Health Working Group

In 2014, members of the Health Working Group convened to assess their collective geographic footprint, health funding priorities, and barriers to the implementation and sustainability of health improvement strategies. These stakeholders discussed a mutual commitment to accelerating the economic transformation of central Appalachia by:

  • Orienting investors and other stakeholders to the social determinants of health and Appalachia’s regional health disparities;
  • Identifying economic development opportunities in the healthcare sector;
  • Integrating health and healthcare issues into the Funders Network’s Framework;
  • Encouraging coordinated investment in strategic initiatives that promote health in all policies; and
  • Promoting a regional culture of health that supports equity, improved health outcomes, and greater economic strength.

Indicators of success for the Health Working Group might ultimately include:

  • Improved access to affordable, high-quality, integrated health care;
  • Reduction of health disparities;
  • Widespread access to nutritious food;
  • Increased sustainability of businesses in all sectors;
  • Development of health-related projects and services unique to the region; and
  • Evidence of health in all policies supported by AFN investment.

Health Working Group Priorities and Plans 

During 2015, members of the Funders Network and its Health Working Group will work to refine its understanding of regional health conditions in the Appalachian economic and cultural context. Activities may include:

  • Educating funders on the concepts of social determinants of health, health equity, and health in all policies;
  • Highlighting existing regional health data which may suggest economic opportunity and strategic priorities; and
  • Exploring health-oriented approaches to local investment, such as built environment, public education, and technical assistance grants that support community-level health and well-being.

In addition, in 2015 the Health Working Group will be involved in a deep analysis of the health of central Appalachia. The “Changing our Future” project, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to engage grantmakers in coordinated and strategic action to advance policy and environmental changes that address childhood obesity in Appalachia. With RWJF support, AFN has engaged a research team to:

Aggregate data on the state of health (particularly measures related to childhood obesity) in Central Appalachian states, and on the funders investing in health improvement strategies in Central Appalachia; Review and summarize information on high impact strategies that are, or could be, funded at the community level; Assess the appetite for funders to co-invest in promising or proven strategies; and Document the lessons learned from high performing efforts to improve the population health across the region.
Research findings are expected to help further our understanding of the healthcare sector as a promising sector that can accelerate the Appalachian economic transition, and to enable creation of a “Culture of Health” in the region.

Heath Working Group Membership

The Health Working Group is comprised of initial members representing the Appalachia Funders Network’s states (Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and Western North Carolina). Membership is open to public and private funders interested in addressing Central Appalachia’s health and quality of life issues in a community economic development context. Please contact co-Chair Terri Donlin Huesman to learn how you can join the Health Work Group.

Co-Chairs of the Health Working Group (April 2015)

Jen Algire, Greater Clark Foundation
Terri Donlin Huesman, Vice President Osteopathic Heritage Foundations

Members of the Health Working Group

Crystal Ward Allen, Casey Family Programs
Emily Bever, Health Impact Project: A collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts
Lien Bragg, Casey Family Foundation
Bonnie Blankenship, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Bob Boone, The Bernard McDonough Foundation
Darryl Cannady, Appalachian Community Fund/South
Marianne Clowes, Parkersburg Area Community Foundation
Cynthia Drennan, Sisters Health Foundation
John Earles, Logan Healthcare Foundation
William Hacker, SOAR
Kathleen Marks, Resourceful Communities
Amalia Mendoza, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Monica Miller, WV Development Office
Lisa Nelson, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Laura Nixon, The Educational Foundation of America
Mary Petrus, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Janelle Ray, Pallotine Foundation of Buckhannon, WV
Bethany Rogerson, Health Impact Project: A collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts
Megan Simpson, Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
Allen Smart, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
Eric Stockton, Appalachian Regional Commission
Kimberly Tieman, Benedum Foundation
Susan Urano, Athens Foundation
Jessica Wright, WV Bureau for Public Health