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Thoughts from our President


A few words from our President Michael Bauer, MS, Director of the Bureau of Occupational Health and Injury Prevention at the New York State Department of Health.





September 17, 2020

Timely and Engaging - Reflections on the 2020 Virtual Conference


I feel like this blog could be very short, simply saying “Annual Conference -- Wow!!!” and leaving it there. But that, my friends, would not pass muster as the president’s blog.

Like many of you, I attended the Safe States 2020 Virtual Conference earlier this month. The theme, “Advancing Equity. Strengthening Prevention.,” was timely, well implemented, and extended throughout the conference.

The opening video montage not only reflected the many challenges that we have been facing, it showed our resolve, continuing to work as a community towards a safer, more equitable nation. This was followed-up by a fantastic, thought provoking plenary session.

I’ve already watched Drs. Jones and Christopher, and Ms. Savannah’s opening plenary again. There was just too much to think about when I watched it live. On top of the noteworthy opening, the conference was filled with important content: the plenaries and other presentations were enlightening; the Learning Labs were eagerly filled; and the virtual Exhibit Halls were informative.

I would like to thank the Annual Conference Planning Committee, led by volunteer leaders Nidhi Sachdeva and Janet Werst, and Safe States staff Eva Bland, who did an amazing job planning this conference under less than ideal circumstances. The Planning Committee and all Safe States staff worked hard, enabling us to participate in a successful conference. Thank you!

No annual conference would be complete without awards. This year, Safe States awarded three outstanding injury and violence prevention professionals with deserving honors: Rich Hamburg was given the President’s Award, Bina Ali received the Outstanding Research Award, and Scott Proescholdbell received the Alex Kelter Award. Safe States also awarded the Partner of the Year to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Congratulations to all four awardees – your dedication to injury and violence prevention is noticed and appreciated!

It wasn’t possible to see all the great presentations last week, but don’t worry, all the conference sessions are available to registrants until September 2021. Not only was this conference full of high quality, impactful content, it was also full of participants. We had 400 registrants, an all-time high!

Finally, I hope you all can participate in the 2021 Safe States Annual Conference, planned for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While I look forward to (hopefully) seeing you all there, I know that if Safe States needs to hold another virtual conference, we can do it well, that it will be almost like being in-person.

So maybe, this blog should be a little longer than I initially thought. Would “Annual Conference! Wow!!! Thank you!!! Congratulations!!!” have sufficed?


August 19, 2020


Interesting Times

When reflecting on this year, the blessing/curse: “May you live in interesting times,” comes to mind. This year has certainly been interesting and not always in the good way. However,

the United States is now engaging in meaningful dialogue to combat systemic racism and while the reasons for these conversations are disheartening, the discussion is long past due, and change is happening. This is meaningful in a way that I am excited about.


Likewise, I am very enthusiastic about the upcoming Safe States 2020 Virtual Conference and the timeliness of this year’s theme: “Advancing Equity. Strengthening Prevention.” Over the course of three days we will foster dialogue and engagement with an eye to how we, as injury and violence prevention professionals, can work to identify disparities and improve health equity. There will be plenty of opportunity to engage in conversations and learn about injury and violence prevention initiatives taking place across the nation from colleagues.


I cannot wait to hear about our colleagues’ great work and participate in vital conversations over chat and other interactive features in the conference platform. Engagement will be extra important this year, as this is our first-ever virtual conference. I understand it can be a little harder to participate remotely, but for this conference to succeed, we need your active participation. Please engage our presenters and join the networking activities. Let’s make this year’s virtual conference the best conference yet!


Lastly, I challenge you to respond to the 2020 Vision Annual Fundraiser. Nidhi Sachdeva is chairing our drive to raise funds to continue advancing the essential work of injury and violence prevention. These funds are crucial to continuing successful Safe States initiatives, such as the policy fellows. Anything you can give is greatly appreciated. No amount is too small.  Thank you!


May you live in interesting times. But only in the best way possible.

