A Tale of Two Coalitions April 27 – May 1, 2009

Discussion Announcement

Health literacy initiatives and coalitions are forming all over the country on small and large scales. List members have been very interested to receive advice and guidance on how to launch such a coalition, make them effective and keep them going. This discussion will bring some of that guidance to us all, as we hear from two coalitions who have good lessons to share.

Wisconsin and Missouri are both involved in ambitious statewide health literacy coalitions. Wisconsin's has been highly successful over its six-year journey. They have planned three health literacy summits; involved state health agencies, education institutions, insurers and media outlets in their efforts; and implemented regional projects to improve health literacy in their state. Missouri's coalition is newer, and has already created a resource database and funded a variety of community-based demonstration projects. They are also working to combine the expertise of other health literacy initiatives from around the country, and have collaborated with the Wisconsin team, among others.

These two coalitions represent different stages of existence, and also different basic strategies of formation. Wisconsin's initiative has been described as a "bottom up" approach, whereas Missouri's is more "top down". Michele Erikson, Executive Director of Wisconsin Literacy, and Arthur Culbert, Senior Advisor to the Missouri Foundation for Health, are the leaders of these coalitions. They will share with the list how they got started, how they are working through the challenges, how their different approaches work, and their visions for the future.

Guest Biography

Michele Erikson has been involved with adult literacy for the past 23 years from volunteer tutor, board member and president of Stateline Literacy Council (Beloit, WI) to Workforce Development Director, ESL Instructor (English as a Second Language) and Executive Director. In 2005 she began working for Wisconsin Literacy, Inc. as the Executive Director and is supporting, developing and advocating for literacy organizations statewide. Ms. Erikson currently serves on the Advisory Council to the Bureau of Migrant, Refugee and Labor Services that is part of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development. She has worked with the Hispanic Community in Rockford, Ill at La Voz Latina where she taught English and directed the Workforce Development Program. Ms. Erikson has extensive experience in leading community-based organizations through significant growth. She is a Beloit College graduate with a BA in Political Science and Modern Languages with concentration in French, Russian and Spanish.

Arthur Culbert, Ph.D., M.S. is the Interim Executive Director, Health Literacy Missouri, and serves as the Senior Advisor to the Missouri Foundation for Health in St. Louis, Missouri. (See www.mffh.org ) In this capacity, Dr. Culbert chairs the coordinating council and facilitates the collaboration of the development of Health Literacy Missouri, a state wide health literacy center. Prior to moving to St. Louis, Dr. Culbert spent 31 years as a faculty member and a dean at the Boston University schools of medicine and public health. Dr. Culbert has over 25 years of teaching experience in the fields of public health, medical sociology, and medical education. Throughout his career he has been a pioneer, an innovator, and a leader in the fields of public health and medical education. He was elected by his peers to serve as the National Chair for the Group on Student Affairs at the Association of American Medical Colleges. In the 1980s he designed, developed and implemented the Early Medical School Selection Program. In the early 1990s he authored Profile M.D. an electronic career advising program used by hundreds of medical students in medical schools through out the country. He writes a monthly guest column on health care for the St. Louis Business Journal, is an avid fitness enthusiast, gardener and a proponent of a balanced healthy life style.

Discussion Preparation

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