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March 2009 Minutes

American Public Health Association

Disability Section Minutes

Monthly Meeting

Conference Call


March 5, 2009



Council members present: Anthony Cahill (Accessibility Co-Chair);

Roberta S. Carlin (Communications Chair), Charles Drum (Governing Council Representative), Willi Horner-Johnson (Treasurer), Stephen French Gilson (Chair Elect), Catherine Leigh Graham (Accessibility Co-Chair), George Jesien (Membership Chair), H. Stephen Kaye (Program Chair), Gloria Krahn (Past Chair/Elections Chair), Don Lollar (Governing Council Representative), Suzanne McDermott (Policy Chair), Jana Petersen (Student Liaison Faculty Supervisor), James H. Rimmer (Chair), Jennifer Rowland (Awards Chair), Meg Ann Traci (Secretary), Anjali Truitt (Student Liaison).

Council members not present:

Invited guests: Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of APHA; Fran Atkinson, APHA Director of Component Affairs



Opening: Chair Jim Rimmer opened the conference call meeting at 11:00 a.m. (EST) prompting roll call and welcoming Dr. Benjamin. 



Review of February minutes postponed to April meeting.


Conversation with Dr. Benjamin, Executive Director of APHA

Dr. Benjamin updated Disability Section councilors on health care reform. He reported that Ollie Fine will represent APHA at the Health Care Reform Summit and that Dr. Benjamin has briefed Mr. Fine on APHA’s talking points.

[March 27, 2009 APHA Press Release on topic:]


Dr. Benjamin said he was delighted to be on the call. Jim reminded Dr. Benjamin that Disability is a new section and welcomed this opportunity to discuss APHA’s vision for our new section. Dr. Benjamin encouraged all our members to be active- e.g., putting members forward for awards, serving on committees including the Executive Board, etc.  He also suggested educating Fran Atkinson about the expertise areas of our members so APHA can respond to requests for assistance. Dr. Benjamin said they often have to respond “on the fly” using expertise from local APHA members that meet these requests. Also, APHA is often invited to participate on committees and hearings at the last minute.


Dr. Benjamin talked about possibilities for integrating disability issues at the annual meeting. He mentioned that this year’s theme (2009) is Water. There may be ways to address issues around access and equity for people with disabilities with perhaps greater opportunity next year during the annual meeting in Denver when the theme is related to equity.


Dr. Benjamin also suggested being a part of the health care reform debate that brings in disability issues. He suggested becoming involved in Building a Healthy America, and becoming part of National Public Health Week as another process in which disability issues are well integrated. He also mentioned that the Disability Section be involved in the variety of public health activities that APHA undertakes, such as writing up new science (white papers, fact sheets), and that he has been looking for funding support (CDC, the convergence) to support APHA staff to do this kind of work—e.g., efforts to study social determinants, reports on climate change, nutrition, transportation, and the environment. Disability Section participation in these endeavors will increase representation of disability issues in various APHA products and initiatives. Dr. Benjamin asked the Disability Section to forward opportunities and ideas to APHA via Fran Atkinson.


Jim mentioned that President Obama will appoint several positions, e.g., director of the HHS Office on Disability and asked if we should we bring appointments to Dr. Benjamin’s attention and whether APHA could inform the appointment processes. Dr. Benjamin said APHA cannot endorse any candidate because ‘they don’t know the universe of qualified individuals’—even if they are an APHA member. Jim restated that the intent of informing the appointment processes is to see disability grow in the public health world with leaders who respond quickly and effectively to disability issues.


Gloria posited that next year’s theme of equities is so important to our agenda and asked how could we get involved, specifying the example of involvement in plenary session planning. She stated that Steve Kaye is our program chair and will be focused on this. Dr. Benjamin mentioned several ways to get involved: 1) getting the Section involved; 2) sending a couple of potential speakers’ names to the ‘members at large committee’ and/or filling out the nomination form on the APHA website. Dr. Benjamin will try to make sure at least one Disability Section representative gets on the selection committee (a two-person subcommittee--Carmen Nevara and Dr. Benjamin-- will make appointments ensuring representation of APHA membership); 3) watch for the ‘call for sessions’ during the holidays, coming right out after the normal call for sessions. The Disability Section could then propose a session that should engage leaders in field, be cross-cutting, and attract a large audience. Jim asked if Gloria and Dr. Benjamin could speak later. Dr. Benjamin requested that someone send him an email over the next couple of weeks on this matter, and Gloria indicated that she would do so.


Jim recalled looking at the Health Disparities Summit proceedings where Dr. Benjamin presented on disabilities and disability rehabilitation and health disparities. Jim suggested Walt Williams (CDC) as an expert on health disparities.

