January 2020 Message from the Director

January 31, 2020 Posted by AHW Endowment


As we enter a new year, I want to take a moment to reflect on 2019 and look forward to what AHW has planned for 2020.

Since joining AHW as director in September, I have had the wonderful opportunity to travel throughout Wisconsin and meet with many of our partners to listen to what they see as our greatest health challenges. So far, I’ve visited 31 counties, crossing the state to Ashland, Eau Claire, and Kenosha while also crisscrossing the MCW campus to meet the incredible folks in our MCW departments and centers who share our passion for improving health statewide. I’ve enjoyed learning from those leading incredible health improvement efforts, and I’ve heard story after story of what AHW funding means to projects across Wisconsin. I am so inspired by both the work in progress and what lies ahead.

In between scheduled meetings, I’ve enjoyed a few Wisconsin traditions: Cheese, cheese, and more delicious cheese, and that great tradition of getting stuck in the snow. As I drove home in early December along State Road 93 in Trempealeau County, I found myself stuck in a two-foot snowbank and in need of a tow. Luckily, the caretaker of a nearby 500-cow dairy farm, happened to drive by and offered to help free my car. In the process, we spent 45 minutes discussing the health issues that matter to them and their family, including a lack of access to basic health care in their community.

For me, these conversations have reaffirmed that there is a great amount of work yet to be done. I’m excited for AHW to continue to serve as a driving force, seeking innovative ways to tackle Wisconsin’s greatest health challenges.

In 2019, newly-funded AHW projects began work on a wide variety of issues—from studying the effects of repeated head impacts during contact sports and exploring new treatments for Parkinson’s Disease, to lowering the number of STIS and unintended pregnancies in Milwaukee County and providing better mental health support for students in Marshfield. At the end of 2019, we also announced $1.59 million awarded to four community-MCW partnerships aimed at improving Douglas County’s behavioral health system, providing better support for victims of sex trafficking, creating a new public health nurse training program, and reducing suicides in Winnebago County.

In 2020, AHW will invite applications for additional funding opportunities across our four pathways and look for opportunities to catalyze and convene around key health issues to work toward a collective impact. AHW will also focus on how we can elevate, innovate, and drive positive impacts on health outcomes across the state.

Beyond funding, AHW has several events lined up already. We recently launched our Creating Change for Good Workshop series that is exploring how we can help our community partners develop strategies to address the root causes of their most complex challenges. This April, we’ll kick off our fifth Conversations with Scientists series with a focus on mental health, including anxiety, depression, suicidality, and addiction. This annual event invites those at MCW doing cutting-edge research to share their work in a public format. Last year, more than 400 individuals participated in-person, via livestream from MCW-Central Wisconsin or MCW-Green Bay, and online. In June, we’ll host our third annual Advancing Behavioral Health Summit to bring together those working to impact mental and behavioral health outcomes in the state.

I hope you’ll stay connected to AHW throughout the year on Facebook, Twitter, and via our e-newsletter. Your partnership is the most critical part of our work to make Wisconsin the healthiest state in the country. Together, we can make positive change possible.

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