Health Champions

WSPHA celebrates National Public Health Week by recognizing Health Champions — individuals, coalitions and businesses demonstrating excellence in their efforts to improve and protect the public’s health in our state.

Community Health Worker Collaborative of Pierce County

Community Health Worker Collaborative of Pierce County

The Community Health Worker Collaborative of Pierce County is a coalition of community health workers (CHWs) who began meeting in 2012 to network and provide peer support. They created quarterly professional development workshops for CHWs based on feedback from the group. These workshops were often led by members, utilizing expertise already possessed within the Collaborative. In 2014, the group collectively opposed two Washington State bills that could have had a negative impact on CHWs.

In 2015, they nominated two CHWs who were selected to represent Pierce County on the statewide CHW Task Force. They have a Policy Watch Committee who stands ready to act on anything related to housing and transportation policy. The Collaborative decided in late 2015 to collectively send letters to policymakers about the potential health risks of the proposed Methanol Plant in Tacoma.

This group of dedicated CHWs is committed to: raising the voice of the community to policymakers; changing systems and policies that impact health; and decreasing health disparities by working collectively. Their overall goal: The Pierce County CHW Collaborative works together to raise community voice. They aim to advocate for the CHW workforce as having a critical role in health reform, systems change, and community advocacy.


Swinomish Indian Tribe Community

Swinomish Tribe

The Swinomish Tribe is a champion for its efforts to address the severe oral health issues experienced by their Tribal members. Many Swinomish Tribal members, particularly children, were suffering and potentially facing life-threatening conditions due to the lack of access to dental care. The Swinomish Tribe took action: they licensed and employed a dental therapist on the Tribe’s reservation as an exercise of their inherent tribal sovereignty.

Swinomish Tribe dental care

Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHAT) were first certified to practice in Alaska more than 10 years ago by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Swinomish is the first Tribe in the lower 48 states to use a similar model. The significance of this program is great—oral health research shows that historical traumas have caused Indians to lead the nation in oral disease rates. By age five, 75 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives experience tooth decay.

Recent federal statistics for Washington, Oregon and Idaho show that Indian children suffer tooth decay at three times the national average. This is exacerbated by the low dentist-to-patient ratios in Indian Country resulting in lack of access to regular dental treatment and prevention services for many Indians. Additionally, turnover among providers in Indian Country interrupts continuity of care and inhibits the delivery of culturally competent services. The addition of the dental therapist is a best practice model that has helped the Swinomish Tribe to ensure that all Tribal members have access to reliable, high-quality and culturally competent dental care.


Healthy King County Coalition

Healthy King County Coalition

The Healthy King County Coalition is a member-driven group who works to mobilize communities to achieve health equity. Many policies, systems, and environments make healthy choices more difficult, and this is more true in communities of color and lower-income neighborhoods. These groups experience health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, at higher rates.

Healthy King County Coalition

The coalition’s members, through workgroups and governance team, drive the dialogue—and the work—upward to the coalition as a whole. Listening hard and directly to the people the coalition serves means that communities long underrepresented and unheard have a voice. Current work of the coalition includes a billboard campaign against e-cigarettes, leadership training, public forums and roundtables on health equity and community health issues, and partnering with Public Health Seattle-King County and Seattle Children’s on a Partnership to Improve Community Health (PICH) grant. Their 2015 leadership training helped equip over 30 emerging leaders to talk to lawmakers and others about health equity issues.  The training includes telling your own personal stories, how to ask for what you need, and how to navigate political systems.

Led by Program Manager Val Thomas-Matson, coalition members include the Center for MultiCultural Health, Food $ense, the Trust for Public Land, International Community Health Services, APICAT, FEEST Seattle, El Centro De La Raza, the YMCA of Greater Seattle, and SeaMar Community Health Centers.


Salishan Community Health Advocates

Salishan Community Health Advocates

This small but mighty group of neighborhood leaders promote healthy living and self-advocacy in their community. The Salishan Community Health Advocates use a peer engagement model to help their neighbors learn about their health and make changes to be healthier. A few highlights in their work with adults includes blood pressure and diabetes monitoring, walking groups, community gardening, and helping neighbors navigate the complicated health care industry.

Salishan Community Health AdvocatesTheir work with children in the neighborhood stands out. The advocates found that many of the teenagers were cooking for younger siblings. These teenagers had little access to healthy food or experience cooking healthy recipes. The advocates helped design a Youth Kitchen that included shopping trips, recipe selection and community cooking classes. This is a "win" for the families now eating healthier foods, the teenagers who are learning lifelong positive habits, and the younger siblings who are witnessing a community-based approach to healthy eating.

