124: ASTHO Heads to Capitol Hill

Carolyn McCoy, ASTHO’s Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, shares how public health leaders will engage with Members of Congress today in virtual Hill Day meetings; Amber Williams, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President of Leadership and...

Spotify podcast player badge
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge

Carolyn McCoy, ASTHO’s Senior Director of Federal Government Affairs, shares how public health leaders will engage with Members of Congress today in virtual Hill Day meetings; Amber Williams, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President of Leadership and Organizational Performance, explains the excitement for ASTHO’s new PH-Hero program; and Dr. Kimberlee Wyche Etheridge introduces us to Onesimus, an enslaved African who helped save hundreds of Boston residents from smallpox in 1721.

ASTHO News Release: ASTHO Launches Resiliency Program to Support Public Health Workforce

ASTHO Blog Article: Who Is Onesimus?

ASTHO logo



This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


ASTHO members are meeting one-on-one with key leaders in Congress today as part of the organization's annual Washington Week conference. Carolyn McCoy is ASTHO's senior director of federal government affairs. She outlines the plan to address important policy and funding matters in today's morning conversation.

What should your members keep in mind as they get ready to visit with members of Congress today?


We at ASTHO would love for our members to just keep in mind that this is an opportunity to build a relationship, start a relationship, reinforce a relationship with your federal delegation—and if you're able to provide insights on funding priorities or program priorities, that's the icing on the cake.

But really, building a relationship and introducing yourself or bolstering the existing relationship is really the goal of why we want everybody to meet with their members on the same day at the same time so that everybody gets that same kind of influx of public health officials on the same day at the same time.


Because of the pandemic, public health is now a household term. How does that impact your members' meetings with members of Congress?


I think it can cut both ways. You know, public health has never really been the funniest person at the party, but we're certainly known when we're at the party.

I think ASTHO's profile—and therefore also our members' profile—has both increased each other, so getting meetings with top legislators has become a lot easier; not that our members before didn't bring that star power, but it is definitely something that we have noticed a lot more attention from members of Congress willing to meet with our members one-on-one.


And doesn't that make these meetings even more important?


That's a really good point. We love to have that member of Congress at the table to have direct questions answered.

I would also like to promote that the staff from these Hill offices are equally as important and influential as the member of Congress themselves because they're the folks who, day-in and day-out, are living and breathing and eating the policy that affects public health and governmental public health. So, should the member of Congress not be able to attend a meeting, the staffer is just as important to share all of the information that you would like with just the same.


The Capitol Hill meetings will be held online throughout the day.


ASTHO has a plan to help jurisdictions address burnout among public health workers. The PH-HERO program will provide resources to improve resiliency and morale among weary employees stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amber Williams is ASTHO's senior vice president of leadership and organizational performance.


I think it's really exciting that employers, including our members, are acknowledging that the way that we work is not working. And this is a real opportunity for us to think about how we design workplaces and work itself in a way that people can have great work-life balance, can contribute to their communities through our public health work, but that organizational stress doesn't contribute to further mental health and stress for them.

I think this is just a real wonderful opportunity for us to invest in and strengthen the support for the public health workforce that has done so much with very little acknowledgement through this pandemic.


Read more about the PH-HERO program using the link in the show notes.


Finally today, do you know the story of Onesimus? In 1721, this enslaved African helped save hundreds of Boston residents from smallpox. ASTHO's Kimberlee Wyche Etheridge tells us how he did it in a new blog article available online. Follow the link in the show notes.


That'll do it for today's newscast.


We are back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.


I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Amber Williams MS

Senior Vice President, Leadership & Organizational Performance, ASTHO

Carolyn McCoy MPH

Senior Director, Government Affairs, ASTHO