The Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative: Leadership Development to Advance Public Health Practice : Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

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The Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative: Leadership Development to Advance Public Health Practice

Schenck, Anna P. PhD, MSPH; Suttie, Janet MA; Orton, Stephen PhD; Carter-Edwards, Lori PhD, MPH; Herrick, Jeannine MPH; Meadows, Phyllis D. PhD, MSN, RN; Dinkin, Donna R. DrPH, MPH

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Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 29(6):p 802-809, November/December 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001768



Effective leadership is essential for governmental public health agencies to promote and protect the health of their communities.


The Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative, a program of The Kresge Foundation, was implemented to strengthen leadership in governmental public health. We seek to examine lessons from the initiative to contribute to the field a better understanding of leadership development practices.


An external evaluator conducted a retrospective analysis of participant responses postinitiative to assess the overall impact of the initiative and explore which components were most valuable.


United States.


Directors and other staff from governmental public health agencies were recruited in 2-person teams to participate in 3 successive cohorts.


Drawn from adaptive leadership principles, a framework was developed to guide the selection and implementation of educational and experiential activities. Participants were challenged to develop a new role for their public health agency, which provided a learning laboratory to practice individual and team leadership skills. The Kresge Foundation provided participants with a resource grant and a National Program Office offered convenings, webinars, coaching, and technical assistance over the 18 months of the developmental experience.

Main Outcome Measures: 

Satisfaction, perceived value of components, and future intentions were assessed from participants in cohorts II and III (n = 70). The overall response rate was 93%.


One hundred four diverse leaders from 52 agencies, representing 30 states participated in the initiative. Participants were extremely satisfied with the program (94%) and indicated a strong likelihood of recommending it to a colleague (96%). Unrestricted grant funding, peer learning, and in-person learning sessions were the program components rated most highly valuable.


This initiative offers insights into principles and processes to be considered for future public health leadership development.

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