Community Health Worker - Archived Newsletters
Section Newsletter
Spring 2004

Message from the Chair

May 2004

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to the current issue of our newsletter. I bring you greetings from the CHW SPIG and from Massachusetts!

During the last few months CHWs from across the country have continued to organize and progress. We have held meetings and discussion groups during conferences (including the Center for Sustainable Health Unity conference in March), during CHW network and association meetings and via every other communication media. 2004 is shaping up to be a year of unprecedented milestones for the CHW workforce and movement. We must continue to unify and organize in order to position ourselves to lead the movement to define, credential/certify and regulate CHWs. This presents many challenges, but also just as many opportunities.

As we face the challenges ahead of us, many of us feel it is time for a CHW-led national CHW association that is truly inclusive, to be our beacon and assist in guiding the way. We need all allies and partners to support CHW growth and development by fostering an environment focused on lifting CHWs up. More and more CHWs from every state should become key decision makers and the leaders in CHW training, career development, advocacy, policy and credentialing efforts. We need to continue to write abstracts to present at local and national conferences and also become primary authors on CHW related articles to submit for publishing. CHWs across this country need to become the leaders in all CHW certification discussions, and, in at least two states, recently enacted CHW certification legislation. CHWs also need to explore how we can develop a CHW definition that is nationally recognized.

The CHW workforce continues to hone our health care and human services advocacy and policy development skills. This goes side by side, in priority order, with the development of a national CHW definition. Creating strong city, state, regional and a national CHW led networks/associations will help us sustain our efforts and the workforce. CHWs should research information on Medicaid waivers and other opportunities to identify the services we provide as essential and reimbursable. We also must work with CBOs, HMOs, hospitals and health centers for ways to sustain funding resources for CHWs.

The CHW SPIG Program Planning committee has been working on finalizing the 2004 Annual Meeting program, which will feature more CHW presentations than ever before. Keep a lookout for our next newsletter, which will detail the sessions including poster, oral and round table workshops. We continue to recruit more CHWs to join our leadership ranks and welcome all CHWs, supervisors, allies and partners to join the SPIG.

APHA Annual Meeting 2004 - Mark Your Calendar for D.C.!

Watch out, Washington, D.C. -- here we come! The Community Health Worker Special Primary Interest Group invites YOU to join us in Washington D.C. from Nov. 6-10 for a wonderful program that will explore the vital role of Community Health Workers in public health. We have received many abstracts that present and share the accomplishments and challenges of CHWs. The CHW SPIG gives special consideration to including papers presented or co-presented by CHWs.

At last year’s meeting in San Francisco, our full three-day program drew hundreds of participants to dynamic sessions where the presence of frontline workers as presenters was greater than ever and participants heard from a range of diverse programs across the United States and internationally. Skill-building workshops in popular education and program evaluation drew an enthusiastic response, and a town hall meeting provided a forum for a regional exchange of information and ideas.

Building on the success of the 2003 meeting, the CHW SPIG is committed to creating a program for 2004 that is even more meaningful to CHWs and their advocates. We will especially feature papers that will allow CHWs themselves to share their experiences and inform audiences about the impact of CHWs in their own voice. So please start planning now to join us in creating a dynamic, relevant program for APHA Washington, D.C.!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the following CHW SPIG members:

Elena Schwolsky, Program Planner 2004-5
Hunter College, New York City
(212) 481-5193

Tori Booker, Program Planner 2002-3
Migrant Health Promotion, Michigan
(734) 944-0244

Susan Johnson, CHW SPIG secretary
Center for Sustainable Health Outreach, Mississippi
(601) 266-6266

E-ssentialLearning: Expanded Access to Annual Meeting Sessions

APHA is expanding the educational experience of both presenters and attendees at the APHA Annual Meeting by investing in LCD projectors, computers and new Web-based technology for all scientific sessions. This new technology will enable voice and PowerPoint presentations to be recorded and uploaded to the APHA Web site following the meeting, thus extending the life of the meeting and providing access to hundreds of actual scientific session presentations that Annual Meeting registrants may have missed while attending other sessions.

