Apr 06, 2022

Creating Operational Plan

Brittany Giles-Cantrell, MPH

de Beaumont Foundation

Brittany Giles-Cantrell is a Senior Program Officer at the de Beaumont Foundation, where she leads a portfolio of partnerships and programs to strengthen investments in public health systems, policies, and practices that center health and racial equity.

The National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development was never designed to be a new, standalone organization. With the abundance of nonprofits, academic institutions, and other organizations with unique histories, expertise, and influence, the public health community may not need a new organization focused on strengthening the public health workforce.

The National Consortium was born out of a desire to better coordinate and align efforts that were already being undertaken to support the workforce through a collective impact model. It is our shared belief that coordination leads to better communication, intentional collaboration, the smarter use of limited resources, more informed strategies, and — most important — improved outcomes. We also believe it’s important to bring together the leading organizations in public health to state emphatically that its workforce cannot achieve this country’s public health goals unless it centers health equity.

But when you bring together organizations — their missions, their staffs, their cultures — it is imperative to clarify expectations for how you will work together for shared impact. Because the Consortium relies on the volunteer participation of its members, those members need to know how their collective work will be organized, what it is they are committing to, and how their participation will contribute to success.

In the fall of 2021, a governance subcommittee of the National Consortium’s Steering Committee finalized an operational plan to provide guidance for how the Consortium would be structured and managed. The structure they created aims to balance power, distribute leadership, promote shared ownership, allow for equity in decision-making, and facilitate aligned action.

In brief, there are currently four categories of “players” who contribute to the management and operation of the National Consortium: the Steering Committee, the Executive Committee, the Working Groups, and the Backbone Team.

The Executive Committee’s role is to provide overall leadership in Steering Committee discussions through facilitation and modeling, garner feedback and input from the Steering Committee, act as thought partners and advisors to the Backbone staff, provide performance management of the Backbone Team, assist with the recruitment of new Steering Committee members, and support fundraising for joint initiatives and to maintain the Backbone Team.

The Steering Committee’s role is to establish and update the Consortium’s Common Agenda and approach, engage in ongoing learning to support strategic thinking and action, provide strategic guidance to the Backbone Team and to the Working Groups, review progress, and champion the collective efforts of the Consortium to policy and decision makers.

The Working Groups are, as their name suggests, doing the work. They are focusing on elements of the common agenda — such as recruitment and retention — to developed more detailed strategies that will achieve the Consortium’s collective goals — and then putting those strategies into action.

The Backbone Team project manages and coordinates the efforts of the other players. They lead and facilitate Executive and Steering Committee meetings and coordinate follow-up; support aligned activities, including developing and advancing policy recommendations; establish shared measurement, evaluation, and learning practices; cultivate the engagement of the public health workforce, public health field, and other sectors; and support members in mobilizing resources on behalf of Consortium priorities.

We anticipate that this operational plan will evolve over time in response to needs and opportunities that surface through our work. But we do not want the perfect to be the enemy of the good — there is simply too much work to be done. We need a plan to guide us today. If the Steering or Executive Committees decide to make significant changes, we will provide updates here.

You can see an abridged version of the plan on the National Consortium website, and you can request a more detailed version by emailing inquiries@publichealthworkforcedevelopment.org.

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