How We Lost the Vote But Won the Day, The Story of the 2013 Portland Pro-Fluoride Campaign

A group of tooth emojis holding picket signs.

In 2013, a coalition of funders, community-led nonprofits, advisors and other allies came together to campaign for water fluoridation in Portland, OR. Although the ballot initiative did not pass, the campaign succeeded in helping community-based organizations build capacity for civic engagement. In this article, we share our experiences from the campaign, the obstacles we encountered and our lessons learned.

Oregon Minimum Wage, Boiled Down

Current Minimum Wage

$9.25 an hour

Cost of Living

That depends on who you ask. According to the Economic Policy Institute's 2014 Family Budget Calculator, a living wage for a family of four ranges between $14/hour and $17/hour, depending on the county. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates a "rental wage" between $13/hour and $18/hour in order for a family to afford rent on a two-bedroom home. And the University of Washington's 2014 Self Sufficiency Standard suggests a living wage between $9/hour and $16/hour for a family of four.

There are two coalitions advocating for a higher minimum wage in 2016.

Raise the Wage Oregon proposes a state minimum wage of at least $13.50/hour, implemented by 2019. They specifically require that the legislation include farmworkers and restaurant workers. They also want to change the rules so that Oregon localities can set a higher minimum wage than the state minimum wage. (For instance, the City of Portland could set a $15/hour minimum wage, on top of the state baseline of $13.50/hour.)

15 Now Oregon demands a $15/hour minimum wage throughout the state, implemented by 2019.

Both coalitions hope that the February 2016 legislative session will resolve the issue. If not, though, both coalitions are working on gathering 10,000 signatures each so that they can qualify for the ballot measure titling process for November 2016.

Where does Northwest Health Foundation stand on the issue?

About a third of all jobs in Oregon pay less than $13.00 per hour, which for most Oregon families is not enough to pay for basic needs like housing, transportation, food and child care. We also know that costs to live in Oregon depend on where you live in the state, and that small, rural economies aren't the same as large, urban economies. 

Before we support any one approach to raising the minimum wage, we want to understand the issues better. We joined with North Star Civic Foundation to have conversations with communities throughout Oregon last week, and we're looking at all kinds of data as well. Keep an eye on this blog; we’ll report what we learn here in early November.


Upcoming Conferences, October-November 2015


Oral Health in the New Age of Aging | October 2

Perspectives on epigenetics, gerontology and chronic disease. Hosted by Oregon Oral Health Coalition in Portland, OR.


Black Parenting Symposium | October 3

We are the village. Hosted by Black Parent Initiative at Warner Pacific College.


School Health Conference | October 8-9

Creating cultures of wellness. Hosted by Oregon School-Based Health Alliance in Portland, OR.


9th International Black Midwives and Healers Conference | October 9-11

Honoring our past, embracing our future. Hosted by International Center for Traditional Childbearing in Portland, OR.


Social Capital Research to Action Symposium | October 21

Increasing social capital to improve the health and well-being of our communities. Hosted by Institute for Sustainable Solutions and Center for Public Health Studies at Portland State University in Portland, OR.


RE: Conference | October 29-30

RE: Conference is for anyone with a mind for expanding opportunity in Oregon. Hosted by Neighborhood Partnerships in Salem, OR.


Oregon Public Health Association Conference & Meeting | October 12-13

Where will public health in our state go next? Hosted by the Oregon Public Health Association in Corvallis, Oregon.


CCO Tech & Data Conference | November 10

The changing needs of technology and data for successful coordinated care transformation. Hosted by CCO Oregon in Salem, Oregon.


Pathways to Health Equity | November 16

Success means getting there together. Hosted by the Oregon Health Authority Office of Equity and Inclusion in Portland, Oregon.


Coordinated Care Model Summit | November 17

Share outcomes and lessons learned, and inspire future innovation in Oregon. Hosted by the Oregon Health Authority Transformation Center in Portland, OR.