Jim brought up HP2020 pondering how health disparities can be included. Dr. Benjamin said there is one chapter for people with disabilities and asked if we are involved in that process. Jim said we are involved in Chapter 6 but not across chapters. Dr. Benjamin said two members of APHA are involved in HP2020 planning and suggested that Jim contact Shiriki Kumanyika from the University of Pennsylvania. Jim indicated that he would contact Shiriki to learn more about the process. 


Roberta agreed to follow up with Dr. Benjamin’s suggestion to get involved in the National Public Health Week activities. Dr. Benjamin mentioned that this year’s  theme is prevention and health reform. APHA decided that they needed to promote prevention and once they had the public’s attention, to talk about cost, quality and access. APHA thought hospitals and other groups will carry the latter issues and hopefully will integrate prevention as well.


Dr. Benjamin mentioned that APHA did a segment on disabilities about four years ago and asked the Section if they thought APHA could strengthen these materials and redistribute. Fran will get us in touch with Legina so that Roberta can get some of her relevant materials.


Charles introduced himself and asked how we can strategize to affect the editorial board to get more disability focused stories in AJPH. Dr. Benjamin said there is a big firewall between the editorial board and APHA. Dr. Benjamin reported that AJPH publishes about 20% of articles that are submitted for review. Dr. Benjamin said APHA has published a growing body of literature on disability and suggested reviewing this portfolio to identify any concerns and to report them to him. Charles clarified that the concern is that high quality articles are not even being sent out for review. Dr. Benjamin talked about the business aspect of AJPH, and said the publication is very dependent on subscriptions. He reported that the open access movement has deeply cut into their pay for abstracts and reprints income. As people are talking about these things and looking for funding, Dr. Benjamin is hoping to double the size of the journal so that they can publish more papers. He projected needing $100,000 and said to alert him if we knew of any funding sources. Meg asked how Disability Section members could be made aware of special issues or issue foci in advance. Dr. Benjamin said that he’ll get back to us, stating that the special issues are usually planned six months in advance and often articles are already in the queue to fill those issues. Dr. Benjamin said that APHA is considering an on-line journal (i.e., all green journal).


Jim asked about internships at APHA as a chance to create public health leaders with disability backgrounds and to increase integration of disability within APHA. Dr. Benjamin prompted Fran. Fran said that internships are posted on-line and available in various areas, e.g, marketing, communications, global health. Interns learn to write reports using qualitative/quantitative data. Fran will pull the list of students in our section and send them information about APHA internships.


Finally, Dr. Benjamin invited emails with concerns.  Jim said that we’re here to serve APHA and asked Dr. Benjamin to let us know how we can be of assistance.


Communications, Roberta Carlin

Roberta reported that the current newsletter is out. She will send an email to let us know when articles are due for the next issue. Jim prompted us to consider involvement in National Public Health Week. Roberta has tried in the past and is encouraged by Dr. Benjamin’s comments today that this year’s efforts may be more successful. Roberta is on the case.


Membership, George Jesien

George emailed a one-page membership report (below). Jim said he would make membership a priority for discussion next month. Jim reminded us that it might not be an easy time for people to maintain their membership due to the financial situation in the U.S.


APHA Disability Section Membership Report

Period: Jan to March, 2008

Prepared by: G. Jesien

Date:  April 30, 2008


Quarterly Membership Update: Over the last quarter we have had 11 members join the Section and 5 past members have allowed their memberships to lapse.


Quarter Membership Activities: 1) Sent welcome letter to new members; 2) Sent reminder to re-join for lapsed members; 3) Identified possibilities for two displays – one a floor model and the other a table top to be used by the Section; and 4) Secured booth for the Disability Section at the APHA annual meeting.


Current  Membership:



Membership Category












Special Health Worker




Total Active Members



Upcoming Activities: 1) Develop, obtain feedback and finalize art work for displays; 2) Purchase and secure the two displays; 3) Complete website for membership component.


Accessibility, Catherine Graham and Tony Cahill

Catherine and Tony set up a conference call with Anna Keller for Monday, March 9, 2009 to discuss how to best get involved in the conference planning. They decided to make improvements to the handout on accessibility for this year’s conference, used to evaluate the accessibility of the conference. Meg asked about the general conference evaluation survey emailed after the meeting and to what extent accessibility evaluation items were included. Catherine will find out what APHA is doing and how to get involved.


Tony asked Disability Section members to email him items they would like included in the evaluation, emphasizing the need for actionable data. Jim asked what the response rate was, and Catherine said approximately 12 people responded noting that we know that there are more than a dozen people with disabilities at the conference. On these twelve or so evaluations, there was nothing that came up frequently enough to warrant action. Jim said Anna Keller is very helpful and that Catherine and Tony will find working with her a delight. Steve will email Catherine the Gerontological Health Section contacts to elicit their insights on accessibility issues.


