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Connections 2016: Building a Healthier Georgia Through Community Partnerships, is Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s seventh statewide convening of grantees, partners and community leaders. The March 2016 conference will feature thought-provoking and leading edge sessions led by Georgia healthcare leaders and experts. The event will also feature the 2016 recipients of the Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award

InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta            Follow us on Twitter:       Like us on Facebook:  
March 29 - 30, 2016                                            


Program Quick Guide                                                                            

Tuesday, March 29
10:00 AM Registration Opens
11:30 AM Welcome and Keynote Address (Lunch)
2:00 PM - 5:30 PM Afternoon Sessions

5:30 PM - 6:30 PM Partnership Building

Reception and Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award Ceremony
6:30 PM - 9:00 PM 

Wednesday, March 30
6:30 AM Registration Opens
7:00 AM Breakfast and Networking
7:45 AM Entertainment
8:00 AM Welcome and Keynote
9:30 AM - 12:30 PM Morning Sessions
12:45 PM Meet the Grantmaker (Boxed Lunch)

 Program - Tuesday, March 29, 2016                                                   


10:00 AM Registration Opens – Windsor Ballroom Prefunction Area    

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM Welcome and Keynote Address – Windsor Ballroom

Welcome and Introduction of Board Chair
Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Robert Nesbit, MD, Board Chair, Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Keynote Performance:

Chris McCord
Director, Men in Motion, Moving in the Spirit

About Chris McCord:
Mr. McCord serves as Director of Men in Motion at Moving in the Spirit, an award-winning nonprofit that transforms the lives of Atlanta’s children and teens through the art of dance. After growing up in Moving in the Spirit’s programs, Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Georgia State University and Georgia Peace Officer Certification from the DeKalb County Police Department. As an adult, Chris returned to Moving in the Spirit to found a program for boys, Men in Motion, so that no young man has to ask the question, "Where are the men?"  

Chris has performed professionally for the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Beacon Dance, Studio Dion, Abundant Life Church and with choreographer Nicole Livieratos. With his diverse background, Chris has achieved success outside of dance, graduating from the Devos Urban Leadership Initiative and receiving a WB Unsung Hero Award. Chris serves as the Vice President of the South Atlanta Civic League and volunteers his personal time with Charis Community Housing and Atlanta’s Special Citizens. His story has been featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Dance Studio Life Magazine.

About Moving in the Spirit, Men in Motion, and Chris McCord



Breaking Keynote: Effective and Meaningful Local Collaborations

Jo Debolt
La Piana Consulting

View bio>>



1:30 PM – 2:00 PM  Networking Break

2:00 PM - 3:30 PM   Session 1

Collaborative Approaches to Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Planning

Room: TRIPPE 1

A community health assessment identifies key health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis. Community health assessment data informs community decision-making, helps the community prioritize health problems and develop solutions to address them. In this session, presenters will identify resources, best practice partnerships, and community engagement strategies to conduct community health assessments in both urban and rural communities. Presenters will describe how to use the data gathered in the community health assessment to develop a community health improvement plan to address community-wide health issues. Participants will learn how nonprofit hospitals engage communities to develop a community health needs assessment, the particular circumstances rural communities face when developing assessments, and how to maximize resources to enhance service delivery to the community.

Facilitator: Tara Echols, MBA, Community Health Planning Coordinator, Gwinnett, Newton, Rockdale County Health Departments


  • Amber Erickson, MPH, District Epidemiologist, North Central Health District
  • Catherine Dunn Kostilnik, PhD, MHS, MA, CHES, President, Center for Community Studies, Inc. 
  • Beth Stephens, JD, Health Access Program Director, Georgia Watch

Trouble in God's Country? At Least Not in Pickens County!

Room:  HOPE 3

Georgia is dealing with older, sicker and poorer people who rely heavily on a severely compromised healthcare system—one that is threatening to collapse on the shoulders of frail rural communities. This session addresses the Foundation's Two Georgias Initiative, and highlights the growing disparities in healthcare access and health outcomes faced by our rural residents. Session attendees are invited to be a part of this conversation about the importance of place through two engaging presentations by “Trouble in God’s Country” and the “Pickens County Rural Health Network.” Our guest presenters will connect the dots between the social determinants of health, health disparities, and the collective response by a rural county exhibiting some of the poorest health outcomes in Georgia.

