National Leadership Academy

National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health Empowers Leaders from Multiple Sectors


Building community leadership capacity is essential for the success of any collaborative population health project. Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project has found an excellent resource you may want to consider in the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH) program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NLAPH is a national program focused on improving population health by working with multi-sector leadership teams and training the teams through an applied, team-based collaborative leadership development model. The program is implemented by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP), a center of the Public Health Institute (PHI), and provides training and support for a period of one year.


“This program imparts population health teams with the skills to lead across sectors and collaboratively solve complex population health problems in innovative ways,” said Carmen Rita Nevarez MD, MPH, Public Health Institute's vice president for external relations and CHLP's director. “These are the types of leaders who will ultimately be able to drive critical efforts, such as the adoption of evidence-based policies and practices at the community level, which can have a tangible impact on health outcomes.”

The goals of NLAPH are to:

•    Educate stakeholders about evidence-based policies

•    Drive the adoption of evidence-based practices in communities

•    Better align medicine and public health

•    Improve health outcomes in our nation through sustainable systems change

The Heart of New Ulm Project was selected through a competitive process along with 11 other teams for 2015. Each team has four members participating in the leadership training, which is provided at no cost to the teams or communities that are selected. The training involves a multi-day retreat with other teams from throughout the country, coaching support, peer networking and monthly conference calls/webinars.

Each team also works on an applied health leadership project that tackles an important population health issue with the goal of improving public health outcomes. The Heart of New Ulm Project team is working to develop community leadership and enhance the community skill base as the project begins its transition from a research-based initiative driven by staff to a community-based project that is driven and managed by the community once the research phase is complete.

To assist the team in its effort, NLAPH is providing training and support that focuses on two tracks. The first is the development of leadership skills, including personal and collaborative leadership in a multi-sector environment. The second emphasizes growth from team-based collaborative work to policy and systems change.

At the March retreat in Atlanta, The Heart of New Ulm team had the opportunity to hear from four highly renowned national speakers, including Dr. Reed Tuckson of Tuckson Health Connections; Dr. Judith Monroe, deputy director of the CDC, Dr. Linda Rae Murray, chief medical officer for the Cook County, Ill., Department of Public Health; and Dr. Richard Jackson of Designing Healthy Communities.

Each of the retreat speakers presented timely information designed to spur the participants’ thinking as to how their leadership at the local level could improve the health of their communities. The speakers then presented the groups with specific challenges to work on during the course of the day, learning from each other.

To help guide them through the leadership development process and pose reflective questions to help the team think beyond their comfort zones and expand their learning, each of the 12 teams has been assigned a coach. The Heart of New Ulm Project’s coach is Cathy Slemp, MD, MPH, a public health consultant working with organizations at both state and national levels. Dr. Slemp’s prior experience includes numerous leadership positions in state public health, including as West Virginia’s State Health Officer, Emergency Preparedness Director, and founding director of the state’s Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology. She’s also served on numerous advisory committees and organizations at national, state and local levels. Prior to her medical and public health career, she trained as a family practitioner and volunteered internationally in community development.

The NLAPH application process is held every fall. For more information on NLAPH, visit the Center for Health Leadership and Practice’s website. For more information on The Heart of New Ulm Project’s participation and experience, contact us at [email protected].

The Heart of New Ulm's NLAPH team with their NLAPH coach at the March leadership retreat