The Northwest Leadership Foundation would like to officially welcome on of our newest initiative Leaders in Women’s Health!
In 2011 a group of all-volunteers gathered to design and implement strategies to impact screening and incidence rates of breast cancer in African American communities in Tacoma and the surrounding areas. Leaders in Women’s Health (LIWH) has now enveloped into an initiative of NLF to be led by women of color who are helping to set and drive the health agenda for Tacoma and Pierce County.
The LIWH Mission is dedicated to positively impacting health disparities by:
- Educating communities of color to promote good health and healthy lifestyles
- Advocating for health equity
- Reaching out to provide resources and training for better outcomes in our community
NLF President/CEO Patricia Talton and NLF Executive VP Annie Jones Barnes have provided support to LIWH since 2011 when the Carol Milgard Center Board of Directors engaged the NLF to convene and facilitate a series of listening sessions with six engaged churches, two civic groups, and 79 participants, after looking at the shocking incidence rate of breast cancer in the African-American community in Pierce County. The original group of 25 volunteers has grown to over 50 members, 35 who meet on a monthly basis to continue this work.
Recently, LIWH has been at a crossroads: in order to continue to deepen the work, structure had to be considered. They needed to decide whether to be a loose coalition convening every month, to be their own nonprofit or formalize their relationship with NLF. The group grappled with these questions, did a comparison analysis of the different options for structure, and chose to become an initiative of NLF after discussing pros and cons. A delegation of three leaders asked Patricia Talton, in a formal and touching ceremony, to become an initiative of NLF at the LIWH Retreat in May at Harmony Hill.
Becoming an initiative of NLF means that the work of LIWH is aligned with NLF’s strategic plan and the staff receives executive supervision, office space and operational support. NLF staff will also help brand the initiative and raise funds to help advance and grow the LIWH. One of the most important tools that will help advance the work of the LIWH is a communication platform, and NLF will assist in making this a reality.
LIWH is also thankful for their funders:
- CHI-Franciscan Health System and MultiCare Health System funded LIWH to produce Asset Mapping reports in three areas of Tacoma with the largest health disparities: Hilltop, East Side and Tacoma Mall area neighborhoods.
- Carol Milgard Breast Center continues to significantly support the work of LIWH by partnering to increase visibility and status of this group in the public health and hospital system arenas locally and nationally. LIWH is also partnering with their new FaithHealth in Action initiative to provide Leaders who will help African American churches outreach better to their congregations so that more African Americans receive information on breast health and feel comfortable getting mammograms and other important screenings, which can save their lives. LIWH continues to meet at Carol Milgard monthly, and they provide space, technical assistance and breakfast on a monthly basis.
- Susan G. Komen has recently awarded a grant to provide 2 Community Health Workers to outreach on breast health to the African American communities in Tacoma to increase mammogram, or early screening and navigation for those whose access has been or is limited to services regarding breast health. With this grant, LIWH is also able to measure their impact with numbers and methods of reaching communities in authentic ways that make a difference.
At least 25 of the 50 leaders provide meaningful outreach regarding a variety of health topics as nurses, health professionals, in their faith communities, through health ministry, and many are connected to groups of Community Health Workers that make a great impact through outreach and education. The scope of our Leader’s in Women’s Health work is far beyond even the direct services of health outreach in increase equity or breast health outreach. Last Spring (2015), LIWH help a Health Equity Summit and Leaders Breakfast to highlight how communities can partner in significant ways with clinical and hospital systems to impact our community’s health in more positive ways.
Now that Asset Mapping has been conducted for the Hilltop, East Side and Tacoma Mall areas, they will present the information back to the hospital system and forge a path forward to work more in partnership to build community trust and show hospital systems that communities know their health needs best and can help in preventing urgent or costly care, if valued and supported in meaningful ways.
This group is very involved in advocating for equity as the public health and hospital systems adjust to health systems change because of the Affordable Care Act. They are involved in advocating for the role of the Community Health Worker at the Accountable Communities of Health regional meetings and various Leaders attend the Innovative Partnership meetings and even lead the Community Health Worker meetings. LIWH also advocates for more culturally competency trainings for providers in our community. This work in ongoing and deep, and the seeds planted today will help grow a better health outcome in the future for our communities of color.
If you are interested in getting involved with LIWH and become a member, attend of their monthly meetings is a great way to start. They meet on the second Wednesday of each month at the Carol Milgard Breast Center on the third floor, 7:30 – 9 am. There will be brief orientation and attendees can choose to become a member and help in several different ways. LIWH asks member what reach and Leadership they already have in the community, and this helps LIWH keep on track of how their groups is making an impact in our community.
Donations for LIWH can be made online at http://northwestleadership.org/ or made to Leaders in Women’s Health, Northwest Leadership Foundation, 1119 Pacific Ave., Suite 800, Tacoma, Washington 98402. If you have any questions, please call Liesl Santkuyl, Coalition Coordinator for Leaders in Women’s Health at (253) 227-9511 or email at LSantkuyl@northwestleadership.org