Facilitator: Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Charles N. Hayslett, President, Hayslett Group LLC                 
  • Cheri Holden, RN, Pickens County Nurse Manager, North Georgia Health District
  • Carole Maddux, CEO, Good Samaritan Health & Wellness Center
  • Terri Theisen, Principal Consultant, Theisen Consulting LLC
  • Larry Toney, Board Member, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital

Media Campaigns and Their Influence on Positive Adolescent Health Behavior

Room:  HOPE 2

The use of media campaigns, including the use of social media, is a recent strategy to positively influence health behavior at the community level; however, many times a media campaign can be hit or miss. This session will highlight the successful prevention work of two organizations, one experienced in designing social norms campaigns and the other focused on using social media campaigns to reach specific community members and influence health outcomes. Learn how to evaluate positive social norm campaigns, how to identify programs and services that would benefit from a social media campaign to improve organizational effectiveness and key best practices in using social media.

Facilitator: Sean Williams, Program Consultant, TechBridge


  • Emily Ayers, MPH, Research Associate, Community Evaluation Solutions
  • Bev Jones, Director of Communications, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential
  • Ann Webb Price, PhD, President, Community Evaluation Solutions
  • Shelley Francis Travis, DrPH, MPH, CHES, Vice President of Programs and Training, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM  Networking Break

4:00 PM – 5:30 PM  Session 2    

Accreditation Connection: Strengthening Public Health to Transform Communities 

Room: TRIPPE 1

Several public health districts in Georgia are undergoing the accreditation process of assessing current capacity and enhancing quality improvement to promote healthier communities. During this session, two health districts will share their journey towards accreditation, discuss how partnerships were developed, and highlight lessons learned. Participants will learn how to engage local boards of health and community partners, steps to create a department strategic plan, and how partnerships with the academic community support the accreditation process.

Facilitator: Gurleen Roberts, MPH, Director of Quality Management, Cobb & Douglas Public Health District


  • Amber Erickson, MPH, District Epidemiologist, North Central Health District
  • S. Elizabeth Ford, MD, MBA, FAAP, District Health Director, DeKalb County Board of Health
  • Angie Peden, MPH, Coordinator, Office of Public Heath Practice, Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, Georgia Southern University 
  • Jimmie H. Smith, Jr., MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Practice & Liaison for the Academic Health Department, College of Health Professions, Mercer University 

What Have We Learned From the Evaluation of Your Healthcare Georgia Foundation Grant: Evaluators Tell All!

Room: HOPE 3

The Foundation believes strongly in the benefits of evaluation: that all organizations should understand their work and why it matters. In 2012, the Foundation established the Evaluation Resource Center and began providing grantees and applicant organizations a variety of evaluation tools and services to help nonprofits achieve better health outcomes. Since 2014, two prominent funding programs - direct services and general operating have been evaluated. What have we learned about the program and evaluation skills, abilities, and capacity of health nonprofits? How can evaluation improve organizational performance and increase the prospects of future support? Do health nonprofits value evaluation support and how do they benefit? Join the evaluation teams from Messages of Empowerment Productions and Highland Nonprofit Consulting for a broad-ranging discussion on evaluating capacity and demonstrating your effectiveness to funders.

Facilitator: Gary Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Jenn Ballentine, MPH, President, Highland Nonprofit Consulting, LLC
  • Quinn M. Gentry, PhD, President & CEO, Messages of Empowerment Productions, LLC

Organizational Development - Inside Out

Room: HOPE 2

This session will provide discussion and tools to examine your organization’s development needs both internally and externally. First, we will look inside exploring best practices and the importance of having an Information Technology (IT) plan addressing strategy and disaster recovery for your healthcare agency or nonprofit. Additionally, we will discuss Succession Planning for Board and Staff as a way to identify talent and leadership, support program growth and develop capacity for the organization. We will review three primary types of succession planning, discuss factors for effective succession planning and relay process planning resources and templates. Then, we will discuss Systems Thinking as a tool to establish and strengthen your collaborations’ problem-solving principles to help diverse stakeholders understand each other’s point of view and discover new solutions to shared concerns.

