Clinton Foundation appoints San Marco resident regional director of new health initiative

District 3 School Board member will continue in that capacity as well

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

Serving as a new director in the health sector isn’t really that much of a reach for Duval County School Board member Ashley Smith Juarez. As newly appointed Northeast Florida Regional Director for the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI), the San Marco resident still remains fully committed to public education.
“In my work in education, I always have known that there are many factors that push and pull on a student’s ability to learn. Wellness is certainly one of those,” she stated. “As a school district we can’t be all things to all children, but we must recognize the challenges our students and their families face.”
She noted that when she learned that the Clinton Foundation, a results-driven organization, was interested in doing collaborative, strategic community wellness work in Northeast Florida (NEFL), she said she had to know more. “The truth is, poor health can stop you in your tracks as an individual and impede NEFL’s productivity, creativity and economic prosperity in aggregate. We have to address all of the social determinants of health from family and social supports to the built environment in order to reach the quality of life potential of the region.”
While these two roles are mutually exclusive, both thoughtfully contribute to growing prosperity, noted Smith Juarez.

The health initiative is a community transformation model which has been operating in four other communities across the country. CHMI works to improve the health and well-being of all people by activating individuals, communities and organizations to make meaningful contributions to the health of others.

When asked how Smith Juarez plans to incorporate the health community, especially the Health Planning Council of NE FL, in the initiative she explained that CHMI uses the county health rankings model to inform and guide the community health transformation work.

“This model frames the key contributors to overall morbidity and mortality in a set of data points that can be compared and contrasted across all the U.S. counties. CHMI has the opportunity to be a neutral convener bringing together stakeholders from across sectors to create a local blueprint for action based on the unique health indicators of each community,” she continued. “It is never CHMI’s intention to duplicate efforts but rather to work closely with existing healthcare and public health efforts. We are committed to adding value and not undermining work currently
She gave kudos to others, saying, “There is some great work already happening in NEFL such as JCCI’s JAX 2025 initiative and the Health Planning Council’s Community Needs Assessment and each of the county health departments’ Community Health Improvement Plans. And, there is still much to do in moving this work forward. That is part of why the five-county region is ripe for this initiative.”

CHMI provides the opportunity to aggregate and uplift each of these efforts through a single, comprehensive regional Blueprint for Action with a community context and national reach. CHMI then engages the public, private and nonprofit sectors building partnerships of great purpose to achieve the Blueprint goals.

“The Clinton Foundation brings national relationships and resources acting as an honest broker to facilitate these partnerships,” Smith Juarez stated. “In addition, the community transformation model gives the opportunity for Northeast Florida to both collaborate with and benchmark against communities doing similar work across the country. The warm welcome extended to CHMI by each of these organizations, area hospitals, business executives, public officials and others in the region emphasizes the opportunity of CHMI’s work.

Smith Juarez will hold a planning session for key community stakeholders on Dec. 18. The day-long strategic planning session will establish a vision for health for the region, map existing assets in the community, and identify bold actions that build upon existing community efforts and leverage the assets of existing community infrastructure.

“It is anticipated that we will invite approximately 150 stakeholders to the session, with attention to keeping a balance of representation from the five counties, from focus areas and from the public, private and NGO sectors,” she commented. “Once the strategic plan, or Blueprint for Action, is developed, CHMI will work with cross-sectorial leaders to identify how to advance the bold action steps.”

For more information on the initiative, Smith Juarez can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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