The advocates also helped form an impressive bike club in partnership with the neighborhood youth and regional bicycle enthusiasts. The advocates helped bring in a bicycle club to mentor kids about the trails and how to enjoy them, they gained access to a grant to purchase bikes, and they are partnering with a local business to teach kids about maintaining the bikes. These are skills that will support a fun and active lifestyle for years to come.


Claire Furtick and Paul Tamura

Claire Furtick & Paul Tamura, Nathan Hale High School / Public Health—Seattle & King County

In Washington State, 43% of girls and less than a quarter of boys age 11-17 have completed the three-dose Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Paul Tamura and Claire Furtick, Sophomores at Nathan Hale High School in North Seattle, spearheaded an ongoing campaign (starting in September 2015) at their school to change this. They have done an exemplary job promoting the HPV vaccine in their school by collaborating with peers, teachers, and other school staff to raise awareness of the vaccine’s value, and encouraging their peers to begin/complete the three-dose vaccine series at their School-Based Health Center (SBHC). Paul and Claire partnered with Public Health–Seattle & King County to launch this campaign in their school and collaborated with the Nathan Hale school nurse, health teachers, administration, and the SBHC. As busy students participating in various clubs and sports, they have dedicated many hours to improving the health of their peers, receiving recognition at the State level for their efforts.

Recognizing the incredibly low immunization rates in Washington State and the gravity of the consequences, Paul and Claire set out to raise awareness and promote action among their peers. They recognized that most HPV vaccination messaging targeted parents of 11-12 year olds and excluded teens, who were still well within the recommended age for HPV vaccination and eligible for free vaccines through the Washington State Vaccines for Children Program. They saw a missed opportunity and focused a campaign at their high school on messaging that resonated with their high school-aged peers. Thus far, Paul and Claire have designed and disseminated posters in their school, published an informative article in their school newsletter, presented to Freshmen health classes, and taken advantage of the powerful word-of-mouth in their high school to increase knowledge of the HPV vaccine, its value, and how to get the vaccine at the SBHC or in the community.

They are currently planning an HPV awareness week that will include HPV vaccine promotion premiums for students, scavenger hunts, a school-wide assembly and spirit competition, and daily overhead announcements. From conceptualizing to implementing these efforts, they have spearheaded this project, which has received Statewide recognition. Additionally, Public Health–Seattle & King County plans to use their success as a model to launch similar campaigns in middle and high schools throughout King County. This expansion proposal recently received a grant for $150,000 to replicate the great work Paul and Claire have done at Nathan Hale and expand evaluation of the impact of these campaigns on vaccine uptake.


Kachina Inman

Kachina Inman, Healthy Living Collaborative of the Southwest

Kachina Inman is the Executive Director of the Healthy Living Collaborative (HLC) of Southwest Washington. The HLC believes positive change comes from building multi-sector partnerships that acknowledge the complex drivers of health in the modern world – then authentically connects that collective impact infrastructure to community quality of life and community wisdom.

Members include health care, public health, social services, education, faith, a tribal nation, housing services, transportation, private enterprise, and more. On the strength of this diverse membership, the HLC mobilizes communities around the key issues, creating a path for local solutions to be actualized by health systems and community organizations working in deliberate and focused partnership with the people who live in our most vulnerable communities. The advocacy and program work of the HLC has benefited the health of thousands of people in the counties of Clark, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz and Skamania.

This is difficult and challenging work. A key to the organization’s success is Kachina’s leadership. According to Andy Silver, HLC Chair, "Kachina’s best strength is her personal connections and relationships across sectors. It is the glue that keeps us together as we tackle tough issues. Kachina keeps people at the table and engaged around the goal of impacting vulnerable people. She is committed to having the voice of the people being served – not doing to, doing with!"

Carlos Carreon, Cowlitz County Health and Human Services Director and HLC member said, "Kachina embodies the idea of collaborative leadership. She creates momentum with space and diversity of opinion." Kachina "very skillfully leads by leading from behind. [She] acknowledges all contributions, [and] finds value in all contributions and is always looking for common ground."

Kachina received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Minnesota in Community Health Education and has over a decade of experience in Public Health; she has worked in a variety of different settings, including both direct client engagement and regional policy and systems work.


Beth Wilson

Beth Wilson, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

Beth Wilson saw a need in Pierce County to reduce infant mortality and preterm deliveries. To address this need, she met with community partners and together they formed the Perinatal Collaborative of Pierce County (PCPC). The PCPC had its first membership meeting in March 2012. Today, the PCPC has grown to over 26 community agencies/organizations, and over 250 members. This growth has helped the PCPC to create eight subcommittees: Cribs, Homeless, Conference, Perinatal Emotional Health, Breastfeeding Coalition, Collective Action, Pierce County WIC Coalition and the First Steps committee.

