHDSP partnered with a Federally Qualified Health Center in rural South Carolina predominantly serving African American and disproportionately affected patients to scale and spread the HMP. Evaluation results showed hypertension control rates increased by 3% over 16 months, improving from 53.4% to 57.3% (p<0.01). This panel discussion provides a systematic approach and practice-based example for rapidly identifying, assessing, and disseminating effective programs to improve quality of care for patients bearing a disproportionate risk of hypertension.

Analytic Translators to the Rescue: Why Analytic Projects Fail in Business, and the New Profession that Will Save Us 

Wendy Lynch, PhD

Wendy Lynch, PhD
Founder, Lynch Consulting
View bio

Today a majority of analytic projects never produce business value --- not because they lack data, technology and analytic talent, but because analysts and business teams don’t speak the same language.  As a result, projects are often poorly defined, inadequately explained, and discarded as incomplete or confusing.  As more companies adopt Big Data analytic strategies to advance their business efforts, there is also a greater need for people who can understand and apply those analytic discoveries.  This session explores the reasons why analytic efforts fail and introduces Analytic Translation, a new role to bridge the gap between the promise of Big Data and the reality of defining and meeting essential business needs.  Content will include examples of effective project definition and relevant delivery of findings.

Nature Exposure as Part of Your Wellness Portfolio 

Jay Maddock

Jay Maddock, PhD, FAAHP
Co-Director, Center for Nature and Health
Professor, Texas A & M University 

Over the past decade, there has been mounting evidence for the effect of nature on health and wellbeing.  Time spent in greenspaces have significant positive effects on mental health and stress reduction.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people rediscovered nature as a way to cope with the stress of the lockdowns.  However, most Americans still spend very little time in nature.  In this session, we will explore the research evidence connecting health and nature.  Several studies conducted by the Center for Health & Nature will be examined including the effects of healing gardens, nature through virtual reality, nature exposure among remote workers and theoretical measurement development.  The session will conclude by examining programs to increase exposure to nature including ParkRX, Walk with a Doc and Campus Nature RX. 

From Shared Learning to Shared Value: Co-Creating Rapid Responses to Public Health Emergencies 

Sarah Matousek, PhD, MPH

Sarah Matousek, PhD, MPH
Principal, Day Health Strategies
View bio

Michael Curry, JD

Michael Curry, JD
CEO, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers

Susan Dargon-Hart, LICSW

Susan Dargon-Hart, LICSW
VP of Clinical Health Affairs, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. 

As we begin to settle into the “next normal,” what have we learned from COVID-19?

During the pandemic, Community Health Centers (CHCs), which represent a largely underserved patient population, were required to innovate as never before. These CHCs, which differ widely in their emergency response capabilities, rapidly deployed testing and vaccination efforts to close gaps in access for their communities served.

The Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers (MassLeague) seized this opportunity to learn from the experiences of CHCs that emerged as leaders in the COVID response efforts and help other CHCs learn from and apply best practices. The COVID-19 Vaccination Playbook: Best Practices for Community Health Centers was created through a multi-sector partnership and gathered shared learnings to support CHCs in executing effective vaccination efforts.

Learn how this partnership supported CHCs in their vaccination efforts and laid the framework for rapid response to future public health emergencies.

From Workplace to Retirement: Role of Community in a Changing World 

Steven Noeldner, PhD

Steven Noeldner, PhD
Senior Consultant, Mercer
View bio

Bernie Knobbe

Bernie Knobbe, CEBS, CCP
Head of Global Benefits, Corporate/Total Rewards, AECOM
View bio

Kristin Parker, PhD, MPH

Kristin Parker, PhD, MPH
Partner, Total Health Management Specialty Practice Leader, Mercer
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Sandi Stein

Sandi Stein
Global Head of Benefits, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 

View bio

Charlotte Yeh, MD

Charlotte Yeh, MD
Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc
View bio

Our world has changed dramatically in the last two years, influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice, and other natural and man-made occurrences.  Why and how we interact with others at work and in the community, have new meaning and purpose.  Enlightened organizations recognize they have a symbiotic relationship with the communities in which they exist and that there are many definitions of “community”. These communities go beyond the workplace and geographic definitions to include virtual and other communities comprised of those with shared value, purpose, interests and goals. The interdependencies between organizations and communities have been magnified as the world rises to the challenges of today and the future. The resources and relationships – often virtual –that contribute to the quality of life, and the personal and social determinants that influence the health and well-being of employees and their families, as well as worker and business performance, are greatly dependent on their communities. Communities provide the environment in which future, current and retired employees live, engage and learn, thus influencing their current and future ability to thrive.

