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Supporting Effective Leadership

Public health leadership is a multifaceted endeavor. Susan Allan, former director of NWCPHP and current faculty member is taking part in several efforts that support emerging public health leaders.
Supporting Effective Leadership

Susan Allan, MD, JD, MPH

Susan Allan, former director of NWCPHP and current faculty member, is involved in ongoing efforts to support emerging public health leaders.

May 20, 2014

Susan Allan, MD, JD, MPH, former director of NWCPHP, has a strong interest in helping others strengthen their public health leadership skills.

Allan is a coach for the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH). NLAPH is an applied leadership training program funded by the CDC and administered by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice. Allan coaches two teams—one from Washington and one from Oregon. Each team in the Academy is multidisciplinary with no more than one member who is a public health professional. The teams are also multi-generational.

“A small part of my role is to be a technical expert,” said Allan. “The majority of what I do is to provoke reflective learning among the team members.” Although the program is structured around a project that each team works on together, the importance of doing this work in a way that keeps awareness on how the work is being done is emphasized. Each team has a monthly call that may last up to two hours. Allan works with the team coordinator to plan the agendas for these calls.

“As the public health field moves away from a direct service provision model to ways of working that influence policy or empower others to improve population health, programs such as NLAPH are helping to ensure that the role of public health in communities remains relevant and robust,” said Allan.

Allan also took part in a recent tribal judges seminar sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and administered by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. This two-day training, held at the Tulalip Resort in Tulalip, Washington, was attended by tribal judges and others working with emergency response policies for tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

“Public health response often requires a fair amount of legal code,” Allan said. “If you have a food-borne illness outbreak, you need the authority to collect food samples, examine the food preparation facility, look at medical records, and take action. There are a lot of pieces to consider. Part of what the seminar organizers hoped to accomplish was to help participants think through their own codes and processes so that public health preparedness could be enhanced in tribal communities.”

In the first session of the seminar, Allan spoke on the importance of legal preparedness for public health emergencies. According to Allan, the formalization and use of public health law can save lives, reduce costs, and provide security and stability to communities.

Other sessions focused on topics such as mutual aid agreements, the development of tribal public health codes, and data sharing.

“Tribes in Washington are really leading the way in thinking about these areas. It’s exciting to host public health law experts from around the nation who want to learn from what’s happening here.” said Barb Rose, MPH, Outreach and Training Design Specialist at NWCPHP, who attended the seminar.

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