ASTHO’s Year in Review: Successes and 2018 Outlook

December 21, 2017|4:27 p.m.| Michael Fraser, Executive Director, ASTHO

Michael Fraser2017 SUCCESSES

This year, ASTHO made great strides in strengthening and redefining its priorities, and scaling up organizational capacity, leadership development, and advocacy efforts. ASTHO's 75th anniversary also gave us an opportunity to celebrate public health all year long!

Organizational Growth and Performance

ASTHO recruited new talent to support its work across the organization and engage staff and members through improved technology. We also realigned work functions to better connect teams, supported staff leadership development activities, and revised the performance appraisal process. Meanwhile, ASTHO’s fiscal health remains strong, with solid processes and procedures in place to manage grants, contracts, and fiscal operations.

ASTHO’s 75th Anniversary Campaign

ASTHO’s 75th anniversary was a great way to celebrate members, alumni, staff, and other state and territorial public health leaders and partners. The #75ways campaign demonstrated the impact of state and territorial public health and provided an opportunity for ASTHO to demonstrate its renewed and innovative approach to communications, public relations, and government affairs. It also gave ASTHO an opportunity to coalesce and make the organization’s work visible to a broad audience through social media and key events throughout the year. A complete recap of ASTHO’s 75th anniversary can be found here.

ASTHO Leadership Institute

After 18 years of success with ASTHO’s State Health Leadership Initiative (SHLI), we redesigned the program and launched the new ASTHO Leadership Institute (ALI). Feedback from our inaugural cohort indicates that the new program continues to leverage SHLI’s successes and benefits, with new enhancements and learning that will help propel state and territorial health leaders in their current positions and beyond.

New ASTHO Vision, Mission, and Strategic Priorities

A key success from 2017 came late in the year and, with approval from the board of directors, ASTHO finalized its 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. Equipped with a clear description of what ASTHO aims to do, staff can now work to operationalize the “how,” carrying out work with existing resources and identifying opportunities to support new work. An overview of the plan can be found here.

A Robust Offering of Capacity Building Support and Technical Assistance

ASTHO continues to be a key partner in building the capacity of state and territorial health officials and their leadership teams. Our work in accreditation, performance improvement, preparedness, environment health and health security, opioids and other community health topics, health system transformation and population health, as well health equity, public health informatics, workforce development, and research and evaluation, all contributed to improving and promoting health in all communities. The challenge in 2018? Aligning this work around ASTHO’s new strategic goals and working with funding partners to support it.

Successful Advocacy Work in Washington and Across the Nation

ASTHO’s advocacy capacity increased tremendously in 2017, and our new federal legislative agenda will drive us even further in 2018. The work of our government affairs team has put state and territorial public health interests on Capitol Hill’s radar, helping our members engage and communicate with Congress in new ways. It was a year of defense and we played it well!


With potentially 36 gubernatorial transitions on the horizon in 2018, next year may bring several changes, but also many opportunities to sustain ASTHO’s momentum and success. Here are a few things we are most excited about.

Leadership Development and the ALI

Next year, ASTHO will continue to focus on leadership development as the new ALI program matures and we complete a full cycle with our year-one cohort. ASTHO is excited to plan for new S/THO engagement with ALI in 2018 and beyond.

Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Activities

The new year may be a time of transition for ASTHO and our members. Nevertheless, we look forward to a new cooperative agreement proposal in 2018, with many opportunities to engage state and territorial health agencies in the work of capacity building and technical assistance. While we do not currently have specifics on what to expect in the new proposal, we are excited to bring past experiences and new ideas to the proposal, which we believe will be prepared sometime this spring.

22 Percent by 2022 and Continued Advocacy for State and Territorial Health Agencies

Next year, we will see the development of a new “22 by 22” campaign, with the aim of focusing our public health advocacy in Washington, D.C. The campaign refers to the goal of increasing CDC’s budget 22 percent by 2022—a five-year goal that we think is both obtainable and aspirational. Look for this campaign and other advocacy work in support of state and territorial public health programs. Things to watch? The Prevention and Public Health Fund. A cloudy past and uncertain future continues to plague this significant investment in federal, state, and territorial public health agencies.

Growth of ASTHO Online Communities

We are introducing several new opportunities to engage in conversations and exchanges within the ASTHO community. Our new platform will officially launch on Jan. 9, with an open forum for discussion, virtual conversation, and exchange with all involved in state and territorial public health. As the system rolls out, look for additional online communities to develop around specific groups (such as S/THOs) and other interest areas.

Continued Investment in ASTHO’s Staff Team and Infrastructure

In 2018, we will continue to build on the improvements made by ASTHO’s organizational performance and staff development team, including the introduction of a new salary system, enhanced staff development planning based on updated position descriptions with clear staff competencies, and continued opportunities for ASTHO staff to learn and grow. This work is important and will contribute to our continued success in the years to come.

Of course, I could share a lot more about what ASTHO accomplished in 2017 and what we look forward to in 2018 and beyond. As I reflect, I am reminded of the 17 S/THO transitions that have taken place since I started at ASTHO. I appreciate the contributions of all our members, including our alumni, senior deputies, and other peer networks. Thank you for a great year. I wish all of you a happy holiday and a healthy 2018!