July 15, 2020

Public Health shines in unprecedented times


We have all heard that 2020 is unprecedented. Yes, the threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is unprecedented (at least in our lifetime), but I believe that the way the public health community has stepped up, worked together, and outside of our comfort zone is unprecedented also. Evidence-based public health messages have been informing people on a national level and here in New York. I’ve seen, first-hand, the messaging here in New York State, and watched the data inform our policies.


When I began my graduate studies, I was driven by a desire to use statistics as a problem-solving technique. As is often the case, fate knew just how to turn this desire into something meaningful. Turns out that my university was offering a degree in biostatistics, through the School of Public Health. While, I hadn’t started out pursuing Public Health, I soon learned about the importance of the work done by public health, and I found it to be an ideal way to put my statistical problem-solving to work.


Nowadays, “evidence-based” and “data-informed” are buzz words that we constantly hear and use. These terms show us the value of our efforts, that we know our work will make our communities healthier, stronger, and safer. My career has progressed from running numbers and analyses, to using data to guide the hard work that my staff and I pursue. I was fortunate enough to find a fulfilling path, that not only enabled me to use statistical problem-solving, but to become intimately involved with various state and national programmatic efforts to keep us, including the most vulnerable, safer. 


Like many of you, I have worked outside of my field on COVID-19 response. Twenty-five years ago, while I was pursuing a love of statistics, and the associated logic, I would have never dreamt that I would be part of a community of public health experts responding to a pandemic. I can tell you that this situation has shown me that I made the right decision, and I have never been prouder to be part of the public health community than I am today.


I am glad that you are all part of this community with me. Thank you for doing what you can to lessen the devasting impact of COVID-19 while continuing to work to lessen the impact of injuries and violence. Keep up the extraordinary efforts!


June 17, 2020

Guest Feature by Rich Hamburg, Safe States Executive Director


Leading through crisis. Leading through uncertainty. Leading through difficult times. These are some of the key descriptors for organizational management in challenging times. I prefer ‘leading through change.’ According to David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom in Forbes, “Change is constant. It’s so constant that you would think we would all be used to it by now. But, we’re not… You don’t know where the next twist or turn will take you. The important thing is to not let change overwhelm you.”

We are in demanding times and while we are prepared as an organization to provide leadership and direction, we will most surely depend on all of you to be active participants in putting ideas into action.

The Center for Creative Leadership refers to the 3 C’s of Effective Change Leadership – communicate, collaborate, and commit. In this watershed moment, responding to two pandemics - COVID-19 and systemic racism, we must be prepared to rise to our call to action. The overlap between both, witnessed by the inequities in the impact and treatment of the virus for persons of color, is clear and the impacts will be felt for many years.

To address the 3 C’s, I, our staff, and our volunteer leadership pledge to engage in regular two-way dialogue with our members; maintain ongoing collaboration with our traditional and non-traditional partners; and commit to identifying and implementing meaningful actions. Toward that end, we are in the process of establishing a working group to help operationalize our August 2019 Diversity, Inclusion and Equity statement and to identify related goals and deliverables.

Now more than ever, please stay safe, remain committed and stay engaged!

May 20, 2020

Invest in yourself and IVP – Consider a position on the 2021 Executive Committee

The Safe States Alliance is the national leader in understanding and preventing injuries and violence. The work of the association is vital in giving a strong voice to injury and violence prevention (IVP) in the broader public health arena, and each member plays an integral part. Personally, much of my growth in IVP can be attributed to my involvement with Safe States.

From my participation on State Technical Assessment Team (STAT) visits and Hill Days to Special Interest Groups and committees, I have expanded my knowledge, skills, and network. But even more than that, throughout my nine years and counting on the Safe States Executive Committee, I have enjoyed the consistent privilege of working with the most passionate and dedicated volunteer leaders a non-profit organization could have. It has been an honor working with these volunteer leaders to provide leadership and direction in the important work of Safe States. It continues to be a truly rewarding experience and I hope that many more members take this opportunity and investment in themselves, as well as the organization.

So, whether you are new to Safe States or been a member for many years, this is your chance. Consider running for a position on the 2021 Executive Committee and see the world of difference you can make!


April 15, 2020

Staying safe. Adjusting. Keeping the work moving in New York and beyond.


