National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) Annual Meeting and Unity Conference

Community Health Workers: The Workforce We Need for the World We Want

Day 1 – August 3
Day 2 – August 4
Day 3 – August 5

UNITY Conference Opening Session

8:00 – 9:45 am CDT

  • NACHW Unity Conference Opening Session with Breakfast: Please join NACHW for this opening session which will feature welcomes from several Texas CHW Networks and a panel and award ceremony for our founding board.

BREAK 9:45 – 10:00 am CDT

Special Gathering of CHWs and Allies

10:00 am CDT

Choose from one of the following workshops.

BREAK 11:30 – 11:45 am CDT

Exhibitor hall open 10:00 – 11:45 am CDT and 1:30 – 4:30 pm CDT. Engage with sponsors, businesses, organizations and educators at their booths. Learn from our poster presentations. Visit the craft market to purchase wares from local and CHW businesses.

Lunch with Keynote

11:45 am - 1:30 pm CDT

Workshops Round A

1:30 - 2:45 pm CDT

Choose from one of the following workshops.

The Community Catalyst Vaccine Equity and Access Program (VEAP) provided funding to 90 community-based organization (CBOs) to develop and implement effective health communication and community engagement strategies designed to increase COVID-19 and influenza vaccine confidence and acceptance in racial and/or ethnic communities. Ongoing thematic challenges raised by the CBOs reaching racial and ethnic LGBTQ communities included misinformation/disinformation, issues with the city government, health centers, and other entities not understanding the important of reaching queer communities. Join this for lessons learns and best practices.

Growing and sustaining CHW networks to support our workforce are critical. Many networks are started by CHWs and Allys. In this session we will discuss how to build and sustain your network through a variety of development activities. Attendees will discuss frameworks for developing a CHW Network, explore financial models to support your work, and cultivate opportunities to start and grow your CHW Network.

In this session we will discuss best practices for prison reentry services, including prison in-reach and post-release. We will discuss operationalizing equity and break down tangible tactics at addressing the social drivers that impact the health of returning citizens, including but not limited to economic stability, social and community context, access to quality education and training, access to healthcare, neighborhood and built environment.

Join us for an interactive and informative workshop on building up your personal and professional brand to boost your career! Now, more than ever before, community health workers are in a position to rise in the ranks, utilize professional development opportunities, and receive the acknowledgment and compensation that they deserve. They must, however, be their own biggest advocates. In this session, we’ll enter the magical world of Disney to learn skills, tricks, and treasures from some of our favorite animated characters. We’ll discuss Tangled industry workforce trends, hear stories of challenge and triumph from fellow CHWs, and share Herculean ideas for transformative change. We’ll explore how tools and resources can Bolt us towards our goals and leave with practical skills to elevate ourselves, as well as the overall profession. Cinderella never gave up on her dreams and neither should you. Let’s do this!

In this session participants will explore the innovative Texas model for getting students certified as CHWs while still in high school. Through collaborative efforts of multiple state entities, high school teachers are getting certified as CHWIs and students across Texas are becoming CHWs. In its first year, over 70 teachers implemented the program in their schools. With over 1,000 students certified in two years, the model established is doing exceptional things for students, schools, and the State of Texas. Hear from teachers and students about their experience in the program, and learn about how the program functions from those that run it. This session will show you how through partnership and collaboration we can bring resource access to all, and how we can build the next generation of CHWs!

African American men are disproportionately impacted by adverse health conditions – conditions that can be averted or mitigated by the regular use of preventive health services. These adverse health conditions contribute to a lower life expectancy among African American men than any other ethnic/gender group in the U.S. Despite recent calls by the U.S. Congress to reduce disparities in preventive health service use, African American men continue to be underserved. That is because these men experience unique structural and personal barriers to preventive health service. African American men are less likely than men of other races/ethnicities to use health services even when accounting for insurance status, access to services, and availability of services. Thus, there is an urgent need for tailored evidence- and community-informed strategies to promote preventive health service use among African American men. CHWs are potential resources that can improve preventive health service use among African American men. This discussion will have two components: (1) an overview of a project rooted in community-based participatory research seeking to promote preventive health service use among African American men and (2) a discussion of multilevel strategies to leverage CHWs to promote the health of African American men across the U.S.