Behavioral Health System Town Halls |October 2 & 7; November 4, 9 & 20

This one's not technically a conference, but we still think it's important for you all to know about. Oregon Health Authority is seeking input from adolescents, adults and families who have had difficulties accessing mental health and substance use disorder treatment in Oregon.


Let us know if we're missing a conference! Comment below or email

Q&A with one of our summer interns, Viktoria Perekurenko

Photo portrait of Viktoria.

Q. What have you learned from your internship at Northwest Health Foundation?

A. I have learned so many things from my internship! The biggest thing is that there is so much community health work going on in our region. It was great to learn about it in a classroom setting at PSU, but way more amazing to actually see that work in action and see how so many people can come together to create healthier communities. 

Q. What is your favorite memory from your time at NWHF?

A. My favorite memory from my time here was being able to go on site visits with Jen and Mike. It was so great to actually go into communities and see the amazing work that they are doing and see communities advocate for themselves. I was so encouraged to see that there were even groups in my own community who were working together to make our community better and healthier.

Q. What projects did you work on while you were at NWHF?

A. While I was here, the main project I worked on involved creating a database that included all community health-related contacts in the region we serve. My main focus was Southwest Washington, and I looked for parent-teacher associations, religious groups, early learning hubs, schools, districts, county leadership, medical facilities and anyone remotely related to community health... Let's just say I did a lot of Googling!

Q. What are your next steps after leaving NWHF?

A. After leaving NWHF, I plan on doing some rigorous job searching. My main goal is to figure out which aspects of community health interest me most and see how I can get involved in those areas. 

Q. As a Clark County resident, what do you love about Southwest Washington? What makes SW WA special?

A. I absolutely love SW WA (especially Vancouver!) I love the many trails there are to walk and bike, as well as amazing local food, markets and coffee shops. I love the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site because it is very beautiful and often has interesting events. I love that it is near a body of water and has accessibility to many recreational activities. I also really love that even though it isn't technically a small town, it still feels like one, and feels like one big community.

Q. As a recent college graduate, what is the weirdest thing about being out of school?

A. The weirdest thing about being out of school is having free evenings and actually being able to take Sunday naps, because there is no homework! It's also strange to see my friends get ready to go back to school and knowing that I don't have to. 

Q. If you could be on any game show, what game show would you choose? 

A. If I could be on any show, I think I would pick the Amazing Race, because it would be fascinating to travel to so many awesome places and learn to do so many cool things from other cultures. 

Thank you to Viktoria (and our other summer intern, Nick) for your invaluable contributions to NWHF this summer! We definitely appreciate all of the Googling you did!

Mini-grant Mondays, back by popular demand!

We had such success with our first month of mini-grants in July that we have decided to continue offering them.

From here on out, the first Monday of every month will be a Mini-grant Monday!

Here are the rules:

What are Mini-grant Mondays?

On the first Monday of every month, Northwest Health Foundation will announce the winner of a mini-grant worth $100 on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

How can my organization enter?

Follow Northwest Health Foundation on Facebook and/or Twitter. All you have to do to enter is either (1) tell us what your organization will use the money for by commenting on our monthly Mini-grant Monday Facebook post, or (2) tell us what your organization will use the money for by tweeting to @northwesthealth with the hashtag #minigrantmonday.

We will announce our winners at the end of the day on the first Monday of every month.

What can my organization do with the money?

Anything you want! You could pay for transportation to an event or advocacy day at the capitol. You could compensate community members for time spent participating in a focus group or advisory board. You could offer childcare at a community organizing meeting or event. You could buy flip charts, colored markers or other office supplies. tell us. The sky is the limit! (And nonprofit tax laws, of course.)

Check out the first four winners for inspiration.

How will Northwest Health Foundation choose the winners?

We will select winners based on (1) how well your organization fits our guiding principles and commitment to equity and (2) your plan for spending the mini-grant.

Anything else I need to know?

