2019 Iowa Governor's Conference on Public Health
By: Dr. Jeremy Whitaker, IPHA President-Elect
With over 500 attendees, the 2019 Governor’s Conference on Public Health was one of the best attended in recent years. Keynote speakers Dr. Pam Aaltonen (American Public Health Association President), Andy Wessel (Community Health Planner with Douglas County Health Department in Omaha), and Des Moines oncologist and philanthropist Dr. Richard Deming left a huge impression on conference attendees. Those who saw Dr. Deming’s closing keynote about taking a group of cancer survivors across the world to the Mt. Everest base camp could not help but to be inspired.
That said, the heart of the conference is drawing on our local and collective public health community’s experience. Conference Co-Chair and Cerro Gordo Deputy Director Kara Vogelson remarked on the importance of connecting with other public health professionals:
In the Micropolitan Health session, I had the opportunity for small group discussion with attendees from across Iowa and Missouri. Though our communities are different, we had similar economic, housing, and health concerns and in our discussion, we shared several ideas for programs and services that may work in each of our communities. Having another perspective and fresh ideas is one of the best take-aways from this conference.
The IGCPH had much to offer in addition to quality educational sessions. "It was great learning about the variety of projects happening in the public health field in Iowa. I also enjoyed seeing so many colleagues from my work over the years!” said Julie Hibben from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Kelly Sparks, one of the planners for the conference said “the IGCPH planning partners put together some fantastic content and worked to create opportunities for attendees to network with others in the public health field. It was our hope that people left the conference ready to put new operations and collaborations into practice and we look forward to furthering this during the 2020 conference."
The dust has barely settled from the 2019 conference, but planning for next year’s conference is already underway. The planning committee is discussing the theme for 2020, which will in turn determine the keynote speakers and influence abstract selection.
Did you fill out a conference evaluation? If so, we heard you! If there was a take-away for improving next year’s conference, it would be improving conference atmosphere. “We have great speakers and a facility that people really like. However, I think as a planning committee we can try to lighten the mood and encourage more networking during our breaks” said Dr. Jeremy Whitaker from IPHA. He, along with Dr. Don Simmons from IEHA, will be next year’s conference co-chairs. The 2020 Iowa Governor’s Conference on Public Health will be April 7-8, 2020 at the Holiday Inn Des Moines – Airport Conference Center.