Annual Meeting attendees can receive full access to these expanded sessions by registering for E-ssential Learning on the Annual Meeting registration form. Special introductory discounted fees are $25 for Annual Meeting session presenters, $50 for APHA members (who are not session presenters), and $100 for non-members and are in effect for anyone registering for the full APHA Annual Meeting by the Oct. 1 pre-registration deadline. These fees will increase substantially for anyone registering on-site at the Annual Meeting in Washington.

Log-in information and password access to these E-ssential Learning sessions will be provided to registrants immediately following the Annual Meeting.

NEW! Presenters Able to Upload PowerPoint Presentations in Advance

LCD projectors and computers are now included as part of the standard audiovisual package in each session room. This new technology will enable presenters to upload their PowerPoint presentations in advance of the meeting and have them pre-loaded on the APHA session computers. Individual presentations then begin with a click of the mouse. The cost and inconvenience of bringing a computer to the Annual Meeting has been eliminated for presenters, allowing them to take advantage of new technologies and be a part of the E-ssential Learning experience.

A Common Bond: Reflections of Unity 2004

It was called “2004 Unity Conference,” but it was reminiscent of a family reunion.

It was my first nationwide Community Health Worker’s conference, and as I waited to board Flight # 5321, I wondered how it would be to co-exist, for the next two and one-half days with almost 300 total strangers. (Make that 296 total strangers. I knew four CHWs from my home state of Massachusetts who would be attending the conference. One of which was my daughter with whom I would share the podium for a workshop session).

Upon my arrival at the conference hotel, I had been standing in the registration line all of five minutes when my apprehensions quickly disappeared. I found myself chatting with not only the person in front of me, but the person behind me as well. We were carrying on a three-way conversation. Before I went to my room, I found myself amidst smiling faces who were either being introduced to me, or had taken the liberty of introducing themselves. Hugs were exchanged, CHWs were saying where they were from and what there programs were about. Old acquaintances were being renewed, and the newcomers, such as myself, were warmly welcomed into the fold. It was wonderful!

I find it very difficult to express the emotions that ran through me over the next two and one-half days. To say that it was an intense experience would be putting it mildly. Before Unity 2004, I understood the tremendous undertakings of Community Health Workers on a statewide level. Now I was hearing CHWs' voices, from across the nation, singing the same tune and marching in step to the same drummer’s beat. I heard those voices although from different disciplines, expressing the same concerns for the communities that they serve that we have for the communities that we serve locally. But despite those many very different disciplines - we all came with the exact same goal, the very same target, and an undying, unified determination - to identify the communities’ needs, to meet those needs, and to deliver the same end result - a whole and healthy community.

What can I say about the workshop sessions? I wish I could have attended them all, but they were run concurrently. The sessions that I did attend were not only inspirational and uplifting; the information shared opened that window which allowed those of us attending the session to see into the everyday world of our brother and sister CHWs across the nation. Through these workshops I truly realized that CHWs, no matter where we are physically located, are all joined at the hip by the determination to get the job done.

There is a certain, non-duplicable, contagious energy, enthusiasm, and love that community health workers exude. I’ve made a feeble attempt at giving some adjectives to the feeling that I experienced. I don’t believe that there is a word as yet in the dictionary that truly describes this CHW nectar running through our veins. I can only say that that is similar to a booster shot in the arm that helps one to face the budget cuts virus that affects our sorely needed programs.

I cannot close without saying this: What touched me most was the realization that there is no pecking order in the world of community health workers. The experienced CHWs reach out for the hands of the newcomers and willingly share their knowledge, which enables all of us to grow and be strong. This kind of unity makes us powerful. And we can bring that power to the communities that we serve.

