About Community Health Workers

CHW Section History

In 1970, some 500 CHWs and their supporters joined together within APHA in what they then called the New Professionals Special Primary Interest Group (SPIG). Their name was chosen in protest against the many terms used to describe them, including non-professional, sub-professional, aide, auxiliary and para-professional. In the 1980’s, membership and activity in the SPIG declined but continued to present a limited program and hold a business meeting during the Annual APHA Meeting through the persistent and caring leadership of Ruth Scarborough, a CHW from Philadelphia. Throughout the 1990’s, the SPIG was able to revitalize this important CHW voice within APHA. A group of dedicated CHWs and advocates explored ways to make APHA accessible to CHWs and advocated for CHWs to resume governing leadership roles within the SPIG. In 2000, the New Professionals SPIG changed their name to the Community Health Worker SPIG. 

The CHW Section has consistently been involved in APHA governance since 2000 when we gained our first Unaffiliated Governing Councilors, E. Lee Rosenthal and June Grube-Robinson. That same year, the CHW SPIG submitted a resolution in support of CHWs: Policy Resolution #200115, “Recognition and Support for Community Health Workers’ Contributions to Meeting our Nation’s Health Care Needs.”  The resolution was formally adopted in 2002. Currently, we have two Unaffiliated Governing Councilors, Lisa Renee Holderby and Durrell Fox, who are both active and respected CHWs with national leadership positions.


Policy development

    Our goal is to continue to develop policy within and outside of APHA that supports CHWs.


Leadership development

    Our goal is to continue our tradition of electing CHWs to our highest leadership positions, with support from CHW allies and students. This national recognition of the CHW leadership serves as a source of inspiration and power for CHWs everywhere.


Membership engagement

    Our goal is to recruit and retain CHWs, CHWs allies, and students as members of the Section. This will occur through local and regional CHW networks, health networks, academic networks, and independent professional associations of CHWs throughout the United States and the Native American Nations, and at national meetings where CHWs gather.