Tribally employed CHWs, referred to as Community Health Representatives (CHRs), play a critical role in care coordination and improving social determinants of health. With funding from the CDC, the Community Health Representative Workforce Integration in Tribal Health Systems to Address COVID-19 (CHRs WITH uS!) Project aims to address health inequities driving significant COVID disparities among American Indians in Arizona. Led by the Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care, CHRs WITH uS! represents a consortium of seven CHR programs including Cocopah Indian Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Gila River Health Care, Hopi, Hualapai, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and White Mountain Apache. This interactive presentation will describe how CHRs WITH uS! established innovative approaches to scale-up CHR workforce and program capacity and promote increased integration of CHRs within tribal-serving health systems. Our Program-to-Program Mentoring (PPM) model matches CHR programs with demonstrated integration systems, policies and protocols with mentee programs. Integration manuals are being developed in collaboration with CHR Program partners, outlining best practice policies and protocols in the areas of health and human service systems, public health emergency preparedness, vaccine deployment and high-risk care coordination. Manuals will be broadly available to strengthen the Arizona and national CHR workforce

The Homefree Outreach Prevention Education Initiative, also known as H.O.P.E., is a model of community engagement focused on providing underserved and disadvantaged communities in El Paso, Texas with health and human service resources. The goals is to deliver evidence – based health screenings and health education to adults experiencing homelessness and to do so in partnership with the Opportunity Center for Homeless and more than 45 community agencies. The population served are adults at becoming homefree, experiencing homelessness, or in unstable housing. Connecting H.O.P.E. + health fair participants with health and human services through referrals and follow ups by community health workers or promotres de salud has increased enrollment in primary care, human service programs and access to care. In addition, University students and faculty engage in high impact educational practice and learn how to engage and serve community in need. Community Health Workers/Promotores de Salud are fundamental in bridging community members in need with services/professionals. CHW”s are cultural and linguistic brokers, interpreters, address health disparities and help change lives.

Developmental concerns, delays, risk factors, and disorders must be identified and corrected as soon as possible in young children to re-align toward an anticipated developmental trajectory. Community Health Workers (CHWs) utilized in the early childhood realm are a rarity and critically important for the strength of our future. The Healthy Paths for Strong Brains program provides integrative support services by well-trained certified CHWs to help ensure families can access services, such as pediatric screenings, resources, and referrals for children 0-3 years of age. By utilizing CHWs in the early childhood realm, children, families, and communities are unified by constructing healthy paths for developing strong brains.

Los promotores de salud juegan un papel esencial en la salud de la comunidad a la que sirven, son un modelo a seguir por lo que en su rol de educadores, es su deber promover comportamientos saludables, enseñar habilidades de autocuidado y proporcionar información sobre medidas preventivas de salud. Para los promotores de salud, las demandas del trabajo pueden afectar el bienestar físico y emocional e incluso pueden conducir al agotamiento y el deterioro de su salud. Practicar el autocuidado es esencial para que los promotores mantengan una buena salud física, emocional y mental y para llevar a cabo sus funciones de manera efectiva. Durante la presentación se hablará del desgaste físico y emocional que causa el trabajo de los promotores de salud, la importancia del autocuidado, se explicaran los beneficios de pintar para la salud mental. Además, se llevará a cabo una sesión breve de pintura sin brochas en la que los participantes podrán hacer sus propias creaciones.

