Fostering Leadership Pathways to Create a Growing, Stronger Public Health Workforce


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The PHI Center for Health Leadership & Impact helped to grow and strengthen the public health workforce by fostering leadership pathways and building the leadership capacity and skills of public health professionals through their Leadership Pathways for the Public’s Health program.

5.4K Naloxone doses distributed to 13 agencies across Los Angeles County in three weeks

75 AmeriCorps members served in 2022

32 host sites in California and in Oregon

115 organizations received capacity building support from AmeriCorps members

92 organizations reported increase in efficiency, effectiveness, and/or program reach

19 AmeriCorps members hired by their host site since 2018

In 2022, the PHI Center for Health Leadership & Impact (CHLI) supported the growth of an equitable public health workforce by building the leadership capacity and skills of public health professionals. CHLI’s Leadership Pathways for the Public’s Health offered internships, employment, service year, and research opportunities for current and future public health professionals through partnerships with AmeriCorps, governmental public health departments, and schools/programs of public health. 

AmeriCorps Work on the Front Lines

A key workforce program of CHLI’s Leadership Pathways for the Public’s Health is the AmeriCorps VISTA Hub. Since 2018, the AmeriCorps VISTA Hub has sponsored service year opportunities and consists of two AmeriCorps VISTA programs that place members in high-need communities to address the ongoing crises of COVID-19 and opioid overdoses.

From August 2021 – July 2022, Leadership Pathways for the Public’s Health placed AmeriCorps VISTA members at 32 host sites in California and in Oregon, across a large geographical reach and in communities with diverse populations to maximize their impact.

During 2022, 75 members served in the AmeriCorps Vista program. Some of the AmeriCorps members were placed in opioid-focused positions and enhanced the capacity and helped to build sustainability within a statewide network of overdose prevention coalitions that is operated by CHLI, called the California Overdose Prevention Network (COPN). Other members were placed in the COVID-19 response program where they helped to build sustainability within organizations working to address the impacts of the pandemic in high-poverty communities and increase community resiliency.

Overall, AmeriCorps members support PHI programs and community-based partner organizations working at the front lines of far-reaching and innovative efforts. They build capacity for public health policy, programs, and practice.

Members in both programs were placed under specific federal guidance on deployment for emergency situations and were in essential, time-limited roles. 

Improving the Capacity of Host Sites

AmeriCorps members served for up to a year with a host site, helping to build the capacity of host sites and bolstering the impact of coalitions to incite transformational change within health systems and the communities they serve, at the local, county, and statewide levels. Due to the direct support from AmeriCorps members, 115 organizations have received capacity building services, and 92 organizations reported an increase in their efficiency, effectiveness, and/or program reach. More than 8,300 individuals have also participated in 346 health education programs with AmeriCorps members.

On the Front Lines Addressing Opioids

Some of the community-based projects that AmeriCorps members placed by CHLI worked on include:

  • Coordinating the distribution of naloxone, the overdose antidote, across county agencies.
  • Increasing awareness and adoption of safe prescribing guidelines among clinicians.
  • Creating interactive events to address substance use among youth.
  • Partnering with local emergency departments to adopt addiction treatment programs.
  • Developing anti-stigma media campaigns.

AmeriCorps members who were placed by CHLI in the field with COPN coalitions have:

  • Distributed 5,400 Naloxone doses to 13 agencies across Los Angeles County in a period of three weeks.
  • Created a website for the Sacramento Opioid Coalition’s anti-stigma campaign.
  • Designed a two-day training to address stigma around opioid use and developed strategies to implement harm reduction principles in Butte County.


The most valuable piece has been the VISTA member. A dedicated staff person to carry out the goals of the coalition and to keep everyone on task has been immeasurably helpful. Placer-Nevada Counties
Our VISTA has been by far the most value-added aspect of the program. Her dedication and work ethic, passion for serving disenfranchised persons; and demonstration of professionalism, tact, and judgment at such an early point in her career have been truly inspiring to the rest of our coalition members [and] that she has worked tirelessly and for little pay to assist. Butte County

Improving Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills

AmeriCorps members experience significant professional development and growth during their service year and go on to work in various sectors. As part of their service, they participate in Monthly Learning Network webinars and topic-specific discussions covering the following topics:

  • Capacity building
  • Managing up
  • Strategic communications and storytelling
  • Stigma and harm reduction
  • Youth engagement

AmeriCorps VISTA members receive support through various mechanisms during their service year and have an opportunity to grow their professional network. AmeriCorps leaders conduct quarterly 1-on-1 check-in calls to provide individualized support to members. Geographic cluster calls help to connect members working in similar areas. A member discussion hub and resources are also provided to current serving members.

Since 2018, 19 AmeriCorps members have been hired by their host site.

About the AmeriCorps VISTA program

AmeriCorps is the only federal agency dedicated to community service and volunteering. The program aims to provide manpower and funding to bolster communities around the country and help them tackle challenging issue areas. The term VISTA stands for “Volunteers in Service to America,” and VISTA members commit to working for the betterment of their community during their year of service. 

To learn more about the PHI Center for Health Leadership & Impact (CHLI) and its programs, visit their website and read their 2022 impact report


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