Facilitators: Mike Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation
                     Katie Watson, Program Assistant/Distance Learning Coordinator, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Jane Branscomb, MPH, Senior Research Associate, Georgia Health Policy Center
  • Jennifer Higgins, Manager, Strategy Group, TechBridge
  • Mary Kate Pung, MSPH, Center Director, Magnolia Coastlands AHEC

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM Partnership Building, Networking and Best Practice Sharing
Windsor Ballroom - Prefunction Area

6:30 PM – 9:00 PM Welcome Reception and Joseph D. Greene Community Service Award Ceremony
Windsor Ballroom
Networking, hors d’oeuvres and live jazz entertainment

Wednesday, March 30 

6:30 AM Registration Opens
Windsor Ballroom Prefunction Area

7:00 AM Breakfast and Networking
Windsor Ballroom

7:45 AM Morning Entertainment

8:00 AM – 9:30 AM Welcome and Keynote Address

Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
Cheryl Christian, Board Vice Chair, Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Keynote Address: The American Dream: From Foster Care to Healthcare

 Dr. Manny Alvarez                          
 Senior Managing Health Editor
 Fox News
 View bio>>



9:30 AM – 10:45 AM Session 1    

Childhood Obesity Prevention: Strategic Partnerships

Room: HOPE 2

Georgia is making progress on addressing childhood obesity and healthy food access. This session will highlight initiatives and partnerships which address childhood obesity and healthy food access in Georgia at both the state and local level. A team of panelists will feature Georgia’s Childhood Obesity Systems Model, the impact of the statewide Georgia SHAPE initiative, Wholesome Wave Georgia, and lessons learned from an urban Healthy Corner Store initiative.

Facilitator: Rodney Lyn, PhD, MS, Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, School of Public Health, Georgia State University


  • Sara Berney, Executive Director, Wholesome Wave Georgia
  • Margaret Hooker, Community Services Specialist, the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research, Georgia State University
  • Debra Kibbe, MS, Senior Research Associate, Georgia Health Policy Center 
  • Emily Anne Vall, PhD, Project Manager, Georgia SHAPE

Cultivating Untapped Youth Potential to Build a Healthier Georgia

Room: HOPE 3

Young people have enormous potential and energy to drive change. Unfortunately, many programs developed to improve youth health outcomes may not incorporate them into the decision-making process and program implementation. In this session, presenters will discuss how they are actively engaging youth in health initiatives and education campaigns. Participants will learn about the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program, a program designed to provide statewide leadership on health issues affecting adolescents and their communities, how building multi-sectoral partnerships that include both youth groups and the Parent Teacher Association achieved a Tobacco Free Schools Policy in North Georgia, and how collaborative efforts supported a youth-focused HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign in Atlanta.

Facilitator: Seema Csukas, MD, PhD, Medical Director, Maternal and Child Programs, Georgia Department of Public Health


  • Anne-Marie Coleman, MPH, Policy, Program, and Planning Advisor II, Tobacco Control Program, Georgia Department of Public Health
  • JoAnne Hammermaster, MBA, Certified Nutrition Coach, Health & Wellness Chair, Georgia Parents and Teachers Association 
  • Kathy Palumbo, PhD, MSW, Director of Programs, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta 
  • LeKara Simmons, MPH, Adolescent Health and Youth Development Coordinator, Coastal Health District 
  • Ashley Singleton, MPH, Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program Manager, Georgia Department of Public Health 
  • Tenesha Wallace, MA, Health Promotion Coordinator, North Health District, District 2 

Building Partnerships that Deliver Impact: Together Everyone Achieves More

Room: TRIPPE 1

What kind of partnership will work best for my organization? How do I build bridges between care organizations that serve vulnerable populations? What are the cultural and organizational challenges to establishing a partnership? How will the partnership and its members benefit? Join the Feminist Women’s Health Center and an impressive partnership comprised of four safety net providers supporting the Sams Care Coordination Program as they share first hand their path to effective partnerships and the lessons learned in their efforts to expand reach and deepen impact.

Facilitator: Dr. Gary Nelson, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Loida Bonney, MD, MPH, Executive Medical Director, Fayette C.A.R.E. Clinic, Inc. 
  • Mollie Cole, MEd, Executive Director, Hands of Hope Clinic
  • Lou Graner, MBA, CPA, CFA, Executive Director, Coweta Samaritan Clinic 
  • Kwajelyn Jackson, Community Education and Advocacy Manager, Feminist Women’s Health Center
  • Holly Lang, Independent Consultant

Strategic Impact Investing: What is it? What have we learned? What is CDFI? What do they do? Why you need to know!