This session aims to address the juggling act of parenting, education, and community. Often CHWs exude the quality of servant-leadership. As servant leaders learning how to manage time to maintain state certification, community relations, and family. This is important in providing quality serve, resources, and care to the clients served, while taking time for self-care. Attendees will identify the role of CHWs in relation to parenthood, education, and community Recognize the importance of self-care to analyze and reflect on their current position and roles as CHWs

When someone is diagnosed with a chronic or serious medical condition, in addition to their medical concerns, they may be worried about a variety of financial issues, including concerns related to insurance, government benefits, and rights at work. CHWs are well-positioned to help navigate these issues and help patients understand how to mitigate the financial impact of a medical condition, across the continuum of care. This session will focus on the financial issues that someone with a medical condition may face after diagnosis, topics include health insurance, disability insurance, employment, and finances, to improve patient and caregiver access to valuable information on how to mitigate the financial impact of a medical condition across the continuum of care.

Lo invitamos al taller de nutricion y actividad fisca, del programa Vida Vibrante de El Sol. En este taller aprendera que todo lo que usted come y toma a través del tiempo importa. La combinación correcta de alimentos puede ayudarle a ser más saludable ahora y en el futuro. Unase a nosotros tendremos una demostracion de Zumba. El Programa Vida Vibrante de El Sol es una iniciativa culturalmente sensible de seguridad alimentaria y prevención de la obesidad con el objetivo final de disminuir la obesidad y aumentar los hábitos saludables de nutrición y actividad física.

Understanding your community and the ‘communities within your community’. Ask what does your community look like? Key questions such as what are the demographics of your community? Who do you work with and what are their concerns? These questions to explore your community will culminate in a down-home approach to community outreach.

Break 2:45 - 3:00 pm CDT

Workshops Round B

3:00 - 4:15 pm CDT

Choose from one of the following workshops.

This session focuses entirely on providing participants with information and skills to create and sustain a mind body balance for wellness. Participants will have an opportunity, in this interactive workshop, to learn activities and skills that focus on stress reduction and mindfulness. These skills will provide the participants with the skills to facilitate wellness in very stressful jobs while also giving them knowledge they can share with the families and people they serve.

Participants will be introduced to cognitive strategies during this session and a 15–25-minute guided mindfulness meditation. Participants will learn how to choose an anchor or home base for the object of their meditation practice.

  • Reframing: Emotion focused strategies, An opportunity to manage anger skillfully, Owning our emotions, Problem solving strategies
  • Reframing: Thoughts are only thoughts – you can change them, Emotion focused strategies, An opportunity to manage my anger skillfully, Owning our emotions, Attitude adjustment, Problem solving strategies, Seeing new options

Traditional thinking to sustain programs focuses only on funding. While funding is crucial, creating an environment which supports and retains CHWs is crucial as well. The Center for Community Health Alignment (CCHA) has a sustainability plan that includes CHW retention. CCHA has developed an Ambassador Program and consistently creates opportunities for professional growth based on CHW core competencies. The workshop facilitators, all CHWs and staff members of CCHA have developed and utilized tools to promote retention and uplift CHW leadership. The facilitators will share strategies to increase staffing stability and utilize professional development as a tool to enhance program sustainability. The workshop provides participants with the tools to co-create opportunities for CHWs to thrive, increase skillset, and enhance leadership opportunities to promote retention. CHWs and allies participating in the workshop will have an opportunity to co-create retention plans for adaptation in their programs.

This workshop will be led by a team of CHWs at Dell Medical School at UT Austin who work in a variety of health settings including vaccination sites, homeless encampments, outpatient clinics and hospitals. We will engage session participants in a critical examination of co-creating and codeveloping a standardized screening for social determinants of health (SDoH). There will be a particular focus on developing a shared tool to facilitate collaboration and data management across projects for CHWs engaged in a variety of health settings. We will also share our experiences informing a closed loop referral process to community-based organizations and discuss discussion regarding effective practices and lessons learned for developing, piloting, and implementing meaningful and effective SDoH screenings, referral processes and data management. We will also discuss the broader context of social care workers addressing social needs within medicalized healthcare systems, the power dynamics at play, and the challenge of sustaining CHW programs within the context of grant funding. Participants will provide insights and feedback on our recommendations for developing a SDoH screening that is essential for beginning to address community health. We will also discuss the importance of data management for workforce advancement and sustainability

The Workforce Development and Development Committees are excited to present a workshop to support CHW individual capacity around development, fundraising, job searching, and more.