Writing this blog feels different. Our world seems to have changed dramatically, with COVID-19 taking a foothold in the United States. My life has been focused on staying safe, adjusting, and continuing our important injury and violence prevention work here in New York and beyond.


It’s hard to watch television, listen to the radio, read the paper, or peruse social media without seeing opinions on how to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus. In this vein, I feel that my duty to public health would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone of the appropriate public health recommendations: wash your hands often with soap and water; maintain social distancing (at least 6 feet); don’t touch your face; use tissues when coughing or sneezing (if you don’t have one, use the crook of your arm), clean frequently touched surfaces; and take caution with people at-risk. I’ve started wearing a fabric mask when I am in public. I’m following the recommendations so that I can stay as safe as possible and I can do my part to keep others safe. I hope that you are too. While these things are relatively easy to do, they do take some adjustment.


As with many of you, the implementation of social distancing caused some of the most dramatic changes in my daily life. While it was fun having a local scoop shop deliver (contact-free) ice cream, I miss seeing people – I even miss working in the office. I miss having two screens, a full-size keyboard, and an ergonomic chair, but I miss the day to day in-person contacts more. Sure, we have email, phone, Skype, everything that we need to stay in-touch, but the advantages of one-on-one or group meetings are lost.


It’s important that we all continue our important injury and violence prevention work. Many of my staff are working at home to keep making New York safer. Even with the changes and adjustments that we are forced to make, our work is important. I’m proud of my staff for stepping up to these challenges, and I’m as proud as ever to be president of Safe States. The work that we all do is important. Injuries are still a significant cause of morbidity and mortality – and the good work we do to prevent them remains important.


I started by saying that writing this blog feels different. Most things feel different these days, it’s as if there are multiple clouds in need of silver linings. I’d like to end this blog with some of the silver linings that I have found during this time. I am thankful for the technologies that allow me to continue working. I am proud of the injury and violence prevention professionals (nationally and within New York) that are continuing to make a difference. I am grateful for my family and pets which help me to feel connected. I hope that you are all finding comfort during these challenging days.


Stay Healthy!


March 18, 2020

Guest Feature by Rich Hamburg, Safe States Executive Director


We are in this together

We are indeed in trying times, buried beneath an avalanche of information, much of it useful (like the CDC website), some not so much. A great deal of our work at Safe States is being impacted, and at times upended. Many of you are either directly involved in the public health response to COVID-19, or indirectly through added responsibilities as a result of colleagues taken ill or being shifted to the front lines of the infectious disease response.


On behalf of the staff and volunteer leadership of Safe States, thank you for your dedication to the public’s health and for helping us make the right decisions at Safe States while working to implement them in a thoughtful and reasonable manner. Luckily, as a “virtual” organization, we are better equipped than many in our ability operate in a remote environment. While some upcoming meetings have been postponed, we are making every effort to implement what we can in a virtual environment. 


This is a great time to visit our Training Center and its searchable database of injury and violence prevention issues, topics (like evaluation and surveillance) and core competencies. Don’t forget that members can earn CEUs without traveling. As you see in the March newsletter, so much is happening. New publications, new programs and grant opportunities, as well as ongoing partnership-building.   


Bigger picture, apropos to the current crisis, I’d like to call your attention to a recent article in Roll Call from a bi-partisan set of former U.S. Senate majority leaders and a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration - America’s Public Health Infrastructure Needs Consistent FundingThe authors make the case that “State and local leaders are responding to the coronavirus crisis with one hand tied behind their backs,” and that significant mandatory resources from the federal government “would fund strong public health systems in every community, assuring that where you live doesn’t determine how well your public health agency can protect you.”  An important set of ideas for building capacity during the time between health emergencies. During those times, our public health system and infrastructure cannot be allowed to wither on the vine.  


Let’s remember, we’re all in this together – our members, our staff, friends, and colleagues.  We know we have a small window to contain the outbreak. This won’t last forever, and we will get through it together.


February 19, 2020

Some recommended reading for those long winter evenings.

Maybe you’re like me and looking for an informative read for these cold February nights. Or perhaps you are in a warm place, looking for an easy read for the patio (or beach). In either case, I think you’ll find the Safe States Alliance 2019 Annual Report the perfect read no matter the climate.


