APHA 2019 Annual Conference: Recap

My name is Christa Cook and I am a Communications Committee Chair.

This year, I was able to attend the annual APHA conference for the first time! My schedule was packed full of sessions and meet-ups and it was all so worth it! I am an infectious disease epidemiologist, so my work is mainly focused on infection control and disease transmission, and I love it… but I’m also interested in other aspects of public health like chronic diseases and social and behavioral health. The conference allowed me to get a little taste of what’s going outside of my focused public health field. I highly recommend attending if your interests in public health are varied.

It’s also a great opportunity to network and meet other members of the sections or committees you’re involved in. I’ve been working with the International Health Section’s Communications Committee for over a year, and I was finally able to meet some of the people I’ve been talking to over the phone with at every month’s leadership call! I attended the business meeting for the section on Sunday and as each representative from committees gave their update, I was able to grasp just how much our section does. Here are a few highlights from each of the section’s committees:

  • The Policy and Advocacy Committee sponsored 3 policy statements, endorsed 2 policy statements, and reviewed/provided feedback to all 17 proposed policy statements.
  • The Communications Committee is now producing the section’s newsletter, the Section Connection. They continue to recruit bloggers for the section website and are active on all social media including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • The Nominations Committee fielded a full slate of candidates for section leadership positions this spring. This year we elected Jirair Ratevosian, Samer Jabbour, and Rania Millerson as governing councilors. Carmyn Polk stepped up to run for secretary-elect, and will assume the secretary position in November 2021. Jay Nepal, Roberto Jorge Esteves and Ucheoma Nwaozuru were elected to the three open section councilor position. Caitlin Wolfe was elected to our section student liaison position. We hope you consider running for a position next year. The latest leadership roster is available here
  • The Membership Committee conducted an online membership survey in Spring and based on the feedback proposed a plan to more actively engage members.
  • The Global Health mentoring program saw an increase in the number of mentor/mentee pairings in 2019 compared to 2018. Applications for the 2020 cohort are now open.
  • The Program Committee created over 40 scientific sessions for this year’s annual meeting on emerging public health issues of international importance, including nine collaborative sessions with association components.

It was so inspiring to learn about the work that each of our committees does! I also was introduced to a few of the International Health section’s different working groups such as the breastfeeding working group, international abortion working group, and the climate health and working group. I wasn’t aware of these groups beforehand and found myself interested in learning more. I even connected one of the heads of the working group with a colleague at the conference because I knew her passion aligned with the group’s mission. 

APHA International Health Section’s Open House

After the business meeting, the section held their Open House. The Open House is an opportunity for all members to get to know the work the section does. This year our Assistant Social Media Manager, Jackie Bell, represented the Communications Committee. The format of the Open House was similar to speed dating where members and potential members would spend a few minutes at a table with each Committee and listen to what each Committee does and ask questions.

On top of attending the country’s largest gathering of public health professionals, you also get to explore a new city. This year, the conference was held in the wonderful and historical city of Philadelphia. I got to sneak away to see where the Declaration of Independence was signed as well as do a cheesy tourist bus ride to learn more about the other historical sites scattered around downtown! I learned SO much inside and outside of the walls of the conference center.

Annual Awards Ceremony and Networking Event

On Tuesday night, I was able to briefly attend the section’s annual Awards Ceremony and Networking event. During this event, section members are able to meet other section members as well as section leaders. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the wonderful global health work our members do. During that time, they also presented awards to people I’d consider to be global health heroes.  To learn more about this year’s awardees, click here.

To summarize the conference events, I’ve found some quick links for both attendees and those who were unable to attend this year. See below:

For attendees:

  • Check out pictures from the fun-filled week right here! Try to find yourself if you attended!
  • Did you attend and forget to file for continuing education credits? Check here for instructions on how to obtain your credits.
  • Did you learn the APHA dance and want to teach others at your workplace? Find the youtube video here!
  • Did you attend and want to share about the conference? Comment on the blog post below or find us on our social media platforms. We may spotlight your experience this month!

For those wanting a recap:

  • The theme of this year’s conference was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For Science. For Action. For Health”. Read more about what that means in the link above.
  • Some of the best highlights from the conference can be found here on APHA TV! These quick clips can give you a taste of some of the biggest speakers that presented.
  • The annual meeting had many diverse workshops the Saturday before the conference. See a listing of the different options that were available this year here.
  • If you’re interested in reading other’s perspectives about sessions at the conference, check out the blog here. You can also cruise APHA’s social media channels to see what others retweeted or posted about the conference!
  • The conference also had a neat Social Media Lab! Check out the link to see what was available for attendees. This was super beneficial for those wanting to revamp their organization’s social media platforms to increase their public health presence. 
  • Still want more? You can purchase sessions like the opening, general and closing sessions from APHA Live. If you’re a member, it’s half price! 

I hope I’ve convinced you to attend next year’s event in San Francisco!

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