Community Health Workers are critical members of the public health workforce, who connect the individuals we serve with resources and advocate for communities facing inequities. However, nationally there is limited guidance on career pathway development for CHWs, which restricts our opportunities for career advancement, and which can lead to turnover, attrition, and workforce instability. Led by CHWs, and utilizing a wealth of input from CHWs and CHW allies nationally, the Center for Community Health Alignment will discuss the importance of supporting CHW career advancement and will engage participants in conversations on best practices and suggestions for designing strategies that organizations can use to improve CHW career pathways and reduce attrition. We will provide an example of how a statewide CHW association and a large health system each developed CHW tiers. We will assist CHWs and allies in developing talking points to use for advocacy for career advancement and pathways.

The Appalachian Kentucky Health Care Access Network (AKHCAN) has worked for nearly two decades to expand CHW programming and grow the CHW workforce in Kentucky and throughout Appalachia. Our partner, The Kentucky Rural Healthcare Information Organization’s (KRHIO), Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) initiative invests in education, training, and career support services for people in rural Kentucky having experienced addiction and have achieved recovery. Together, KRHIO and AKHCAN are collaborating to provide WORC program participants a career path to becoming a CHW. A career where one’s individual lived experiences are seen as assets and one’s connection to the community served is essential. The WORC Training Program is overseen by program staff that have received 40+ hours of CHW training and successfully met all requirements to become certified CHWs in Kentucky. KRHIO recognized early the value of CHW led programming, and the AKHCAN/WORC partnership is stronger because of this shared value. This workshop will provide participants a closeup view of how organizations can come together to expand CHW programming to improve outcomes for participants, partner agencies, and the community

As part of a federally funded study, ASU OCHER provides technical assistance and guidance for 68 grantees nationally to assist in CHW integration into frontline response to COVID-19 with a focus on vulnerable or marginalized populations. ASU OCHER has assisted grantees with program evaluation and technical assistance while also initiating a study on CHW integration into care teams. This study examines the facilitators and barriers to CHW integration at the organization, policy, and systems levels in both rural and urban settings across the US. The data come from a variety of grantees that have successfully integrated CHWs into diverse local organizations. ASU OCHER will briefly present preliminary findings from this integration study and current knowledge on sustainability for CHWs. Following the presentation, there will be a roundtable discussion to gather information and knowledge to assist in formulating a study on CHW sustainability in their local care teams.

In 2020 Horizon BCBS of New Jersey launched The Neighbors in Health Program, a statewide initiative to address social needs for medically and socially complex members through the engagement of CHWs and Personal Health Assistants. Horizon Neighbors in Health is an innovative collaboration between Horizon as the payer, hospital systems including Inspira Health Network, health coalitions and community-based organizations available to Horizon members enrolled in Medicaid, Commercial, and Medicare Advantage products. Forty-five CHWs and four Personal Health Assistants are co-funded by Horizon and our partners. Using advanced analytics Horizon identified members driving avoidable spend, likely the result of social determent of health (SDoH) barriers, health inequities, and lack of support. These SDoH factors are known to impact access to health care, clinical outcomes, overall wellness, and life goals. COVID 19 exacerbated these barriers; launching in Spring 2020 was a fortunate coincidence. The Neighbors in Health program successfully connects members to resources, closing gaps of health inequities and disparities to improve health outcomes, and finding long term sustainable opportunities for the diverse communities we serve.