I truly believe that if the word love could ever be redefined, love would then be under C for Community Health Worker.

What impressed me most about Unity 2004 Conference? I came, I learned, I felt the love!

Esther M. Holderby, CHW
Breast Cancer Educator
Member, Assachusets Community Health Worker Network and Massachusetts Public Health Association

(Unity 2004 was held March 24-26, 2004, at the Grand Casino Oasis Resort and Spa in Gulfport, Miss. The theme was “Community Health Workers: Changing Health Care Delivery.” This is the unique perspective of a Massachusetts community health worker.)

Calling All CHWs

As some may recall, a few months ago a call went out to CHWs to consider joining the Policy Committee. Few CHWs answered the call. The Policy Committee, however, is up and running. We have dedicated members and concrete tasks to complete over the next few months. One task the committee is working on is the drafting of a CHW definition that can be used by CHWs and Promotores (as) alike across the nation.

The Policy Committee is committed to ensuring that CHWs take the lead in drafting the definition, with the support of our allies and partners. There is one problem -- currently the committee consists of a majority of non-CHWs. The Policy Committee is asking that additional CHWs consider joining in this important work. If you are unable to commit to joining the committee yourself, please consider supporting a fellow CHW to participate.

We often voice our concern that non-CHWs are making decisions that affect us. This is an opportunity to take control of our own destiny. There are active CHW networks and associations across the nation. Each organization has an obligation to the field to become involved in policy affecting CHWs. In order to assure that the committee has CHW representation from across the nation, we are asking that each CHW organization consider designating a CHW to participate. This is not a huge time commitment. Currently the committee meets monthly through conference calls.

There are many organizations across the nation attempting to define CHW for their own benefit. The final definition should be driven by a national body of CHWs/Promotores(as). The SPIG offers an opportunity for CHWs/Promotores(as) nationally to be proactive. The time to act is now, before additional policy affecting CHWs or a CHW definition are drafted without CHW participation. It is crucial that CHWs drive the CHW definition.

In addition to a CHW definition, the Policy Committee will be looking at resolutions and policy statements for SPIG support during the November APHA Annual Meeting. For additional information or to join the Policy Committee, contact the Chair, Lisa Renee Siciliano at

CHW Network Corner

Through networks, CHWs create opportunities to meet each other, to share resources and strategies, to build skills, and to receive training. Networks are forums for CHWs to identify job issues such as recognition within the larger public health and health care communities, public understanding of CHWs, and professional development and career ladders. A network can be a voice for CHWs in advocating for policies that promote and sustain CHWs and improve the health of our communities.

You will find information below about some of the national, state and local CHW networks, with contact information. In each issue we will highlight one or more of the networks. If you know of other networks not listed here, please contact the newsletter editor, Gail Ballester, at, or (617) 624-6016.

National Networks: The Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network

The Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network, 501©3, was born in 1998 after several years of planning and through the dedication of individuals and organizations committed to building an organization made for and by Lay Health Workers in the country. The organizations that dedicated their time and effort were: Western Arizona AHEC in Yuma, Arizona; New Mexico Community Health Workers Association (a statewide organization), Albuquerque, New Mexico; PRO.ME.SA. Coalition Chicago, Illinois; Community Health Education Center (CHEC) Boston, Massachusetts; the Tenants Support Committee Community Health Promoter Program, Alexandria, Virginia; and the Center for Hispanic Policy and Advocacy Community Health Promoter Program, Providence, Rhode Island. In 1999 the bylaws that govern the membership were developed, and in the year 2002 the Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network, Inc. was incorporated as a non-for-profit organization under the 501©3 status.

The Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network, 501©3, is a membership organization made up of community health workers and the organizations that they direct, and/or the organizations where they work. It was founded with a national Board of Directors, and a national Advisory Council. Both groups are composed of individuals who were instrumental in the planning process of the network.

The Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network, Inc. has two goals:
  • To empower Lay Health Workers in local communities across the country by encouraging local and regional networks.
  • To establish communication among different organizations already in existence, and to grow in visibility on the nation scene to be able to have an impact in private and public institutions to improve the health and quality of life of local communities.
The Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network has six regional offices in different states in the country. In every regional office, there is a Lay Health Worker willing to assist Lay Health Worker projects in their region by promoting communication and organizing local and state-wide networks to come together and learn from one another.

For the past six years, the Lay Health Workers/Promotores National Network, along with Western Arizona Area Health Education Center Inc., has been organizing the Annual National Community Health Workers/Promotores Conference. The Conference has been a wonderful and successful opportunity to network with other Lay Health Workers/Promotores programs.

The Board of Directors invites you to attend the 2004, 7th Annual National Conference “Promoting a Nationwide Campaign for Physical Activity and Good Nutrition for Healthy America” on August 17-20, in Denver, Colorado. See you there!

For more information on the National Network or the National Conference, please call our toll free number (877) 743-1500 or send an e-mail to

State and Regional Networks

Arizona Community Health Outreach Workers Network (AzCHOW), Of, By, and For Community Health Outreach Workers;
Lours Fernandez, Co-Chair; Flor Redondo, Co-Chair; Belen Feather, Secretary

The Community Health Worker/Promotoras Network, Maria Lemus, Executive Director, Vision Y Compromiso, 2536 Edwards Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530; (510) 232-7869; fax: (510) 231-9954; e-mail:, or Maria at:

Community Health Worker Training Program, Hawai'i Primary Care Association, Napualani Spock, Coordinator, P.O. Box 264, Pu'unene, HI 96784, Ph: (808) 280-0984;
Fax: (808) 573-0734;

Chicago Health Connection, Rachel Abramson, (312) 243-4772

Community Outreach Workers Association of Maryland, INC. (COWAM), 259 North Lanvale Street, Baltimore, Md. 21217, (410)664-6949 or (410) 669-7960, Contact: Dwyan Monroe

Massachusetts Community Health Worker Network (MACHW), Durrell Fox, Chair,, (617) 262-5657, c/o Massachusetts Public Health Association, 434 Jamaicaway, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130.

New Jersey
Extensions - Connecting Outreach Workers Throughout New Jersey and Beyond
Purpose: Extensions is proud to be the formalized, voluntary, statewide educational association for New Jersey Outreach Workers. Extensions' purpose is to connect Outreach Workers located throughout the state and to provide opportunities for current information exchange. Extensions is the creation of the Gateway Maternal and Child Health Consortium, part of the New Jersey Maternal and Child Health Consortium. Goals: 1. To provide linkage to other Outreach Workers throughout the state and nationally. 2. To support regional efforts. 3. To promote awareness and recognition of the occupation of outreach work. For membership application and more information, call Gateway MCH Consortium at (973) 268-2280 or Pat Wrazz at:

NJ Community Health Workers’ Institute, For additional information, contact Robin Eubanks (UMDNJ-SHRP) at (973) 972-4136, or Linda Boclair (NJ AHEC) at (856) 963-2432.

Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies of Essex, Nichele J. Wilson,
303-309 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102, (973) 621-7758,

New Mexico
New Mexico Community Health Workers Association (NMCHWA), P.O. Box 81433
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87198, or BJ Ciesielski,, (505) 272-4741

Executive Board Contact info:
President--Sylvia Ornelas (505) 982-5460
Vice President--Terri Smith (505 894-0543
Secretary--Margarita Jaquez (505) 882-7370
Treasurer-- Teresa Saiz (505) 262-2480 X232

New York
New York City -Community Health Worker Network of NYC; 425 E. 25 Street; New York, NY 10010; phone - (718) 491-7575; Sergio Matos, Elena Schwolsky, Rita Taylor, and Romy Rodriguez;

Rochester - Rochester Outreach Workers Association (ROWA), Latisha Williams, Chair, (585) 274-8490.