Catherine will ask Anna Keller how many registrants at the 2008 APHA meeting requested accommodations.


Treasurer, Willi Horner-Johnson

Willi reported that we had $1,281 in our operating account (from member dues) that had to be spent by June 2009.  All of this money was spent on the 2008 awards banquet. The enrichment account (donated funds) has a balance of $3425.50 that includes $412.50 newly credited as a correction of a previous APHA accounting error. There is no time limit on use of this money, so Willi is trying to avoid tapping it to keep it as a "rainy day fund".  Our CDC account had a beginning balance of $14,638 in August 2008.  Funds were spent on printing a student brochure, student scholarships for the 2008 Annual Meeting, AV costs,  interpreters for the Chair's Forum and business meeting, additional banquet costs, booth rental, and minor reimbursements, bringing our current balance to $6349.69.


We have some more money to spend. Fran is looking to see if APHA can help us with a NACCHO mailing. Roberta mentioned that we could get an announcement in the NACCHO newsletter. Coordination with a mailing of Disability Section brochures and a cover letter may help with membership recruitment.


This prompted the question of how many brochures we have left after the 2008 meeting. Roberta will get Willi that number-Willi said we need about 2,500 for a mailing.


Willi said that she will report on our operating account this summer after the membership count is completed. CDC funding is expected for next year as well. It was suggested that some of our funds be used for a breakfast meeting with leaders of other sections. There is no information yet on the banquet costs for the 2009 meeting in Philadelphia.


Awards, Jennifer Rowland

Nomination forms were sent out. May 1st was set as the submission deadline so the awards committee could make APHA’s June 15th deadline for inclusion of awards summaries in the preliminary program. Jennifer reported that she has responded to inquiries for awards nomination materials. The Lifetime Achievement and Student Awards will not require APHA Disability Section membership, but the other awards will. These requirements reflect a compromise for this year, but the awards committee agreed this discussion would remain open for next year’s process.


Jennifer also provided a brief update on the history document and requested that people send her photos for inclusion in the document.


Program, Steve Kaye

Steve reported that there were159 Abstracts submitted, 37 more than last year. He has heard that many people cannot attend this year because of funding limitations. He assigned reviewers over the past weekend. Each reviewer was assigned 12 abstracts to review. Steve announced that Roberta won the award for completing her reviews first. Steve is still working on joint or invited sessions. He has been in contact with several potential speakers. Steve asked that reviewers of abstracts submitted for presentation in the Health Care Access session complete their reviews soon so he can follow up with those presenters ASAP.


Elections, Gloria Krahn

Jana has been talking to a member who wants to become more involved. She thought that the open positions are not necessarily the best points of entrance for new members and suggested that the Disability Section councilors outline a process for such members to become involved on sub-committees.


Jim suggested the membership committee as an example, pointing out that George has a conflict with next year’s APHA conference and can’t attend. He said having a committee to carry out on-site duties for George would be a tremendous help.


Suzanne suggested a listserv email with information about sub-committees and invitations to get involved.


Jim said there are a lot of things for folks to get involved with--- awards, history, etc.…


Roberta said she tried Suzanne’s strategy a few years back and had a good response.


Sub-committee participation leads to experience so people are ready to take on Disability Section councilor positions.


Policy, Suzanne McDermott

Suzanne reported that Don Hoppert said that Dr. Benjamin will sign the statement on the APHA Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities this week. Jim suggested that Suzanne contact Dr. Benjamin directly. Suzanne will send a thank you letter once Dr. Benjamin has signed the document.  


Suzanne reported that 60 people have signed on to this resolution.


We are coordinating a breakfast or warm up conversation about policy to engage the general membership. Jim suggested that we host a small breakfast and invite Section Chairs that are interested in our topics to discuss with us how to infuse disability issues into APHA policies and identify areas for collaboration.


Willi will look at breakfast menus when available to see what fits our budget (50 people) and Jim will email APHA to see how to get a breakfast set up for Monday or Tuesday. We’ll ask for RSVPs.


Chair’s forum, Stephen

Harkening back to chair’s forums of the past— Stephen Gilson suggested hosting 10-15 minute presentations of work that is currently relevant to the field and represents where we are going as a field, focusing on work that is in-progress and facilitates discussion. He is interested in the role of epidemiology. Stephen will draft a proposal with assistance from Jim and Gloria.



Jim Rimmer closed the meeting at 12:21p.m. (EST). The next Disability Section Council meeting will be held April 2 at 11:00 a.m. (EST). Minutes submitted by Secretary Meg Traci.