NEFL Advocacy Training provides advocacy basics and skill-building opportunities for non-profit professionals, teens

Jan 30, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

IMG_9076From advocacy basics to social media and role-playing meetings with legislators, both non-profit professionals and teens learned how to best advocate for the issues that matter to them at the 2015 NEFL Advocacy Training on January 28.

Nearly 100 professionals and teens came together at the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute to the annual training held to prepare advocates for the upcoming legislative season. It was co-hosted by the Healthy Start Coalition, Jacksonville Kids Coalition and United Way of Northeast Florida.

The training — now in it’s seventh year — featured a full teen advocacy training and a new social media component. Participants live-tweeted during the event using the hashtag #jaxkids2015 and for those who couldn’t make the training, there was an opportunity to live-stream part of the event.

Professional training focuses on successful strategies 

Roy Miller of the Children’s Campaign and Lawanda Ravoira of the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center shared their expertise during the keynote address, talking about the importance of advocacy and their success advocating for girls’ issues.

IMG_9105The training also included a panel discussion with local leaders. WJCT’s First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross moderated the panel, which included local anchor and report Melanie Lawson of News4Jax; Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund; and State Senator Aaron Bean. The panel covered a variety of topics and answered questions from participants on topics like how to connect with legislators, getting your issue covered by the press and successful advocacy techniques.

This year, the United Way of Northeast Florida live-streamed the panel discussion. The recorded video is available here.

Two breakout sessions were available to attendees — Social Media/Communications with Kristin Murray, Youth Development Specialist with the Jacksonville Children’s Commission and Grassroots Organizing with Tony Allegretti of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. After those sessions, the child advocates in attendance practiced their newly learned skills in a role-play activity led by Jason Roth, Public Policy Director with the United Way.

Teen Workshop expands

Youth were able to participate in a new teen-centered workshop, an expansion of a brief advocacy session held in 2014. Local teens and participants from APEL Health Services, PACE Center for Girls and the Coalition’s teen health initiatives attended the training.

Jesse Wilson, a local freelance writer, volunteer and advocate, shared his experience with the teens about growing up in foster care and becoming involved in numerous local and statewide advocacy initiatives. He shared his personal experience, including challenges, successes and how to manage a busy schedule.

After the keynote speech, the youth participated in round table discussions to build their skills to become the next great advocates:

  • Travis Pinckney, founder of the college readiness program College R-E-D, discussed professional etiquette and  values.
  • Kristin Murray discussed social media and communications, specifically around building your own personal brand.
  • Rashaad Arnold discussed developing talking points, getting your message out an taking action independently.

The training concluded with an activity to allow the youth their new skills to build advocacy activities around a specific topic.

Unified We Stand: NFHC Remembers Martin Luther King Jr.

Jan 21, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

mlk logoWhile many businesses and organizations were closed Monday, February 19 for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the 23 North Florida Health Corps AmeriCorps members had “a day on, not a day off.”

The Health Corps joined AmeriCorps members and other volunteers across the country for the MLK Day of Service, a national day of service led by the Corporation for National and Community Service in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. It is intended not to be a day off, but instead an opportunity for people across the country to come together and help achieve Dr. King’s vision of a “beloved community.”

mlk day of service 2015This year the NFHC members volunteered with Jacksonville’s Farm Share program, the Clara White Mission and the Sulzbacher Center.

Service Projects at Jacksonville’s Farm Share and Clara White Mission focused on food security in the Jacksonville community. Members served over 5,000 individuals at the Farm Share food giveaway, an event organized by Jacksonville’s Martin Luther King Foundation. Members packed food items into bags for the attendees to take home and helped carry the food to their cars. Members also sorted and organized a variety of non-perishable food items at the Clara White Mission to help the soup kitchen better serve Jacksonville’s homeless population. Both service projects allowed the Corps to realize areas of need in the community, work systematically to tackle food insecurity and stand united to honor Dr. Martin Luther King.

20150119_172507At the Sulzbacher Center, an organization providing comprehensive services to Northeast Florida’s homeless population, members put on a Sulzbacher Family Unity Night. The event honored Dr. King’s commitment to make the world a better place by unifying families and inspiring children make positive change for future generations.

The event included food, a reading of Don’t Try to Kiss a Lizard by local children’s book author/illustrator T.L Randall, raffle prizes and a “We Have a Dream” craft activity where residents made artwork to illustrate their dreams. The “We Have a Dream” artwork will be hung as a collective collage at the Sulzbacher Center for the next few weeks to both remind residents of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy and inspire them to keep dreaming despite difficult circumstances.