Through the cribs committee alone, the PCPC has raised a total of $33,963 to purchase 403 port-a-cribs. These cribs will be provided to low-income women with infants meeting a specific criteria in an effort to reduce SIDS/SUIDS. The PCPC has held a sold-out conference each spring for three years and reached over 300 participants collectively.

Community partners look forward to the quarterly general meetings in which there is time for networking, a community spotlight, and an educational offering. There are regularly 50 in attendance. This collaborative would not have taken place without the passion and leadership of Beth Wilson.


Frank Chaffee

Frank Chaffee, Public Health – Seattle & King County

Frank Chaffee has been a leader in HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ issues, and the health of Washington communities for over 30 years. Frank began his Public Health career in Tacoma Pierce County at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic where he created and provided the earliest HIV testing services. He worked with the Seattle Gay Clinic helping to promote health services for gay/bi men. Frank continued this work joining Public Health – Seattle & King County in 1986 where he provided HIV testing services and trained others to do this work. He soon advanced to management and began to strategize and advocate for community health on a larger stage, removing barriers and assuring HIV testing and HIV/AIDS care services amidst fluctuating political climates and shrinking budgets.

Frank has been instrumental in: moving HIV testing services into communities to reach those at-risk; helping to steward Needle Exchange services in King County to assure the ongoing health and well-being of injecting populations; improving linkage-to-care for those living with HIV; and introducing PrEP services to help keep individuals HIV negative.

His unwavering humor, knowledge, wisdom, tenacity and huge heart have vastly benefitted people living with HIV/AIDS in King County as well as the health of HIV-negative individuals. Frank retires from Public Health this year. Because of his service and the mentoring of others to successfully continue this work, Frank leaves in place a structure and services to assure the continued health of King County and Washington residents.


Natalie Tauzin

Natalie Tauzin, Spokane Regional Health District

Natalie Tauzin has been championing healthy eating changes in Spokane County for more than a dozen years and she is passionate about it from her core. She uses policy, systems and environmental changes established collaboratively with partners through education, negotiation, and problem solving to create sustainable transformation.

Her work at the Spokane Regional Health District spans the age spectrum. Natalie developed Let’s Cook Whole Foods and oversaw the training of child care center cooks. Now, nearly 5,000 children in northeastern Washington enjoy healthier food. To keep the improvements, she worked with center directors to adopt policies supporting whole foods. Natalie has increased the selection of healthy food items for more than 30,000 students and employees by training cafeteria managers and staff to use behavioral economics. She also teaches cafeteria workers to use their relationships with customers and the six principles of the power of persuasion to encourage customers to make healthy choices.

Her team’s work reduced sodium in worksite and university cafeterias by more than 200 million milligrams and customers never noticed. Recommending lower sodium products, such as ketchup, and recipe modifications of soups, salad dressings, main dishes and other have resulted in 10%-60% reduction in sodium. By working with some of the area’s largest food purchasers, Natalie is influencing area food vendors to stock a greater variety and larger volumes of lower sodium items, making them available for other kitchens as well.


Robin Evans-Agnew

Robin Evans-Agnew, University of Washington Tacoma

Robin Evans-Agnew, University of Washington Tacoma Nursing & Healthcare Leadership Assistant Professor, is a Health Champion as reflected in his advocacy and research on public health issues, particularly clean air. Robin has extraordinary skills in bringing together academic and community organizations to improve health. He provides leadership on the Puget Sound Asthma Coalition, Washington Asthma Initiative, and Tacoma-Pierce County Community Health Improvement Plan.

Robin’s public health practice includes school nursing, public health nursing, and serving as Scientific Affairs Director at the American Lung Association of Washington. He transitioned to an academic career and teaches community/public health nursing. Robin’s strong research and policy agenda addresses environmental justice, indoor and outdoor air quality, asthma care, asthma management in schools, and health equity. He integrates research and community service with teaching, providing students with real-world opportunities to improve health.

Robin’s collaborative citizen-science youth environmental justice and woodsmoke pollution research project is raising awareness about an important local public health issue. He is conducting collaborative research funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and Multicare Institute for Research and Innovation to better understand families’ perceptions about asthma management. This community-based participatory research includes establishing an asthma parent research advisory network and involves Latina mothers in an asthma friendly childcare pilot intervention.

At the annual Lung Force walk, Robin inspires others through his ‘Asthma Man’ persona. Robin frequently contributes ‘op-eds’ on public health issues. He continually advocates for public health issues including funding, clean air, asthma home visits reimbursement, and e-cigarette prevention policy.