Hot off the presses, this report celebrates Safe States’ successes in 2019. Highlighting all things Safe States, this year’s report includes pictures, statistics, thoughts from leadership, and information on membership. If you’ve been wondering if we are reaching the goals of the 2019-2021 Strategic Map – check out the 2019 Annual Report! (Spoiler alert: we’re meeting these goals thanks to our dedicated staff, leadership, and members.) Looking to learn more about the various initiatives, be sure to click on the links within the report for a deeper dive.


I want to personally thank all of you for your contributions the successes found in the 2019 Annual Report. As you read the report, please think about ways you can be involved in 2020. Increased membership involvement improves Safe States as an organization.


January 15, 2020

Resolve to Engage


Happy New Year! For many a new year comes with renewed resolve for the year ahead. Maybe for you it’s to be healthier, save money, or read more. Perhaps you want to volunteer, meet new people, or get in some extra professional development. What about resolving to take full advantage of your Safe States Alliance membership? With so many opportunities available to members, now is a great time to do just that – let me tell you how!


How can Safe States help with your resolution to volunteer and meet new people?

Join a Special Interest Group (SIG) or committee to help you learn, contribute to the field, and network with colleagues from across the country. The Safe States website has more detailed information about the active SIGs (Hospital Injury Prevention, Partner and Sexual Violence Prevention, and the State Designated Representatives) and Committees (Annual Conference Planning, Concept Development, Finance and Audit, Membership Development, Policy, and the Executive Committee). For those interested in participating on the Executive Committee, Safe States has elections every year in late spring. I encourage you to submit a nomination for yourself, or someone you believe would make a great addition. While getting to know other passionate injury and violence prevention (IVP) professionals is a huge perk, your active engagement contributes to strengthening the field and makes the great work happen.


What about your professional development resolution?

Safe States offers many professional development programs and activities throughout the year. As a member, you can earn Certified in Public Health and Certified Health Education Specialist continuing education credits with over 100 online self-studies and trainings in the Training Center. Safe States can provide you technical assistance to build program capacity and advance priorities, help you influence and advocate for national, state, and local-level IVP policies and appropriations, and offers unique leadership and volunteer opportunities for its members. If this appeals to you, think about participating in Safe States annual Advocacy Day and applying to be part of a State Technical Assessment Team or the Policy Fellowship Program this year.


Did you resolve to multitask – working to network, gain new skills, AND contribute to IVP programs, policies and research?

Then Safe States is your place, with unlimited access to the latest IVP news, resources, publications, and tools. The annual conference brings all these great opportunities together under one roof -- join us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from September 9th through the 11th.


Lastly, if you are not a Safe States member, I have a New Year’s resolution for you…JOIN!


More information on all the opportunities available to members can be found on the Safe States website - please visit and learn more.

December 18, 2019

Reflections of a successful year

As the end of the year is upon us, I’d like to reflect on some of the important accomplishments of the Safe States Alliance over the past year. From a new Strategic Plan and Map for 2019-2021 to national recognition of members and staff, it has been a year full of firsts and exciting developments for the organization.


First, the 2019-2021 strategic plan and map is providing Safe States with a clear direction for where we are and where we want to go. Membership has been simplified through a new dues structure and expanded as a result of the Giving Tuesday Give the Gift of Student Membership campaign resulting in scholarships for 14 new student members. Safe States continues to lead injury prevention workforce training through webinars, peer learning calls, and workgroups. Safe States also continues to lead in the policy arena, including a new firearm violence prevention statement and record participation in the Injury and Violence Prevention Network Hill Day. The Annual Conference held in Atlanta, Georgia was very successful, with 262 people in attendance. The plenaries and presentation were thoughtful and informative. Safe States members continue to support the organization with a new and highly engaged Executive Committee and committee chairs. Theses volunteer leaders are essential for the continued growth of the organization. And finally, I’d like to again congratulate Dr. Jamila Porter, Safe States Director of Programs and Evaluation, for being recognized by the de Beaumont Foundation as a 40 under 40 in Public Health winner.


