Various forces of change have come together to create an environment that encourages public health departments to explore the Academic Health Department concept. This article presents the journey of one health department to meld public health practice with academia for the betterment of the community's health. Lessons learned are presented to demonstrate how the partnerships anticipated possible barriers, avoided problems, moved through the implementation stage, and positioned the partnerships for future growth. Key factors that have contributed to the success of these collaborations are explored, including why they hold promise to meet the needs of the various partners and enable the community-academic partnership1 to thrive beyond the current generation of decision makers. While this example is based on one health department's efforts, the processes and key factors can be applied to others who wish to take the same journey.