PHRASES: Public Health Reaching Across Sectors

Achieving health goals requires engagement by public health officials with partners in key sectors like education, housing, transportation, and business. When leaders in these sectors align with public health officials, action to improve our health is attainable. However, finding this alignment has proven challenging. Few public health professionals have received training or been helped to develop the skill of explaining the role of public health, why it matters, and how public health can be an effective partner with other sectors in achieving mutual goals. Cross-sector partnerships require: 1) effective messages, rooted in rigorous evidence, about how public health contributes to a shared agenda; 2) public health professionals trained in the communications skills necessary to deliver those messages; and 3) thought leaders from a multitude of sectors educated about the potential of public health to advance their own missions. Without a language that can be understood by others, it is difficult for public health officials to guide conversations that might lead to stronger cross-sector partnerships, attract a strong and diverse workforce, or build more enduring support for public health goals.

To help public health leaders effectively communicate the value of public health to potential partners, decision-makers and the public, the de Beaumont Foundation and the Aspen Institute are launching a new project, PHRASES: Public Health Reaching Across Sectors. PHRASES has a mission to improve the ability of public health officials to communicate the impact and value of their field to other sectors. and to foster cross-sector partnerships and alliances; generate sustainable support for public health problem-solving approaches; and make public health an attractive career choice.


PHRASES will:

  • Create a “go-to” easily accessible web resource that compiles and synthesizes high-quality published research that documents the ways in which public health provides value to other sectors, teeing them up to become our champions.
  • Partner with a high quality communications/media firm to Identify messages about public health that resonate within and across sectors.
  • Develop a toolkit for public health officials that ties the evidence for public health’s contributions across sectors to what is learned from the project’s message research and testing.
  • Conduct outreach and training to the public health community to ensure the vigorous and effective use of the project’s web resource and toolkit.

Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Former Health Commissioner of the City of New Orleans, and Soledad O’Brien, CEO of Starfish Media Group and Host of Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, will co-chair PHRASES’ Advisory Committee. Members of the Advisory Committee include:

  • John Auerbach, MBA, President and CEO, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH); Former Associate Director for Policy, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Former Commissioner of Public Health, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Raymond J. Baxter, PhD, Former Senior Vice President for Community Benefit, Research, and Health Policy, Kaiser Permanente; Board Member, CDC Foundation; Trustee, Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • Richard Berke, Executive Editor, STAT; Former Executive Editor, Politico; Former Reporter and Editor, New York Times
  • Gary M. Cohen, MBA, Executive Vice President and President, Global Health, BD; Board Member, CDC Foundation
  • John J. Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, FACOEM, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health
    • Jackie Judd, Journalist and Communications Consultant
  • Lawrence Wallack, DrPH, MPH, MSc, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; Distinguished Fellow, Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine; Former Dean, College of Urban and Public Affairs, Portland State University
  • Leana Wen, MD, MSc, Baltimore City Health Commissioner
  • Michelle A. Williams, ScD, Dean, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Read the press release.