Wellness Privilege at Work: What Is It and What Can We Do About It? 

Laura Putnam, MA

Laura Putnam, MA
CEO & Founder, Motion Infusion
View bio

Privilege plays a role not only in achieving the American Dream, but also in achieving optimal health and well-being. Meanwhile, in the world of health and wellness, the “Take personal responsibility for your health and well-being” mantra continues to prevail – and the role that privilege plays continues to be underestimated. This session awakens attendees to the need to redirect workplace wellness and well-being initiatives so that they better address the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) needs of their workforce. More specifically, this session spells out the need to tackle Wellness Privilege at Work, which is an unearned benefit or advantage enjoyed by some individuals or groups that makes the pursuit of well-being easier. In this session, we’ll unpack Wellness Privilege at Work, how it manifests, how it connects with striving for shared value, and what every organization, team and individual can do to make a difference.

Building a Better Brain: The Emerging Science and Practice of Promoting Brain Health In Daily Life 

John Randolph, PhD

John Randolph, PhD
Board Certified Clinical Neuropsychologist, Randolph Neuropsychology Associates, PLLC
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth 
Brain Health Consultant/Executive Coach, J. Randolph Consulting, LLC, dba Engaged Brain
View bio

An increasing focus of health promotion perspectives and activities is on brain health.  Given the critical importance of effective brain functioning on decision-making and other cognitive skills related to general wellness, brain health is “the elephant in the room” regarding health promotion.  This presentation will discuss health promotion in the context of the brain by considering the emerging science and application of four key brain health domain areas: Cognitive strategies that enhance the learning process, improve time management, and lead to better task focus; Activity engagement (e.g., social and physical activity) known to have robust cognitive and physiological benefits for the brain; Prevention of cognitive problems through dietary and other lifestyle choices; and Education about how the brain works.  Participants will engage in related exercises and small group work to enhance learning and takeaways.

Those Nerdy Girls: Science Communication on Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

Ashley Ritter, PhD, APRN

Ashley Ritter, PhD, APRN
CEO and Founding Member, Dear Pandemic 

Those Nerdy Girls, a multidisciplinary team of female scientists and clinicians, blends science and empathy to deliver practical and factual information on health topics via social media. The operation started as a crisis communication campaign in March of 2020 called “Dear Pandemic” and focuses primarily on COVID-19. This model of engagement is well positioned to combat persistent threats of misinformation by providing people with timely, actionable, and trustworthy information. 

The program excels in the following components: 1) A multidisciplinary team including researchers and clinicians with expertise including nursing, mental health, demography, health policy, economics, and epidemiology; 2) Plain language and vetted content available in public forums; and 3) Content development driven by community engagement. Content focuses on practical advice for daily living, breaking news, and information hygiene skills.
We have written over 1,500 short essays in plain language and have over 200,000 followers across our platforms to date. Those Nerdy Girls have contributed to hundreds of media pieces, further extending content reach. The content will be included in the National Library of Congress collection on the COVID-19 pandemic. Those Nerdy Girls provide a model of science communication rooted in the importance of trust and transparency.


