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OPHA Outgoing President’sMessage – A Look Back - Claire  Boettler, RN, MPH

It’s really hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since my term as president began – it seems like just last week that I wrote my initial “president’s message”, yet here I am writing my last message!  I have thoroughly enjoyed my term as president and would like to extend my heart-felt thanks for the support I’ve received from my fellow Executive Board members – having such passionate and dedicated public health professionals on the executive team makes the responsibility of being president much less daunting!  I would also like to thank all the members of the Governing Council – without their willingness to serve and be engaged in moving the business of the association forward, we would certainly not be as successful as we are. 

Last week we had the opportunity to celebrate public health, our association and each other at the 7th annual “Celebrate Public Health Awards Dinner”, and I took that opportunity to talk about some of the highlights and accomplishments from the past year that are certainly worth celebrating and that I’d like to share here. 

One of the first things I got to do as president was attend APHA’s annual president-elect meeting at their offices in Washington, D.C. in June.  This was a great learning and networking experience and two of the best things I learned were how highly Ohio is regarded as an affiliate member of APHA, and that we have one of the largest memberships of all the affiliates – two things definitely worth celebrating! 

In August the Governing Council voted to establish a new standing committee – the Health and Equity in All Policies (HEiAP) Committee chaired by Robert Jennings and co-chaired by Carla Hicks. This committee has been very busy and has accomplished a great deal in the last nine months.  Most exciting is that they’ve secured a legislative champion who has agreed to introduce legislative language that would require all legislation to be considered through a health and equity lens, similar to how the Governor’s Common Sense Initiative currently functions using a business impact lens.  Our association’s commitment to being a loud voice for health and equity in all policies is absolutely worth celebrating! 

In December the Governing Council voted to approve a new strategic plan that was updated and streamlined to make sure our priorities are achievable and measurable.  The plan’s four priority areas are: Membership; Infrastructure and Operations; Funding; and Policy &Advocacy.  Under the priority areas of maintaining a strong infrastructure and operations as well as funding, the Governing Council voted to increase membership dues for the first time in many years.  While the issue of increasing dues was not taken lightly it was felt to be necessary to maintain the work of our association and, personally, I believe our membership rates are still a bargain when compared to other state and national professional association membership dues. 

In March the Executive Board approved a salary increase for our association’s two paid staff members: Executive Director Lois Hall and Program Assistant Jamie Weaver.  This is the first staff salary increase in at least seven years and is a further demonstration of our commitment to maintaining a strong infrastructure and effective day-to-day operations.  These two ladies consistently go above and beyond the call of duty in promoting the work of our association – we are lucky to have them and they are most definitely worth celebrating! 

In closing I would like to ask that everyone reading this message take a moment to celebrate and appreciate yourself and your commitment to public health, and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.  I truly appreciate all of our members and the work each of you do every day in service to your communities – individually and collectively, we ARE public health!


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