Room: HOPE 1

This session features a review and conversation about Strategic Impact Investing (SII) a potentially new source of philanthropic funding. Discuss the terminology of ‘What is Social Impact Investing?’ Speakers will discuss the learning and discovery process for Healthcare Georgia Foundation and what may apply and what to expect. The speakers will also review and have a dialog about what Program Related Investments (PRI) technically could be and how they might be applied to your health nonprofits work. While the subject is not new, it is progressively becoming part of a learning discussion and an opportunity to broaden the concept of investing in social impact.

Participants will learn about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), their current capacity in Georgia, their activities in areas where the market fails, their possible role in asset development and program enhancement for nonprofit healthcare providers (including charity clinics), and their connection with Strategic Impact Investing and Program Related Investments.

Facilitator: Mike Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Robert B. Cooke, MBA, Executive Director, Southwest Georgia United
  • Mike Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM Networking Break

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Session 2    

Collaborative Partners Who Recognize the Need for Change in Rural Healthcare

Room: TRIPPE 1

There is a health and healthcare penalty for many Georgians living in our rural communities. This session addresses the Two Georgias and highlights the importance of engaging two important collaborative partners, often overlooked in the pursuit of better health and healthcare for rural Georgians. First, the session features an in-depth assessment of the political, financial, and capacity issues encountered in the provision of rural mental health services and the important opportunity for greater engagement by the mental health workforce. A second presentation will feature the perspectives of rural community leadership, in particular the critical role county commissions and chambers of commerce serve on matters of health and healthcare.

Facilitator: Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Thomas Bornemann, EdD, Director of Mental Health Programs, The Carter Center
  • Mary Eleanor Wickersham, DPA, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, College of Coastal Georgia

The Power of Many: Building Effective Community Coalitions to Mobilize and Engage People from Change

Room: HOPE 3

Coalitions are made up of individuals and groups working together to accomplish a shared goal. In this session, presenters will discuss how to build and manage effective coalitions, develop synergy towards a common agenda, introduce strategies to keep people engaged, and utilize coalitions as both a core organizational strategy and tool for policy change. Participants will learn how Collective Impact, a multi-sectoral systemic approach to achieve social impact using a common agenda and shared measures of success, is being used to develop a statewide plan to reduce teen pregnancy. Participants will also learn about best practices of coalition development and management, including how to engage and retain a broad section of systems leaders at a statewide level to drive policy change and at a local level to enroll children into Georgia public health insurance programs.

Facilitator: Eva Elmer, MPA, PMP, Campaign Manager, Campaign for Healthy Kids and Families, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council


  • Laura Colbert, MPH, CHES, Director of Outreach & Partnerships, Georgians for a Healthy
  • Suzanne Donovan, MJ, Executive Director, Step Up Savannah, Inc. 
  • Shelley Francis Travis, DrPH, MPH, CHES, Vice President of Programs and Training, Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential
  • Jevon Gibson, MA, CEO, Center for Adolescent Male Development
  • Cindy Zeldin, MA, MPH, Executive Director, Georgians for a Healthy Future

Successful Health Policy Engagements

Room: HOPE 2

This panel presentation will include three organizations highlighting their health policy successes resulting from engagement with key strategic partnerships. The discussion will include how the partners developed a common agenda, leveraged resources, and lessons learned. The panelists will represent three different health policy arenas: Mental Health/Behavioral Health, Safety Net, and Children’s Health.

Facilitator:  Lisa Medellin, MSW, Senior Program Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • John Bartlett, MD, Senior Advisor, The Carter Center, Mental Health Program
  • Donna Looper, Executive Director, Georgia Charitable Care Network
  • Erica Fener Sitkoff, PhD, Policy Director, Voices for Georgia’s Children

12:45 - 1:45 PM Sessions and Boxed Lunch    

Meet the Grantmaker

Room: HOPE 3

In this session, Healthcare Georgia Foundation staff will review the Foundation’s grantmaking priorities and funding programs, online application process, and general application criteria. You will learn how to best communicate with the Foundation, and resources available to assist with documenting the results of your grant. Participants will also receive an overview of reporting and financial requirements. 

Facilitator: Gary D. Nelson, PhD, President, Healthcare Georgia Foundation


  • Lisa Medellin, MSW, Senior Program Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation
  • Javier Sanchez, Grants Manager, Healthcare Georgia Foundation
  • Mike Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer, Healthcare Georgia Foundation