Headshot of editor Emily Yu Communities are complex ecosystems, each supported by individuals who together represent a shared identity, culture, and history. And while every community may be different, they and their members are all connected by the desire to thrive — economically, culturally, and socially. As health champions, partners, practitioners, and leaders, each of us is in a unique position to support this goal through the lens of health equity. Key to our efforts must be engagement with and centering of communities.  

To help public health leaders engage with communities more effectively, APHA Press and the de Beaumont Foundation have published Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice: Community Engagement, a new book offering first-person stories, real-world examples, and valuable insights from community leaders and public health practitioners. Curated specifically for public health practitioners and those interested in supporting community health, the book’s chapters, guidance, and perspectives from the field will enhance readers’ understanding of community-centered design and equip them to support organizational practices that drive better health for all. 

Community engagement is the process and outcome of creating relationships with community to achieve long-term and sustainable change. It is a conscious decision to be collaborative to improve the health of a community. —James Bell III, Just Solutions LLC

As the editor of this book, I felt it important to not only center community voices throughout the piece, but to also ensure that we featured a variety of perspectives, including those not often represented in texts such as this. The stories shared here by more than a dozen contributors will help any public health practitioner reflect on their own role in working with communities and support more effective engagement. 

Community Engagement features: 

  • Community voices and perspectives on what working with and for the community means 
  • Insights into how residents and organizations can align for greater impact 
  • Frameworks to support and enhance one’s understanding and practice of community engagement 
  • Real-world stories spotlighting the process of engaging with community — including opportunities and challenges 

Community engagement is actively listening with an open heart and mindset by accept-ing the community members as they are; being transparent with your purpose; leaving behind all implicit and explicit bias, stereotypes; and seeing residents as individuals who love their communities. —Natasha Butler, Maternal Upstream Management

The first book to be published in the Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice series, Community Engagement is a valuable resource for those looking to meaningfully collaborate with community members to drive better health and well-being. The series aims to help public health professionals successfully meet contemporary challenges in community engagement and eight other skill areas identified by the National Consortium for Public Health Workforce Development: systems and strategic thinking; change management; effective communication; data-driven decision making; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion; resource management and finance; policy engagement; and cross-sectoral partnerships. 

By starting with community engagement and directing our efforts to focus on building power, capacity, and relationships among residents and those most affected by barriers to good health, we are laying the foundation for meaningful ways to help communities thrive.  

To purchase a copy of Community Engagement, visit APHA Press. 

Read the news release.

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