Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

Emerging Sage Leadership: Interview of Galen Ellis

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Second, in what ways do you believe you have most helped the organization?

I have most helped my organization by representing the health department in community partnerships. Two in particular come to mind. One is to carry public health beyond the four walls of the health department with community-based collaborative efforts. The second is developing a chronic disease prevention program with non-traditional partners, like non-profits, environmental groups, and transportation and agriculture.

The vision for chronic disease prevention is to see some impact on obesity, in particular, because it addresses quality of life and the need for a healthier community. We want to make an impact on the most vulnerable populations in the community and seek funding when we can. For example, we have been able to get a walkability grant that focuses on low income residents. It was for $375,000, and then we attracted another $850,000 for infrastructure development. It was a “we” because of the program’s collaborative nature. I knew it was possible to attract that kind of funding, so I facilitated the process of bringing together people to create a common vision. Even after the funding ends, a culture remains in these organizations to help people recognize there are other resources in our community. For example, after I had moved here I found some phenomenal assets I had never seen in other communities in which I have lived and worked. Yes, I had my own value to add, but the values that support community health and wellness here enable Nevada County to achieve more in one year than urban communities I’ve worked in could achieve in three-five years.

Third, as you think back over your involvement in the organization, what roadblocks have been most challenging?

They are all internal to the health department. The external frustrations of a few difficult personalities have been nothing compared to the internal challenges of working in a large bureaucracy. This never affected external program outcomes, but it has impacted me. I started to feel burned-out.

Fourth, what experiences within the organization have given you the most meaning and satisfaction?

Being out in the community and seeing the collective creativity, and then the results of that creativity, has given me the most meaning and satisfaction. Another source of satisfaction is working with those leaders that recognize and appreciate diverse community assets and then tap into them.

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