The Arizona Community Health Workers Association’s (AzCHOW) team includes CHWs, promotores and other professionals in psychology, and physiology. AzCHOW develops training and educational materials that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, providing a broad-based community response program to assist CHWs in educating, referring, and advocating for their communities’ well-being. These resources are particularly needed in rural areas, where access to medical professionals and resources is limited. AzCHOW has conducted a series of webinars focused on stress as a key factor in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease and COVID 19. These webinars aim to increase community health and wellbeing and to provide strategies to improve treatment compliance. This presentation will share a CHW/Promotores model for education and prevention of cardiovascular disease and COVID-19. The
presentation will also analyze the biological impact of hormonal and neurological changes related to stress and their overall effect on cardiovascular disease, general health, and immunity. AzCHOW’s training center provides CHWs with the knowledge and resources necessary to assist those in their communities, helping to improve the overall health and well-being.

In this presentation, I will share my journey to becoming a community health worker, the story behind the creation of the San Antonio CHW Association, and the partnership with Northwest Vista College. This will include the actions taken to establish the Association, ongoing efforts to develop CHW professional skills, and the partnerships we have formed to elevate the CHW professional representation as valuable members of the local public health workforce. Attendees will Formulate a higher education and career pathway, practice job interviewing skills, discuss the value and benefits of belonging to an Association or any other professional network, describe existing partnerships working together to elevate CHW workforce development.

This session is a discussion of gender identity, expression, and health disparities amongst the transgender community. Intersecting identities cause an accumulation of health disparities for many marginalized people. However, the transgender community specifically has seen an onslaught of bills and laws created to keep them from accessing health care. Attendees will review relevant terminology, extend core CHW values as a 2nd responder, and gain insight on a community that needs more allies in today’s climate.

Promotores de Salud y Alianzas Comunitarias Estrategicas (Titulo) Un promotor de salud comunitaria es un enlace que actúa como mediador cultural entre los servicios de salud y sociales, y la comunidad. Por lo tanto uno de los principios fundaménteles de ser un promotor de salud es tener buenos aliados para lograr de esta manera conectar a la comunidad con los servicios existentes en el área en la que habita. En esta sesión usted aprenderá estrategias para conectarse con organizaciones de una manera eficaz y productiva.

Training Sessions

1:45 - 4:00 pm CDT

Choose from one of the following facilitated trainings.

In this interactive and dynamic training presentation conference attendees will engage with lead trainers in the field of Health and Racial Equity specifically designed for and by Community Health Workers. Knowing that the solutions for communities exist within those that are closest to the issue, this session will include information and examples garnered from CHW experiences and insights while allowing space for conference attendees to continue building on these conversations and contributing to this work. Individuals will gain strategies and perspectives while sharing their own experiences, knowledge, and expertise with those in attendance. This session will serve as a networking opportunity in addition to a learning opportunity. For too long the conversations about systemic change regarding overcoming health and racial inequities have been spoken about communities, this session will continue the ongoing initiative to have CHWs shape and contribute their valuable lived experiences as we continually adjust to the shifting landscapes we all are situated within.

Popular (people’s) education (PE) is a worldview and a methodology that aims to create a more just and equitable society by creating settings in which people most affected by inequities (and in some cases, their allies) can (re)discover and pool their inherent wisdom and resilience and use it to solve problems. While PE is most associated with Latin America (and particularly with the Brazilian educator and political theorist Paulo Freire), various forms of PE have arisen around the world in response to oppression and injustice.  

PE shares historical roots and principles with the Community Health Worker/Promotor/a model, including the ideas that people most affected by inequities are the experts about their own experience, and that knowledge gained through life experience is just as important as (and in some cases, more important than) knowledge gained through formal education. PE and the CHW/P model have been used together in many times and places; they create synergy in such a way that they are more powerful together, than either model is alone. 

In this workshop, member of the CHW Common Indicators Project, will use the techniques of PE to increase participants’ capacity to use PE in their work.  