Remember, there is still time to make that year-end donation to the 20/20 Vision fundraising campaign. This campaign is crucial in providing Safe States the flexibility needed to advance the field of injury and violence prevention through policy efforts at the federal level.


I thank you all and look forward to the continued success of Safe States in 2020 and beyond.

November 20, 2019

Guest Feature by Rich Hamburg, Safe States Executive Director


Special Public Health Thank You


I’d like to wish you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday next week! An important time to spend with family and friends. To kick off Thanksgiving week, Monday is also Public Health Thank You Day. It’s a day when we recognize and thank you, the public health workforce, for your tireless work to combat urgent public health crises and enhance health and well-being to sustain healthy communities.


On behalf of Safe States, I’m honored to thank front-line public health professionals for your efforts to work across systems applying shared risk and protective factors to prevent overdoses and poisonings, road traffic injuries, falls, drownings, firearm violence, suicides, and so much more. Your dedication and commitment to overcoming challenges and finding solutions to protect the health of all Americans is admirable!


I also want to recognize the importance of public health-related research and advocacy. Public health also means protecting the health of vulnerable populations and looking “upstream” at the impact of substandard housing and poverty, limited access to education, lack of universal healthcare coverage and working to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Investments in research and efforts to advocate for common-sense policies to address complex issues is critical to protecting the health of all people.


And I want to extend a final thanks to our active membership for partnering with your colleagues to promote professional development; develop and share resources, tools and professional experiences; and mentor those just starting out in the field of injury and violence prevention. To support all of the above efforts, I urge you to participate in our ongoing 20/20 Vision campaign. Help us to see a bright future for injury and violence prevention.


October 16, 2019

Reflections of Volunteer Leadership


My inaugural blog is meaningful to me as it represents a “changing of the guard.” It is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of volunteer leadership and what is to come.


The Safe States Alliance offers many indispensable materials for its membership and injury and violence prevention practitioners; however, my favorite benefit is not one that I can download – it is the opportunity to serve as a volunteer leader with this organization. 


I have served as Chair and Vice-Chair of special interest groups and committees, At-Large Member, and Vice President. Not only have these roles given me a sense of community among my peers, they have strengthened my passion for injury and violence prevention, and Safe States. I sincerely appreciate my colleagues who have paved this road and encourage everyone to volunteer. We are ALL part of the community, lending a hand to shape the great work done by Safe States.   


Previous Chairs, Vice-Chairs, and Executive Committee members have helped make Safe States the leading organization for injury and violence prevention in the nation. I would like to name and thank every person who has served Safe States or mentored me, but that list is very long and would need the blog equivalent of music playing over a long Oscar-acceptance speech. “I would like to thank the Academy membership for electing me.” (Joking aside, I do sincerely appreciate you all!)


We don’t always know how our actions impact other people, but I do know that my desire to prevent injuries and violence, and the work of Safe States is, in part, driven by the actions of our volunteer leaders. A previous Safe States President, and my injury and violence prevention mentor at the New York State Department of Health, Susan Hardman, shared her passion for injury and violence prevention with me. Previous volunteer leaders gave me the opportunity and inspired me to serve. Please encourage each other to share your passion, experience and abilities. I have grown because of the influence and hard work of my peers, and so has Safe States. 


Strong volunteer leaders have helped Safe States adapt to changes. Amber Williams was a remarkable Executive Director for many years and helped move us along our journey. After Amber left, our President, Lindsey Myers provided leadership as we found a new Executive Director. This is an example of how, with the support of volunteer leaders, Safe States will persevere. (That doesn’t mean you can look for another position, Rich!)


I am excited to work with the in-coming volunteer leaders. Everyone who I’ve spoken with has been eager to take on new responsibilities. The change of leadership provides more people the opportunity to grow their passion for injury and violence prevention, and it allows States to benefit from new perspectives. Our new volunteers (including me) are incredibly lucky to build upon such a strong foundation, built by previous dedicated volunteer members.


I want to encourage all Safe States members to think about leadership roles. We need your efforts to make this organization as strong as it can be.


Thank you all for the good work that you have done, are doing, and will do!



A few words from our President Lindsey Myers, MPH, Branch Chief of the Violence and Injury Prevention - Mental Health Promotion Branch at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).


