Shaping systems and policies is critical to improving people’s health; and influencing health outcomes requires understanding the inner workings of policymaking. It is this principle that inspired my colleagues, Drs. Shelley Hearne, Keshia Pollack Porter, and I to write Policy Engagement, a field guide for public health practitioners on engaging in the policy process to advance health and equity. Released today as part of the Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice series, the book offers a toolkit of concrete, practical strategies for informing and influencing policymakers.

Through this book, we hope to bring a new perspective to how public health professionals can make a positive impact in their communities. Policy Engagement provides an expansive view of what advocacy can mean to different people, and in so doing, gives readers a roadmap of the many avenues through which they can engage in the policymaking process.

Having this knowledge is powerful, and I hope it inspires public health professionals and other readers to feel less helpless in our increasingly complicated world. I hope readers walk away believing they can have a real impact, because they can. Not everyone needs to testify before Congress to effect change. We demonstrate how to use the policy levers available to you in your community and through your networks to drive change. No matter what type of action you decide to take, we offer a range of options for engaging in policy that align with your values and strengths as well as stories of success to encourage you in your pursuits.

We are living through precarious times and in a world characterized by social, political, and environmental complexity we must be steadfast in advocating on behalf of public health. Collectively as a field, we have to be more audacious and take a stronger stance on the issues affecting health equity. Policy is political, and so we too must strive to be political, not partisan, in our efforts to uplift public health’s values.

While my co-authors and I approach policy from different angles, the diversity of our perspectives is reflected in the stories and insights that we share, adding a richness and holistic view of the various ways to engage in the policy space. The strategies we recommend are based on our unique lived experiences and what we’ve seen work.

Policy can be transformational, and the public health voice is needed now more than ever. Policy Engagement is designed to support you no matter where you are on your journey navigating the policy sphere. We want readers to become energized, encouraged, and equipped with the skills and confidence to engage in this space. Know that you belong in policymaking and that you can make a tremendous difference in public health.

Policy Engagement is the second volume in the Strategic Skills for Public Health Practice series and is now available for purchase from APHA Press. It is authored by Shelley Hearne, DrPH, MPH, director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy and the Deans Sommer and Klag Professor of the Practice in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Keshia M. Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH, Bloomberg Centennial Chair in the Department of Health Policy and Management and professor of health policy and management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Katrina S. Forrest, JD, co-executive director at CityHealth.

Learn more about the series here

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