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is an on-going public health crisis, with drug addiction being one of the most stigmatized health conditions worldwide. This stigma impacts access to treatment, as health conversations surrounding substance use may not happen as frequently with people who use drugs as often as with people living with other forms of chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, or hypertension. Thus, CHWs, including Peer Support Specialists, who assist with health education, action planning, motivational interviewing, and harm reduction can be invaluable in decreasing stigma, misinformation, and strengthening community awareness to support these at-risk individuals. This training includes CHW education about OUD, overdose, stigma, and harm reduction and was developed with the intent of helping CHWs feel more comfortable having open conversations about OUD and addressing treatment barriers resulting from accessibility or stigma. The training also discusses the importance of harm reduction, such as drug testing and using naloxone. Content was developed by the Center for Community Health Alignment, based upon an in-depth literature review and extensive consultation from CHWs with experience in substance use prevention settings. Overall, increasing CHW knowledge can be an effective approach to decreasing negative outcomes of the opioid crisis in our communities.

A growing number of programs and projects engaging CHWs have published findings that impact and affect the scope and practice of CHWs. However, these outcomes, recommendations, and suggestions often come from academic sources and researchers who are the primary reviewers of the material for public distribution. Of concern, CHWs historically have not adequately been represented in the peer review (PR) process of research and projects that involve recommendations for CHWs. In the past two years, a few editorial teams comprised of CHWs, CHW instructors (CHWIs), and CHW allies have attempted to recruit and train CHWs in the PR process—with encouraging to results. To address the underrepresentation of CHWs as PRs for publications on CHW projects, this training specifically focuses on building the skills and capacity of CHWs and CHWIs in a manner that facilitates engagement by participants from all educational backgrounds in PR. Specifically, this training developed, reviewed, and presented by CHWs and CHWIs will include the following components: description of PR; types of PR; ethics of PR; components of academic papers; components of a PR; and how to conduct a PR. Attendees will learn how to do a PR as well as how to engage as a peer reviews.

In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched a new 3-year CHW initiative to strengthen community resilience to fight COVID-19. In addition to supporting 68 health departments to implement CHW programs, CDC also supported a CHW-led national center, Envision, to provide funded recipients with training and technical assistance to support program implementation. A portion of Envision’s work, known as the Community of Transformation (CoT), focuses on strengthening the collective leadership capacity of CHWs and allies to implement workforce sustainability strategies. Rooted in principles of power-building to advance equity, CHWs, community partners, and program administrators from twenty-three self-selected health departments are participating in the 18-month CoT, which includes training on CHW leadership; community organizing and coalition building approaches; policy levers for supporting CHW positions; opportunities for peer-to-peer learning; aligning existing local, state, and national efforts to support the CHW workforce; dedicated team time to strategize sustaining their CHW programs when CDC funding sunsets and individualized technical assistance to develop sustainability plans. This presentation will provide an overview of the CoT curriculum; describe the role of CHW leadership in promoting workforce sustainability, and highlight lessons learned.

Advancing health equity is foundational to our work as Community Health Workers (CHWs) and CHW allies. It is a key driver for longevity of life and quality of life for our communities. Equity is not only an outcome but also a process. We envision CHWs as a part of the equity process and advancement of CHWs in North Carolina (NC) as an equity outcome. The NC CHW Initiative is a case example that can be used within other states to initiate practicing equitable partnerships. We risk perpetuating and reinforcing dynamics that work against equity when we don’t change our values, strategy and culture to practice equity. During this interactive session, we will explore the equity values and principles that have been adopted by the NC CHW Initiative through a participatory process, learn about how partners working across the state are putting them into action, and identify methods on how organizations can implement equity practices. We will use popular education pedagogy to foster shared learning and discussion among participants. The goal is to build capacity among participants to operationalize equitable partnerships to support their work in advancing CHWs.

End of Unity Day 1