Workshop: Using Engagement to Gain Ground on Healthy Lifestyles

Health Equity Workshop Track:

Location: Hilton Denver City Center
1701 California Street, Denver, CO 80202
Date: Friday, June 22, 2018
Time: 11:15am – 12:30pm Workshop Block 2
Room: Penrose 1

Click here to view the 2018 National Conference on Local Governance & All-America City Awards combined agenda.


Zach Dyer is the former Deputy Director of Public Health for the Worcester Division of Public Health and the Central MA Regional Public Health Alliance. He was responsible for the organizational implementation of the Community Health Improvement Plan, Community Health Assessment, Strategic Plan, and other organization-wide efforts that direct the work of the Division/Alliance. He has also taught Clark University’s first Intro to Public Health Course for the last three years and is co-owner of Trendline Assessment & Planning, LLC.

He is the former co-chair for the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester, a member of the Worcester Partnership for Racial & Ethnic Health Equity, and serves on the Mass Public Health Association’s Policy Council. Zach is active nationally as a member of the New England Regional Health Equity Council, the American Public Health Association’s LGBT and Black Caucuses, and various workgroups of the National Association of City and County Health Officials.

Zach received his MPH in 2013 in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University, and his BA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. He is now an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts. He is passionate about working toward health equity, the role of the built environment, and the intersection of health and educational achievement. As a lifelong resident of Worcester MA, Zach appreciates the privilege of working in a community with a rich history of being home to so many diverse groups of people.


Thelma Craig, Board Chair, Colorado Black Health Collaborative. Mrs. Thelma Craig retired as Project Administrator for the HIV Care and Treatment Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She has served over 30 years in the public health sector as a Health Educator, Disease Control Specialist, Research/Analyst, and Contract Monitor. She has over 25 years of experience serving in community organizations as Health Educator/ Public Speaker.  Thelma is one of the founders of and currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Black Health Collaborative (CBHC). She is also the Program Manager for Disease Control REACH Cooperative Agreement. Thelma serves on the Planning Council for the Public Health Academy. She was honored with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and National Civic League for 2016 Health Equity Award.  She was awarded the 2015 Living Portraits Award from the National Council of Negro Women.  Thelma serves on the Partnerships for Academicians and Communities for Translation Council (PACT). Cody has dedicated her volunteer time and service to a number of community organizations.

She is a writer and Cultural Commentator, currently working on her first book.  She is the mother of two and a Nana of three.  She believes that it truly  “takes a village” to promote health and wellness.


Using Engagement to Gain Ground on Healthy Lifestyles:

This workshop will feature two programs that are engaging community members in shaping, developing, and implementing systemic changes to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations in their respective communities of Denver, CO and Worcester, MA.

In 2008, after hosting a Family Reunion Event partnering with the Health Equity Department at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to begin to address health issues in the Community, the response from the Community was that, “you can’t just come once and leave and not come back [to address the health equity issues ongoing].” This event was approximately 8 years ago planting the seed that birthed the CBHC and its important mission to achieve health equity in Colorado’s Black/African American Community. Taking the response from the Community to heart, Thelma and Terri have been at the helm of planning, coordinating and hosting quarterly health forums, annual family reunions, workshops, and executing the Barbershop/Salon Program through partnerships, collaborations, and teaming arrangements with community-based organizations, other non-profits, public organizations, private entities, government agencies, and individual Community members. To that end, CBHC has established a sustaining presence in the Community, understanding the unspoken truths, and connecting with the Community in unique, innovative and culturally relevant ways that speak to who and where they are. Through its collaborative networks in the Black/African-American Community, CBHC has become trusted and valued partner.

As part of the 2012 Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) the Worcester Division of Public Health included a goal around health equity as part of its five areas of focus. While overseeing the implementation of the 2012 CHIP, Zach Dyer ensured the focus on health equity through all the other focus areas including healthy eating and active living, behavioral health, primary care and wellness, and violence and injury prevention. From farmers’ market access to gang violence reduction, the CHIP focused on closing gaps between racial groups. In 2016, Zach oversaw the development and launch of the next iteration of the CHIP. In this version, while there were now nine priority areas, the updated CHIP focused on one central goal: health equity. This goal is at the center of every objective and strategy within the CHIP. The 2016 CHIP includes the following priority areas: Racism & Discrimination, Substance Use, Mental Health, Economic Opportunity, Cultural Responsiveness, Access to Healthy Food, Physical Activity, and Safety. Further, reflecting on the inequitable distribution of power and resources in health improvement initiatives like the CHIP, a new structure for implementation was adopted that would move the control from such an initiative out of a government institution, where bureaucracy often stands in the way of true community engagement. In a rethought structure, a coalition of individuals representative of the community, representing diverse organizations or no organization at all, now oversees the implementation of the CHIP, including communications, evaluation, and funding distribution.


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