Free live webcast of 2015 Advocacy Training panel discussion

Jan 20, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

webcastCan’t make it to the 2015 NEFL Advocacy Training? Join the free live webcast of the 2015 Advocacy Training Day panel discussion. Be a part of the social media conversation and get your questions answered.

Topic: “How to be a Community Advocate”

When: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Moderator: Melissa Ross, host of WJCT’s First Coast Connect

Panelists include:

  • State Senator Aaron Bean,
  • Trey Csar, Executive Director of JPEF,
  • and Melanie Lawson, Anchor/Reporter at WJXT-TV Channel 4 News.

Register to watch online at or join the Google+ hangout and chat in real time with other virtual attendees.

Tweet your questions live with #JaxKids2015 and watch for answers.

New Coalition, Board members elected at 2015 Annual Meeting

Jan 16, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments

Dr Baker

Dr. Catherine Hardee Drew (L), incoming Board Chair and Dr. Stephen Baker, outgoing Board Chair

The Coalition elected new Board and General Membership members and a new slate of officers at it’s annual meeting January 15. The Coalition also released the 2013-2014 Annual Report, presented the Philip Gilbert and Dorothy Wilson Mabry awards and heard a presentation on safe sleep resources from the Department of Children & Families.

Dr. Catherine Hardee Drew was elected as Board Chair. Dr. Drew joined the Coalition in 2011 while she was completing an internship at the Northeast Florida State Hospital for her PhD in Clinical Psychology, which she received from Florida State University in 2013. Dr. Drew is currently employed with the Nassau County School District and is a Nassau County resident.

Dr. Stephen Baker, the outgoing Board Chair, is temporarily stepping into the Vice Chair position. Dr. Baker served as Vice Chair before serving two years as Board Chair. He is a retired political science professor from Jacksonville University.

Jan Morse was elected as Secretary. She is a long-time Board member and the Director of Childhood & Youth Strategies at the United Way of Northeast Florida.

Margaret Dodson, a CPA with Knutzen & Associates, was re-elected Treasurer. She has held this position since 2011.

The new 2015 Board of Directors members are:

  • Megan Denk, Director at the Players Center for Child Health at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, Duval County
  • Cindy Neville, PT, DPT, Women’s Health Physical Therapist at SmartBody Physical Therapy, Duval County
  • Kerry Dunlavey, RN,  Administrator at the Florida Department of Health in Baker County (Public Health representative)

The new 2015 Coalition members are:

  • Maxine Engram, Child Development Program Manager at the Sulzbacher Center, Duval County
  • Judy Ward, Public Health PhD candidate and Nurse at Baptist Health — Nassau, Nassau County
  • Deanna McDonald, Executive Director at the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, St. Johns County
  • Marie Gnage, PhD, Campus President at the Florida State College at Jacksonville Downtown Campus, Duval County
  • Lucinda Deputy, RN, Baptist Health — South, Duval County
  • Yolanda Planas, Family Advocate at Head Start, Clay County
  • Derin Stewart, RN, Nurse at the Wolfson Children’s Hospital NICU, Duval County

2015 Philip Gilbert Award Recipient: Karen Wolfson

Jan 15, 2015  •   Written by Erin Addington   •  no comments


Feed the Children 2010

Congratulations to Karen Wolfson, recipient of the 2015 Philip Gilbert Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. The award, given each January, is reserved for a dedicated and passionate volunteer who shares Healthy Start’s vision and actively contributes to the realization of Coalition goals.

During her tenure as chair, the Coalition launched the  2009 Make a Noise! Make a Difference! social marketing campaign; the first Rounds at the Grounds; the first Feed the Children event; the new Men’s Initiative; and the New Town Success Zone – Photo Voice & Kids University projects. Under her leadership, the Coalition also released the 2009-2014 Service Delivery Plan, which used Life Course framework for the first time, and implemented a Performance Dashboard to track progress. She also pushed for a focus on teen pregnancy prevention and the launch of the NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force.

Children's Week 2012

Children’s Week 2012

For many years, she has also been a strong advocate for Healthy Start, traveling to Tallahassee for Children’s Week and meeting locally with the Duval delegation to educate on the importance of maternal and child health.

The Gilbert Award was established by the Coalition in 2006 in memory of Phil Gilbert, the founding chair of the organization and long-time Executive Vice-President of the Duval County Medical Society. The award honors individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to Healthy Start and the health of women, infants and families.