You must be a registered nonprofit organization (501(c)3 or 501(c)4) working with communities in Oregon or Southwest Washington to enter. Mini-grants will be awarded in the form of Visa gift cards.


This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook or Twitter.



Q&A with NWHF Board Member, Andrea Miller

Photo portrait of Andrea Miller.

Q. What is a day like in the life of Andrea Miller?

A. Every day I get to meet new people, work on some of the most pressing issues in Oregon, and put into practice my values of equity and justice for all. I consider myself pretty lucky. This kind of work, however, is non-stop, and the hours can be erratic—working on the weekends and evenings. The key to my daily productivity and sustainability in this work is the 30 to 45 minutes I take in the morning to exercise. It helps to clear my head and get me ready to take on the day.

Q. What would you consider the most important bills that passed in the 2015 legislative session?

A. So many important bills passed in the 2015 legislative session, it's hard for me to label one as "the most important." From where I sit as the director of Causa, I will say that there are several bills that will have a significant impact on communities of color. One of those is the Paid Sick Days bill, which will allow nearly half a million Oregonians to earn sick days so that they can take a day off of work to care for a sick child or themselves without having to miss a day of pay. Considering that 60% of Latino workers did not have access to one paid sick day before this bill, this is monumental. The other one is the End Profiling bill, which bans the practice of profiling as a law enforcement tactic. Oregon will soon shift to community policing, a more effective public safety strategy that fosters trust between law enforcement officers and communities.  People in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are targeted the most, leading to higher arrest and conviction rates among people of color generally—and African-Americans specifically. The End Profiling bill is a step in the right direction, as local communities across the nation struggle with the correlation between police violence and communities of color.

Q. What are Causa's goals this year, and how are you working to meet them?

A. (1) Make progress on statewide policies that impact Latino families during the legislative session. (2) Defend against proposed statewide policies that don’t support equity for all Oregonians. (3) Support immigrants through the processes of naturalization and deferred action status and serve as a resource hub for immigrant families seeking relief.

So how've we done so far?

(1) During the legislative session, 2 out of 5 bills on Causa’s legislative agenda became law. Our strategy to make that happen was two-fold: train and mobilize people directly impacted by the issue to voice their support for the bill, and participate in strong coalitions that support our priority bills. The coalitions we were a part of included the Oregon Health Equity Alliance and the Fair Shot Coalition, both of which had significant wins last session.

(2) The same group that put Measure 88 on the ballot has filed two initiative petitions that will negatively impact communities of color. Causa and our partners have convened a broad coalition to proactively counteract the effort to qualify two ballot measures for the 2016 election.

(3) Causa holds naturalization and DACA workshops to help individuals fill out their application free of cost or at a low-cost with attorney assistance. We’ve also launched a bilingual website and Facebook page called Oregon Immigration Resource to widely distribute resources, updates, and information about administrative relief and other immigration programs.

Q. What are next steps for immigration reform since DAPA passed?

A. Unfortunately, we can’t turn our attention away from the immigration administrative relief that Obama made possible just yet. The executive action is being challenged in the courts by a group of states that disagree with Obama’s administrative changes. Causa and our national partners are doing all we can to advocate for the deferred action programs to move forward so that the immigrant parents of U.S. born children can apply for protection from deportation, work authorization and, in Oregon, get a driver license. Ultimately, we’ll keep advocating for Congressional action on immigration reform long-term, but first we need to secure the small victory that was made in 2015 with the expansion of the deferred action program.

Q. How does your role on the NWHF board compliment your work at Causa, and vice versa?

A. The relationships I’ve built through Causa, and my experience as a past [NWHF] grantee, inform my decision making with the Community Engagement Committee at NWHF. I’m in a very privileged position where I both get to be part of philanthropy that supports equity initiatives and a practitioner of on-the-ground advocacy and organizing work. I get to see both the 1,000-foot level and the 10-foot level of this larger work, which sharpens my abilities both at Causa and NWHF.

