Relationships Are Key in Health Advocacy

CEO Sarah de Guia Interviewed by American Public Health Association

This year of unprecedented challenges has also produced a significant highlight: the growth of activism. In an interview with the American Public Health Association, ChangeLab Solutions CEO Sarah de Guia discusses how advocacy organizations can advance health equity by building relationships and learning from community members; using health data and a Health in All Policies approach to discover leverage points for new strategies; and navigating an increasingly virtual environment in innovative ways.

“Moving work forward in advocacy is very dependent on relationships,” says de Guia. This year, technology has been used to bridge the relationship gap where we would normally be in person. An article about the interview summarizes de Guia's remarks on this topic: "People have tried to engage advocacy on social media through Twitter briefings, livestreams on Facebook, and Tik Tok. Others are holding Zoom calls with policymakers or engaging in conversations over the phone."

“Moving work forward in advocacy is very dependent on relationships.”

Beyond the platforms of engagement, who we engage is of paramount importance. De Guia spotlights a population that should be central to the policy process but is often left out: “People who live in the local community are really the experts. They know where the problems are and often have the solutions. . . . The best outcomes in advocacy are always when community members are engaged.”

Tapping into tactics for engagement, the article states, “Because communities offer unique perspectives, it is also important to involve diverse stakeholders in advancing advocacy efforts. Coalition-building is a way to co-create collaborative solutions that help address community needs. De Guia emphasized that an important consideration for those managing different stakeholders with conflicting needs is to remind groups that they are not competing for resources, but instead working toward a similar goal.”

Read the article

For more insights, listen to the entire interview: