American Public Health Association Executive Board Info

Dr. Drew Harris' Executive Board candidacy information.








Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us…”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities


Candidate's Statement


I am writing to tell you about my vision of public health, why I’m running for the APHA board, and what I hope to accomplish if I am elected.

Public Health in Our Time

Charles Dickens aptly describes the public health community’s opportunities and challenges. For the first time ever, aggressive public health science and action may turn back or significantly mitigate a flu pandemic. We’ve tracked H1N1 in near-real time, marshaled an army of labs to manufacture vaccine, kept a nervous public well informed, and have been organizing communities to deliver doses in a timely fashion.
Yet, despite our best efforts some people question the very wisdom of mass vaccination and even the scientific foundation of collective action to advance community health—including the goal of guaranteeing every American the right to health care. A cynical minority use fear, uncertainty and doubt to stymie reform and undermine effective government action to maintain an ugly status quo that works in their favor.
Against these efforts to turn the public against science and collective action stand organizations like APHA. Indeed, if APHA did not exist we would surely have to create it. Our nation needs an organization that passionately articulates and advocates scientifically valid public health policies. We need a voice for all public health professionals and a place where they can share, discuss and debate ideas. The public needs a source to turn to for objective information.

Why I’m a Candidate

I am running for a position on the Executive Board because APHA is the advocacy organization best suited to advance the public health agenda. APHA can leverage my energy and talent to help fulfill my desire to make the world better. I believe my role on the APHA board is to be a caretaker for its 137-year legacy as a platform for ideas and a voice for public health and to help it marshal the energy and talent of many others.
I had the opportunity to serve on the APHA board during similarly trying times (2002 – 2004). The organization was going through a major leadership transition and climbing out of a severe deficit. I was proud to be part of the turnaround team and served as chair of the board’s strategic planning committee, which created APHA’s first strategy map. Through this work, I learned the value of effective planning and outcome metrics.

What I Hope to Accomplish

As an APHA Executive Board member, I intend to pursue three goals:

  1. Ensure that APHA has the fiscal and organizational strength to thrive as an effective advocate for the public health community;
  2. Promote effective 360° communication amongst the board, the governing council, the membership, and affiliated organizations; and
  3. Reach out to people who share our vision for a healthier world, but may not know of us.

As the leader of a non-profit organization, I understand the economic difficulties confronting all non-profits and the reflex to cut back during the recession. However, we must recognize that our mission is even more vital when gains in health outcomes are challenged by job losses, cuts in governmental services, increasing homelessness and un- and underinsured people and a backlash against progressive regulation. We must make APHA an indispensable organization to ensure member’s ongoing support. We need to work smarter and creatively leverage every dollar of APHA’s budget to achieve our mission. And we must make sure that everyone—staff and member—clearly understands APHA’s goals and their role in achieving them.
We must demonstrate our value to our members by expanding our conversation with them. In the age of social media, one-way communication is no longer enough. Our members need to be engaged and listened to. They need to see APHA as a place where they can meet and converse with similarly minded individuals every day of the year, not just one week in November.
Similarly, we must engage the sections and affiliates. They have untapped energy and expertise that will help us achieve shared goals. The state affiliates in particular need APHA’s help. As past president of the New Jersey Public Health Association, I know the frustration of a lack of the technologic and administrative resources necessary to be the state’s voice of public health. We must leverage APHA’s infrastructure to enable affiliate growth in a mutually beneficial way.
There are people in this world who practice good public health but are uncertain about what it is or what we do. There are also people who believe as we do in community action built on sound science but have nowhere to turn to channel this energy or seek additional information. APHA must connect with these people, too through more effective community outreach and coalition building. I am doing the same in New Jersey by founding the New Jersey Public Health Institute as an outreach effort to the larger health care, non-profit and business community.
I know that I can’t accomplish these goals alone—no one can. It will take an ongoing and concerted effort. So, as a board member, I intend to practice what we preach in public health—a belief in the value of coordinated collective effort to meet community needs. APHA’s executive board must work cohesively to respond to our internal and external challenges. My work on both Executive and Education Board is evidence of my ability to find common ground, clearly outline policy, and rally support. I intend to be a consensus builder on the executive board.
I have tried to put into words why I am running for the board and what I hope to accomplish when I am there. Please feel free to call or email with any questions or comments. Thank you for your support.

Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH
5 Lambert Circle, Westfield, NJ 07090
(908) 913-0319