As part of fulfilling its mission as the voice of local health departments, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments, named Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of Health of Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, its Advocate of the Year. This award recognizes outstanding accomplishments related to advocacy and outreach to members of Congress to create better health policy outcomes. Dr. Chen received the award the organization’s 2019 Annual Convention in Orlando.
“Our members of Congress rely on us to understand local public health efforts, data, and emerging issues,” said Dr. Chen. “We are committed to collaborating with them to make sure federal programs and policies keep our residents and communities healthy and safe.”
“Lawmakers look to local leaders to inform their work—and public health policy and funding decisions are no exception,” said NACCHO’s chief executive officer Lori Tremmel Freeman, MBA. “A successful advocate develops meaningful relationships with members of Congress and their staffs and becomes a trusted messenger and resource on public health matters. We applaud the work of Dr. Chen and his team at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department who have done just that to be a strong advocate for the policies and resources local health departments need to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Dr. Chen and his staff at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department have worked tirelessly to develop the relationships and structures to effectively advocate for public health issues. Over the past 10 years, he has advanced personal relationships with district and congressional staff, regardless of party affiliation, who respond to his messages, reach out to seek input, and arrange meet with his health department when they are in the district. He similarly has developed relationships with NACCHO to leverage national public health efforts.
In addition, Dr. Chen has instituted a culture of advocacy in his health department by tracking federal policy issues, developing annual summaries of federal public health priorities, and a developing a suite of communications tools for effectively delivering and responding to messages.
He has also worked to forge personal relationships with Congressional staff and elected officials, participating with Senator Patty Murray for a roundtable on public health emergency preparedness and inviting staff to visit the health department and learn about their work firsthand.