Oregon Community Health Workers Association, 9000 N. Lombard Street--2nd Floor, Portland, OR 97203, 503-988-3366x28686, Teresa Ríos,, or Veronica Lopez Ericksen,

Texas Tech University Health Sciences, El Paso, Dr. D. Williams, office line: 915/545-6552, Lorenza Zuniga - (915) 545-6902.

Virginia Statewide CHW Network. All contact information can be found at:

College-Supported Network Meeting

Over several years a network of individuals linked to college-supported Community Health Worker (CHW) educational programs has been meeting APHA annual meetings and more recently at the 2004 Center for Sustainable Health Outreach Meeting. This informal network includes teaching faculty, staff, researchers, CHW leaders and current students, and others in the CHW field. The interest of the network is to foster the development of responsive college programming to meet the educational objectives of CHWs.

In the past few meetings of the network, the group has decided it is time to begin efforts to forge consensus around key education issues. As a part of this, the group is planning to hold a working meeting on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004 in D.C. in conjunction with APHA. Participants at that meeting will work together to develop preliminary guidelines for assessing educational curriculum and training materials. Several groups will help to organize the day-long meeting; all are committed to assuring a strong CHW presence at the table in spite of limited funding.

Another active area of discussion at the most recent network meetings was a review of the University of Arizona’s proposal for a “National Community of Practice” Initiative submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. The proposal, outlined by Don Proulx at the meeting, is to carry out a national initiative that will lead to the development of guiding principles for college responsive postsecondary education for CHWs. If funded, the three-year project scheduled to begin in October of this year. Twenty college partners are named in the grant application as well as a 15-person project advisory committee including 10 CHWs from throughout the country.

If you want to know more about the network or to contribute to supporting the Nov. 6, 2004 meeting in some way, contact

APHA 2004 Community Health Worker SPIG Executive Board

Durrell Fox
New England HIV Education Consortium
Massachusetts Community Health Worker Network
23 Miner Street
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 262-5657

Chair Elect and Member Retention
Sergio Matos
Community Health Outreach
Health Plus PHSP, Inc.
195 Montague Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 491-7575

Immediate Past Chair
Teresa Ríos
Community Capacitation Center
Multnomah County Health Department
Phone: (503) 988-3366 Ext. 28686
Fax: (503) 988-6923
Cc e-mail to: Noel Wiggins:

Former Chair
Yvonne Lacey
Berkeley Health Department
1767 Alcatraz Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 644-6500

Susan Mayfield-Johnson
Center for Sustainable Health Outreach
University of Southern Mississippi
Southern Station Box 10015
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0015
(601) 266-6266

Policy Committee Chair and
Governing Council

Lisa Renee Siciliano, LSWA
Massachusetts Public Health Association and
Massachusetts Community Health Worker Network
4 Lancaster Terrace
Worcester, MA 01609
Phone: (508) 791-5893

Immediate Past Governing Council
June Grube Robinson
724 Hoyt Ave.
Everett, WA 98201
(425) 249-2019

Lee Rosenthal
2250 East 8th Street
Tucson, AZ 85719
(520) 882 2105 x2

Program Planner 2004
Elena Schwolsky
Community Health Worker Network of NYC
452 51st St., Apt. 1
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(212) 481-5193

Liaison to Other APHA Sections, SPIGs and Caucuses
Tori Booker
Migrant Health Promotion
224 W. Michigan Ave.
Saline, MI 48176
Tel: (734) 944-0244
Fax: (734) 944-1405

Communication/Continuing Education
Nell Brownstein
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
4770 Buford Hwy NE MS K47
Atlanta, GA 30341-3717
Phone: (770) 488-2570
Fax: (770) 488-8151

Newsletter Editor
Gail Ballester
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 5th floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 624-6016
Fax: (617) 624-6062

Member Recruitment
Dwyan Monroe