Q. How do you identify with NWHF's guiding values and equity priorities?

A. One of NWHF’s guiding principles I identify with most is, “Promoting upstream, systemic change through advocacy is often the most effective strategy for improving community health.” One of the reasons I started working at Causa is because I saw advocacy and policy change as a way to make big and long lasting impact for Oregon families. NWHF invests in organizations that seek systemic change, and that's a very intentional and long-term commitment. It can be difficult to see the results of your work when we’re talking about system change, but it pays off in the long run by closing the gap on health, education, economic and other disparities among Oregon’s diverse communities.

Q. What drew you to Oregon?

A. I was born in Eugene and raised in Salem, Oregon. While I’ve grown up here, I’ve chosen to make Oregon my home and start a career here. Growing up, there were so many pressures to leave and explore new states and cities, and to this day I still get asked why I never left or if I have plans to leave in the future. I love Oregon—our trees, our people, our communities. Oregon and the leaders that live here have allowed me so many opportunities to grow in my professional and personal life. I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else.

Q. What is your favorite place in the U.S. outside of Oregon?

A. Maui, Hawaii. There are obvious reasons why that would be the case for nearly anyone—the gorgeous beaches, the weather. But Maui is my favorite place in the U.S. besides Oregon because it is my second home. My family has lived in Hawaii for five generations. My grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles and cousins all live there. I try to visit every other year. I’m very lucky to have roots in such a beautiful part of our country.

What can an organization do with $100?

In July, we asked Oregon and SW Washington nonprofits, "What could your organization do with $100?" We received answers from 50 nonprofits, suggesting everything from buying new gardening tools for a school garden, to providing healthy snacks for program participants, to creating an educational video about their services, and lots in between. This is a testament to the amazing and varied work that is happening in our region!

To see the full list of requests, check out the comments on our Facebook page or search #minigrantmonday on Twitter.

Sadly, we could only select four Mini-Grant Monday winners in the end. And, here they are...

*drum roll, please*

Microenterprise Services of Oregon seeks to improve the economic opportunities of underserved individuals through empowerment, education, and entrepreneurship for the benefit of the greater community. 

"Proof Positive: MESO needs a whiteboard! improve communications, impact, efficiency #minigrantmonday"


Southern Oregon Early Learning Services is developing a regional approach to increasing positive outcomes for children and their families.

"Southern oregon early learning services would use it to support parent-led conferences with the Parent Advisory Council!"


OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon builds power for environmental justice and civil rights in our communities.

"OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon could use $100 to support our NEW youth organizing program called Youth Environmental Justice Alliance, where youth are organizing a creative arts event to celebrate you stories and histories, and share visions for a better future."


Raphael House of Portland is a multi-faceted domestic violence agency dedicated to ending intimate partner violence for good.

We'd love to purchase 2 new car seats for families at @RaphaelHouse #Safetyforeveryone #supportSurvivors #minigrantmonday"


Thank you to everyone who participated! We love learning more about all of the nonprofits in our region! 

To keep up to date on future opportunities, sign up for our email list.

Q&A with PIN Program Officer, Renée Jensen Reinhardt

Renée with a  bike on a wooden walkway surrounded by trees.

June is Renée's last month with Northwest Health Foundation. She has been here since 2006, and we will miss her very much! Best wishes for your future, Renée!

Q. How did you end up at NWHF?

A. What attracted me to NWHF was the organization's mission to advance, support and promote health in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Prior to joining the Foundation, I worked at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization for 11 years, which provides a variety of social services for the refugee and immigrant community.

Health is an important aspect of creating thriving communities, and working at NWHF seemed like the next step in my efforts to create healthy opportunities, albeit in a completely different way. I went from working at a nonprofit organization providing necessary direct services for the community to collaborating with foundations, academia and nurse organizations on improving the quality of health services.


Q. What is the most important thing that you have learned since you have been here?

A. How important collaboration and relationship building are in order to move the needle. This was evident in the work of the Foundation and in Partners Investing in Nursing's Future (PIN). Practicing these skills, and trust building, are invaluable.