September 25, 2019

Parting Thoughts of Gratitude and Optimism

It is with great gratitude that I write my final “thoughts” as Safe States President. 

The Safe States 2019 Annual Conference was one of my favorites! Lisa Roth, Courtney Edwards, and the rest of the Annual Conference Planning Committee created an excellent program. I enjoyed the high-quality presentations from both practice and research attendees. It was so nice to catch up with colleagues from across the country. Safe States truly is a family.


We also kicked off our new 20/20 Vision campaign and were able to raise $3,300 in just two and a half days! I would like to thank those of you who generously made donations, bought raffle tickets, and/or t-shirts. We set an ambitious campaign goal to reach $10,000 by the end of 2019 and are off to a great start.


This year, we wanted to issue a friendly regional challenge based on the Regional Network Coordinating Organization regions. So far, I am happy to report that the Plains to Peeks region is in the lead! We still have three months to reach our goal, so please consider donating (if you have not done so already) or ask your friends or family members to consider Safe States for their end of the year giving. With injury and violence issues getting more attention than ever before, it is essential for Safe States to play a strong leadership role in 2020. Your contributions will help us do that by supporting our policy and advocacy efforts.


The last two years have flown by and I could not have asked for a better professional development opportunity. It has been amazing to work with the talented Safe States staff and members of the Executive Committee to hire Rich Hamburg as our Executive Director and develop our 2019-2021 Strategic Map. I have learned so much about how non-profits and associations operate. I am excited about the partnerships Safe States has been able to develop and thrilled that we continue to build our policy influence. I look forward to my continued involvement on the Executive Committee over the next year as Past President where I will support Michael Bauer as he assumes the role of President.


But most of all, I am proud to be a member of the Safe States Alliance and so thankful I had a chance to contribute to the organization. I can’t wait to see how it continues to evolve and grow. Thank you all! 


August 21, 2019

Do you have 20/20 Vision?

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and now is the time to envision the future. As I am wrapping up my term as Safe States President, I find myself reflecting on how Safe States has evolved over the last two years and the opportunities before us. As we look to 2020, it is time to aim high and work together to achieve our collective vision. On behalf of the Executive Committee, I am pleased to announce the 20/20 Vision fundraising campaign.


Since I began my term, we hired a new Executive Director, developed a new Strategic Map for 2019-2021, received several competitive grants, built new relationships with organizations and funders, and increased our policy and advocacy footprint. Looking back, I know we could not have accomplished so much without our amazing staff, volunteer leaders, and members who regularly dedicate their time and energy (and money) to make all these things happen.


Last year, in honor of our 25th Anniversary, Safe States set a record by raising close to $5,000 to support our Policy Fellows Program and other advocacy efforts. I was encouraged by the support and am confident we can do even more this year.


To add a competitive spirit to the 20/20 Vision campaign, we are making this is a friendly regional competition. We challenge each of the five regions (based on the RNCO state groupings) to each raise $2,020. If all regions achieve this goal, we will raise over $10,000! All donations will be tallied and credited to the region in which the donor resides or chooses to designate (regardless of membership to Safe States or the regional network).


I am inviting all of you to advance the field of injury and violence prevention by helping transform the Safe States Alliance into an organization that has the resources to truly lead policy efforts at the federal level. I submitted my contribution last week, so the Plains to Peaks Regional Network is currently in the lead. Please help us expand our efforts by contributing what you can.


If all 50 states were each able to come up with $202, we would achieve our goal! So, please reach out to your friends and neighbors who might be thinking about their end of the year donations, promote Safe States on social media with a link to the donation page, reach out to a local business, or simply donate what you can ($20.20 would be clever or some multiple thereof).


We are kicking off this national fundraiser in the lead up to our Annual Conference and will carry it through the end of the calendar year. We will track the state and region donations and will send out regular updates. Go to to give today!


July 17, 2019

Speaking Clearly to Make Meaningful Connections


Last week I attended the Western Pacific Injury Prevention Network (WPIPN) meeting in Seattle. I facilitated a workshop on shared risk and protective factors associated with injury and violence prevention (one of my favorite topics). As I was introducing concepts related to approaching injury and violence prevention through a shared lens, I found myself thinking about how much jargon I use to describe our work and tried to challenge myself to use plain language. It is harder than you think.