You're Already There: From Making It Work to Feeding Your Soul 

Marie-Josee Shaar

Marie-Josee Shaar, MAPP
Wellness and Motivational Speaker, Smarts and Stamina

The unprecedented changes in the workplace in the last two years have shown us that it's possible to feel lost...even while working from home. The pandemic forced us to navigate new systems and work cultures, all while balancing the mental and physical health of our kids, family, and colleagues. It's been tough, and, ironically, disorienting. Finding new pragmatic approaches to an evolving workplace (that sometimes includes your own backyard!) is essential for restoring us to our personal optimal zone, perhaps for the first time. You're Already There empowers you to reimagine your work in ways that develop quality connections and core competencies, challenges you to discover meaning in hidden places, and then shows you how to scale these positive psychology innovations at the organizational level.

A New Dimension in Social Determinants of Health

Tralonda Triplett, PhD, MPH

Tralonda Triplett, PhD, MPH
Senior Vice President, Director of Public Health, Center for Policing Equity

Contemporary efforts in public health interventions have followed Epidemiologic Triad directives and included individual behaviors and socio-environmental factors as sources of population-level health risks.  Additional guidance such as the Bronfrenbrenner Ecological Model has detailed socio-environmental factors that contribute to health risks for communities.  Historically, social determinants of health have included conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health outcomes.  However, this topic presentation will introduce public safety as an essential contributor to these conditions that is rarely included in this definition, public health research, or program design.  Historical and contemporary primary and secondary traumas experienced due to race at the hands of police are without question influencing the health of Black and other vulnerable populations. It is imperative that health promotion integrates its efforts to empower communities to redesign public safety to enhance public health and equity for all communities.

Virtual - Leveraging Opportunities for a New Future

Julia Vallance, BScN, RN

Julia Vallance, BScN, RN
Program Manager, Red Deer Primary Care Network

Organization (or Community) Description:
40 Primary Care Networks consisting of 3800 family physicians and 1000 health care providers and serves close to 3.6M Albertans. 

Program Components:
Alberta branded Anxiety to Calm, Health Basics, Happiness Basics, Relationships in Motion, Journey through Grief and Moving on with Persistent Pain. All adult focused workshops are evidence based using current theoretical models. They are designed to protect and promote psychosocial well-being and resilience and engage participants in general healthy living. The programs motivate participants to make lasting lifestyle improvements through mindset and use of skills learned.  

Program Implementation and Evaluation History:
In March 2020, 37 organizations across the province had been trained to offer one or more workshop over the past 10 years.  Workshop evaluation demonstrates their ability to prevent mental and behavioral health issues, as well as enhance participants’ abilities to adapt to stresses and adverse impacts.  For example, the 8-week Anxiety to Calm program shows a 50% reduction in anxiety.  

Program Impact: 
Virtual delivery has met increased mental health needs due to Covid.  We are using a variety of strategies to increase access across the province. They include sharing participants and facilitators between organizations, using one provincial registration site, offering 4 versus 8 week workshops, training 170 more facilitators, increasing evaluation and marketing collaboration, increasing partnerships by 68 %, and proactively engaging younger populations through offerings at post-secondary institutions and development of a youth workshop.

Conquering Arthritis Pain, One Step at a Time:  Working Across Sectors to Address Joint Pain and Increase Physical Activity Levels Among those with Arthritis 

Serena Weisner, MS

Serena Weisner, MS
Director of Community Programs, Osteoarthritis Action Alliance

Nadia Mazza, MPH

Nadia Mazza, MPH
Project Manager and Research Assistant, NC Center for Health and Wellness at UNCA
Adjunct Professor of Public Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Nick Turkas, MS

Nick Turkas, MS
Director, External Affairs, Arthritis Foundation, National Office

  • An estimated 58.5 million US adults have arthritis (which encompasses over 100 conditions).
  • 1 in 10 adults are limited in their everyday activities due to arthritis.
  • Arthritis is common among people with other chronic conditions including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
This interactive panel presentation provides a comprehensive review of resources proven to reduce pain and improve health and wellbeing. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the need to social distance many programs have “gone virtual.”  As such, the Arthritis Foundation’s evidence-based Walk With Ease program has been adapted to maximize reach and participation with an enhanced self-directed toolkit and an online registration and engagement portal. We’ll explore these resources and share proven practices that will help you adopt a proven, safe, and effective walking and behavior change program that can be implemented in a variety of settings and for diverse audiences.
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