I also learned that it takes a LONG time for warm water to reach the third floor in our office building. So plan ahead if you're taking a shower after you workout at lunch. ;)

Q. What has been the biggest change, to you or the organization, in your years here?

A. The number of wrinkles I have now!

But regarding NWHF, I've been here for over nine years, and there have been a number of big changes over the years. NWHF's move to Old Town/Chinatown, the creation of the Aschenbrener Center for Philanthropy, transition to a new CEO, and the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative. These are all big changes aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Q. What will you miss most about NWHF and PIN?

A. Well, let's see. Is it the coffee? The traveling? The practical jokes? These will all be missed. But most of all, I will miss the people. I had the pleasure to work with some very talented, fun and caring individuals within the staff and the national PIN program. Whether they were in Oregon, the Marshall Islands, or on the East Coast, there are an amazing number of people out there working to create better health in our communities.

Q. What are your hopes for the future?

A. To see my son grow up into a loving, giving, happy and healthy human being. I also have hope that each person recognizes that they have the opportunity to create a ripple effect of kindness and caring that can change the world, even if it seems insignificant at the time.

Bonus Questions:

Q. What is your favorite thing about Oregon summers?

A. Being outside and seeing so many people venturing out to play, walk and visit. The odds of running into your neighbors definitely go up when the sun comes out!

Q. What did you do during summer vacation when you were a kid?

A. I grew up in Eastern Oregon, and summer vacation was usually one of two things: driving around Oregon or Washington to visit family or going camping. It was a matter of being on your best behavior in a car for four to eight hours of driving through the Gorge in 90+ degrees with no AC, or running wild and getting dirty on the river banks in the mountains. Hmmm...

Q. What is your favorite cartoon character?

A. There are so many! Jimmy Neutron comes to mind. But from my youth, Underdog. I still have the Taco Time collectable glass in a box somewhere.


For more information about PIN, visit the PIN website.

Mini-grant Mondays

What are Mini-grant Mondays?

Every Monday in July Northwest Health Foundation will announce the winner of a mini-grant worth $100 on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

How can my organization enter?

Follow Northwest Health Foundation on Facebook and/or Twitter. On July 1st we will announce the beginning of the contest. All you have to do to enter is either (1) tell us what your organization will use the money for by commenting on our weekly Mini-grant Monday Facebook post, or (2) tell us what your organization will use the money for by tweeting to @northwesthealth with the hashtag #minigrantmonday.

We will announce our winners at the end of the day on Monday July 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th.

What can my organization do with the money?

Anything you want! You could pay for transportation to an event or advocacy day at the capitol. You could compensate community members for time spent participating in a focus group or advisory board. You could offer childcare at a community organizing meeting or event. You could buy flip charts, colored markers or other office supplies. tell us. The sky is the limit! (And nonprofit tax laws, of course.)

How will Northwest Health Foundation choose the winners?

We will select winners based on (1) how well your organization fits our guiding principles and commitment to equity and (2) your plan for spending the mini-grant.

Anything else I need to know?

You must be a registered nonprofit organization (501(c)3 or 501(c)4) working with communities in Oregon or Southwest Washington to enter. Mini-grants will be awarded in the form of Visa gift cards.


This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook or Twitter.


Suk Rhee Joins the 100 Million Healthier Lives Initiative

An illustration of the complex factors that affect the health of one patient.

An illustration of the complex factors that affect the health of one patient.

We are proud to share that NWHF’s Vice President of Strategy & Community Partnership Suk Rhee has joined the Leadership Team of 100 Million Healthier Lives.

100 Million Healthier Lives joins patients, communities, health care systems, public health and other organizations to transform the way the world thinks and acts to improve health. They are committed to 100 million people living healthier lives by 2020.