Jargon is everywhere in our field and can be an enormous barrier to actually implementing the approaches we proudly call by some jargony name. Does it mean anything to say that you are addressing shared risk and protective factors, social determinants of health, health equity, adverse childhood experience, or some other root cause term if the partners that you are trying to engage don’t understand what you mean when you use these terms? Is it really the term that matters?


It is so much more meaningful to be specific about what you are trying to do and use simple terms that anyone can understand. For example, if I want to do a project that increases economic supports because doing so might impact multiple issues I care about (e.g. child maltreatment, sexual violence, suicide, etc), I need to get specific to get partners on board. I might choose a strategy like, increasing enrollment to food assistance programs to build economic supports in my community, which I know is something that nutrition services, obesity prevention, and family resource center programs also care about. When I approach these potential new partners, it might not be necessary that they fully understand the links between different forms of violence. Having a common issue or project to work on together is the important thing. Talking about the specific project makes it easier to find new leverage points to help us all achieve our unique outcomes of interest. Thanks to WPIPN members for helping me practice my plain language and think strategically about making connections!


Speaking of connections, the Safe States Annual Conference is another great opportunity to practice making connections across different issue! I must admit that I am a procrastinator when it comes to filling out paperwork like travel authorizations and was late in getting my approval to attend from my agency. So, I was extra excited to hear that Safe States extended the early bird registration deadline to July 19th. I am going to register by Friday and so should you! If you still need more time, online registration closes on August 23rd and rooms at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park have to be booked by August 24th. I can’t wait to connect with you all there.


June 19, 2019

Kick-off Summer by Planning for Fall


There is no better way to start the summer than to start planning for the fall (unless you are going to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival tomorrow like I am—that is a pretty great start too). Early bird registration is open for the Safe States 2019 Annual Injury and Violence Prevention Conference at the Embassy Suites at Centennial Park in Atlanta, Georgia from September 11-13. I always enjoy when the Safe States Conference is in Atlanta since that means in addition to connecting with our colleagues from around the country, we have more opportunities to connect with our CDC colleagues from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.


The theme for Safe States 2019 is Connect ATL and focuses on building and strengthening connections that advance, transform, and lead the field of injury and violence prevention. This year the conference will feature new Lightening Talk Presentations, and in the spirit of facilitating connections, plenty of time for small group meetings (e.g. Special Interest Groups, Safe States Committees, Regional Network meetings).


The conference will kick-off with two great pre-conference sessions. Ali Cox, Ph.D., the Director of Training and Development at the University of Georgia will be conducting a workshop called, Leading in the IVP Field with Greater Perspective and Awareness. Participants will be guided through a process to reflect on their current challenges, explore the patterns and paradox that occur in their lives and organizations, and practice a tool for managing these complexities with greater perspective and awareness to ultimately take lead from where you are.


In the second pre-conference session, Paul Bonta and Rich Hamburg are teaming up with Shannon Frattaroli, the Deputy Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, to offer an advocacy workshop focusing on state laws and policies.


And it is not too late to recognize your colleagues for a 2019 Safe States Award. Nominations are open until Friday, June 21st for the following awards:

·  Advocate of the Year Award

·  Alex Kelter Vision Award

·  Ellen R. Schmidt Award

·  Injury and Violence Prevention Program Achievement Award

·  Outstanding Research Award

·  Rising Star Award


Finally, don’t forget to vote for your 2019-2020 Safe States Alliance Executive Committee. Voting will be open until July 9th. We have a great slate of candidates for Secretary, Treasurer, and four Member-At-Large positions. Please take a moment today to access the ballot survey via the email you received on June 17th and cast your vote!


May 15, 2019

We can’t do it alone – Recognize your colleagues with a Safe States Annual Award


March and April are always the hardest, busiest months for me at work due to multiple grant deadlines, the state legislative session, and performance reviews. I am always so thankful when May arrives and I have a chance to catch my breath a little and reflect. Lately, I have been thinking about how I would never be able to make it through hectic times like these without the support of my amazing Colorado colleagues and the things I have learned from my fellow Safe States members and national partners. I challenge you to think about the leaders in our field who have positively influenced your work and consider nominating them for one of the six available awards, including two brand new ones.


