Released by: Health Services
For Immediate Release

Jen Lewis Selected for New National Leadership Program to Build Culture of Health

Santa Rosa, CA  –  September 22, 2016  –  Sonoma County Department of Health Services’ Jen Lewis is selected to participate in the Culture of Health Leaders program. Lewis is currently the Department’s Special Projects Director and formerly was the Health Program Manager for the county-wide initiative Health Action. Working individually and in teams, these leaders will address top-of-mind issues in health and equity, building creative cross-sector approaches to advancing a Culture of Health.

As one of only 40 applicants selected, Jen Lewis joins Culture of Health Leaders, a new program co-led by the National Collaborative for Health Equity and CommonHealth ACTION with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Lewis will join leaders from across the country to participate in leadership development training and to collaborate and innovate to solve persistent challenges and advance a Culture of Health – one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life. Lewis was one of 528 applicants selected as a semifinalist for the Culture of Health Leaders Program and one of approximately 80 semifinalist applicants selected to participate in the first cohort of 40 Culture of Health Leaders.

“The inspiration and vision these leaders bring to our program is astounding, and they come at health and equity from every angle,” said Brian Smedley, Culture of Health Leaders co-director and executive director and co-founder of the National Collaborative for Health Equity. “They will redefine the way leaders in every field use their innovation and influence to shatter the status quo on health in our country.”

During the program, Lewis will develop high-level leadership skills through professional coaching, networking and an advanced leadership curriculum. While participating in the program she will apply new knowledge, competencies, and leadership locally. In Sonoma County, the anticipated work in the program will build upon the successes to date of Health Action and Upstream Investments, the launch of A Portrait of Sonoma County report, and current cutting-edge work to develop innovative financing mechanisms to improve health and well-being for all Sonoma County residents.

DHS and Sonoma County have a long commitment to address health inequities and disparities in the community. In 2015, Sonoma County applied and was selected as a finalist for the third annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Culture of Health Prize honoring communities whose efforts illustrate an enduring commitment toward building a Culture of Health for all residents. Selected from more than 340 communities across the country, Sonoma County was one of 15 finalist communities. 

“We continue to strive to ensure that all residents in Sonoma County have the opportunity to meet their full potential. Jen’s participation in the Culture of Health Leaders program will support our ongoing collective efforts to build a dialogue of equity and to develop strategies to concretely improve health outcomes in and well beyond the doctor’s office. This program is an exciting opportunity to both learn from experts in the field and contribute to learning across sectors advancing a culture of health locally and across the nation,” DHS Interim Director Barbie Robinson stated.

Also in 2015, Berkeley Media Studies Group featured DHS and Sonoma County in a case study describing the County’s efforts to reduce disparities. The case study also examined the A Portrait of Sonoma County report and how the Portrait is being used to highlight areas of unmet potential. The case study conveys how Health Action’s broad base of support and engagement are crucial for the community to understand how to reduce disparities and work together to enact health in all policies at the local level.

“This program gives leaders like Jen Lewis the opportunity to have even more impact,” said Natalie S. Burke, Culture of Health Leaders co-director and president and CEO of CommonHealth ACTION. “They will gain a very unique experience, allowing them to collaborate and learn from other leaders from many different arenas and immediately apply what they have learned to lead substantive and meaningful change.”

Additional partners providing training and coaching to leaders include: American Planning Association, American Public Health Association, Build Healthy Places Network, Center for Creative Leadership, Institute for Alternative Futures, and Leadership Learning Community.

Culture of Health Leaders is one of four new leadership development programs launched this year by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and represent a four-year, multimillion dollar investment. The programs join five existing leadership programs in advancing RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders impacting health. The 2017 application period for the new programs will open in January. Additional information is available at www.cultureofhealth-leaders.org.


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