The collaborative shares many of NWHF’s values and resonates strongly with our Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative. 100 Million Healthier Lives and NWHF both prioritize addressing equity gaps, as well as helping all kids get a healthy start in life. We both believe that health is mental, physical, social and spiritual. And we are both committed to community-based solutions.

100 Million Healthier Lives’ first initiative is SCALE (Spreading Community Accelerators Through Learning and Evaluation), a two-year initiative supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that will help communities across the U.S. develop capability to improve health and spread effective community-driven approaches to build a Culture of Health.

While Suk looks forward to being exposed to the great thinkers involved with 100 Million Healthier Lives, she is even more excited to tell the world about the amazing work Oregon and Southwest Washington communities are already doing. 



Q&A with our Executive Support & Board Relations Coordinator, Eduardo Moreno

Q. How did you wind up at Northwest Health Foundation?

A. Before coming to NWHF, I spent over five years working as a mentor coordinator for culturally specific and extended day programs at several schools in Portland. The summer of 2012, I learned that a community leader and someone I looked up to (Nichole June Maher) would be leaving the NAYA Family Center to serve as president of NWHF. At that time, I didn't know what NWHF did exactly, but I was very familiar with Nichole's work in the community via the JustPortland Steering Committee and NAYA. Before she started at NWHF, Nichole and I had several conversations about the many community organizations NWHF partnered with and the very exciting world of grant making. A month after Nichole started here, I decided to apply for the Board/Exec Support position, because I had a good feeling that this organization would maximize all of my talents and broaden my knowledge of community-based organizations across the state... and, boy, was I right!

Q. What is a typical day like in the life of Eddie?

A. First forty minutes of my day: Wake up. Get ready. Find a Car2Go. First ten minutes at work: Say good morning to Lalin. Grab a cup of coffee. Log in to my computer... and that's about the only consistency I have in my daily life. I'm never bored, and I love having every day look absolutely different.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about Oregon Active Schools and the role you play in that project?

A. A little… hmmm… well there are many moving parts, but, in general, we have a partnership with Nike and Kaiser Permanente Northwest. The partnership created 102 focused grants to elementary schools in Oregon and promotes the Let's Move! Active Schools campaign. I love the Oregon Active Schools partnership not only because I get to work with a great team from Nike and KPNW, but because my days are spent reconnecting with my education peeps. I know that resource-constrained schools will benefit from this opportunity to get kids moving for at least 60 minutes a day before, during and after school. I have conversations with PE specialists, principals and superintendents about the $3000 grants to promote physical activity in their schools. No one has turned us away to date. I collect their stories, share best practices and connect schools to other funding opportunities.

Q. How does Oregon Active Schools fit into the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative?

A. Oregon Active Schools fits into HB+HC for many reasons, but, simply put, we want to inspire a lifelong love of movement and bring the many benefits of physical activity to every child in Oregon. We know that active kids do better. They are healthier, and they perform better academically. Having healthier active students will contribute to our community’s overall health.

Q. What do you love about Oregon & SW Washington?

A. Too many things to list, but I'll go with how much I love our beautiful scenery. The trees, rivers, mountains, etc. are very unique to our region.

Q. What would you change?

A. The cost of a plane ticket to San Diego! I wish it was less expensive so I could visit my family and friends more often, or fly them up here more often.

Q. What is your favorite day of the week and why?

A. Tuesday, because I get together with my best friend (we call it binner), and we try out new restaurants/bars or revisit our favorite places.

Q. If you could recommend any musical artist to the readers of this Q&A, what would you recommend?

A. I don't have one artist in particular, but I highly recommend that everyone play music while they cook. Every dish I make is inspired by whatever Pandora station I am feeling that day, and I've been told it is reflected in my cooking. If you decide to try this, make sure to invite me over for dinner. I'll bring the wine!

Video: Investing Against Inequities

City Club of Portland Friday Forum: Investing Against Inequities - What's a funder to do?

Presented on April 10, 2015

Moderator: Nichole June Maher, President & CEO of Northwest Health Foundation

Panelists: Sharon Gary-Smith, Executive Director at MRG Foundation; Keith Thomajan, President & CEO of United Way of Columbia-Willamette; Kevin Walker, President & CEO of Northwest Area Foundation and Max Williams, President & CEO of Oregon Community Foundation 

Request for Ideas & PROPOSALS: Advocacy Training

We want to hear from you about how we can encourage regular trainings that build civic engagement and advocacy for community members and organizations. We are asking you to submit your ideas by May 4, 2014. We'll select 1-2 of your ideas and work with you to make them reality.

Read More

Announcing our 2015 Oregon Youth Photo Contest Winners

It's Public Health Week! And you know what that means... Time to announce our Oregon Youth Photo Contest winners!

Northwest Health Foundation and the Oregon Health Authority could not have been more pleased with the 95 submissions we received this year from youth across the state of Oregon. The participants did an amazing job capturing this year's theme: My Community Makes Me Better! You can see the twenty finalists and first, second and third place winners here. Their photos will be displayed in the Oregon Health Authority lobby in Portland all day Thursday, and we hope you'll take the time to check them out.

A special congratulations to our top three, Justyce Chaney, Jenny Kim and Gladys Rodriguez! And thank you to all of our educators and their students for participating!

Video: NWHF Asks the Communities

Our HB+HC Organizing Grant Communities answered these questions: What does health mean to you? What does community capacity mean to you? How can we help communities improve health?

Watch the video to find out how they answered.

Q&A with NWHF Board Member, Phil Wu

Phil participated in our first ever Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Gathering on March 9, 10 and 11 at Kahneeta Resort & Spa in Warm Springs, OR. Here's what he thought about it:

Q. What did you takeaway from the HB+HC Organizing Grant Communities Gathering in March?

A. We had twenty-five very diverse communities from all parts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, and every community identified and expressed a unique challenge they intend to meet with passion, commitment and leadership. For me, the Gathering highlighted the fact that for many communities the HB+HC framework (or health compass) is a different way of thinking about their work, and they are just at the beginning of the process. Not all of their thoughts have crystallized, nor can they answer all of the questions posed by the compass.

Q. Who did you meet at the Gathering?

A. It was a whirlwind! I wish I could remember every person and conversation that I experienced during the two days, but this won't be possible. For me, it was great to see some names and faces from organizations that I already know. On the other hand, meeting smart, thoughtful and dedicated people from across the state was inspirational.

Q. What stories did you hear that stuck in your mind?

A. While every story is significant, hearing the voices of youth expressed through the Momentum Alliance always tugs at my heart!

Q. What was the most impactful part of the Gathering for you?

A. For me, two parts: First, the small group exercise at the beginning of the Gathering during which tables of five or six grappled with a "blank" HB+HC health compass was telling! For many at that point there were more questions than answers, and this provoked significant thought! Second, I thought the concept of "power" was identified and effectively framed throughout the Gathering.

Q. What was your favorite part of the Gathering?

A. Again, two parts: First, the four-minute stories introducing each community were inspirational and fun! Second, I could have done nothing more during the two days than share food and have open-ended chats!

Q. What are you excited about for the future of the Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative?

A. For me what's most exciting is the building of capacity and "power" of the various communities almost regardless of the outcomes they achieve. And most importantly, a framework will have been created that will help continue the work beyond the Initiative itself.

And, bonus questions!

Q. What is a day like in the life of Phil Wu?

A. OMG! One day is never like the next! With my "semi-retired" status, my days are filled with activities that I truly WANT to do. These include my commitments to Northwest Health Foundation, Community Benefit at Kaiser Permanente and other community endeavors. I also always include time for swimming, walking and cycling, and I always think about great coffee, bread, beer and wine!

Q. What is your favorite cartoon character?

A. I used to draw a variation of Pig Pen: A curious character with a head completely covered in long, unkempt hair, big protruding hands and feet, and no body! This must be an alter ego.