Today, Safe States announced the call for 2019 Award Nominations. Nominating your colleagues for a Safe States Award is a great opportunity to recognize and honor their contributions to Safe States and commitment to the field of injury and violence prevention.


To ensure our award categories reflect the diversity of our membership, Safe States has decided to accept nominations for two new awards this year. The Outstanding Research Award will recognize student or professional researchers for contributing outstanding research that helps further the field of injury and violence prevention. The Advocate of the Year Award will acknowledge the advocacy or policy contributions of either an individual or organization toward advancing our field. Additionally, Safe States will consolidate its community-based and state prevention program achievement awards to create a more inclusive category called, the Injury and Violence Prevention Program Achievement Award, which will celebrate successful programs in any type of community, hospital, state, or university setting.


Expanding the award categories provides opportunities for Safe States members from all injury and violence prevention sectors to nominate their colleagues for their unique contributions. I am hoping that this will be a record-breaking year for nominations! And I look forward to helping present the awards at Safe States 2019 Annual Conference in September. 


April 17, 2019

There is a place for you to learn and grow at Safe States - consider an Executive Committee position.


It is an exciting time for Safe States! Our organization is becoming more visible. We are building new cross-sector partnerships and having a larger influence on policies that impact injury and violence prevention issues. And now we need you to consider running for one of the six open Executive Committee positions! Yes, I mean you!


For the 2020 fiscal year, the Safe States Executive Committee has the following positions up for election: Secretary, Treasurer, and four At-Large Members. Serving on the Executive Committee has been a great professional development opportunity for me. I have learned so much about non-profits, national-level politics, and partnership development. I have really enjoyed getting to know injury and violence prevention colleagues from across the country and have grown from hearing different perspectives about our work. We need practitioners like you to provide leadership that advances injury and violence prevention. The nomination period for open Executive Committee positions takes place May 6 – 24 and voting will take place from June 3 – 21.


We want a diverse pool of candidates. Our current Executive Committee comprises people who work in hospital injury prevention programs, local health departments, state health departments, and injury research centers. Having committee members who represent different disciplines, are at different stages in their careers, have different lived experiences, and unique cultural backgrounds makes us stronger. I am happy to talk to any of you who might be thinking about running for one of the open positions. Please feel free to contact me at to set up a time to discuss what it is like to serve on the Executive Committee or look for more information from Safe States in your inbox on May 6.


Additionally, I would like to remind you all that the 2019 Safe States award nominations are right around the corner (May 15 – June 24). This is a great opportunity to recognize and honor your colleagues’ contributions to Safe States and their commitment to the field of injury and violence prevention. I would love to see many nominations this year. So start thinking about who deserves to be recognized! You can review last year’s award winners here


March 19, 2019

Membership to Safe States Provides Opportunities to Network and Grow


Networking with peers from other states has been one of the most valuable benefits of Safe States membership to me. Over the past decade, I have learned so much from my colleagues in other parts of the country. And last week’s Southeastern and Southwestern Injury Prevention Network (SSIPN) meeting was a great reminder of that.


I had the opportunity to join the SSIPN in New Orleans to talk about strategies to address multiple types of injury and violence using a shared risk and protective factor approach. Although I was technically an “outside” guest at this meeting (Colorado belongs to another regional network), I did not feel like an outsider. In fact, it felt like a mini-reunion. I realized this was because I had met over half of the attendees over the course of my 11 years as Safe States Alliance member.


The Safe States 2019 Injury and Violence Prevention Conference is one of the best ways to connect with others who share your passion for injury and violence prevention. So mark your calendar now and plan to attend. And whether you have been a Safe States member for many years or are new to our organization, I highly encourage you to submit an abstract to share the great work you have been doing. We accept both practice and research-based abstracts, which makes for rich sessions that demonstrate the research-to-practice and practice-to-research connections that are so important to advance, transform, and lead our field.


I am really looking forward to reuniting with all of you at the conference, September 11-13 in Atlanta.  Thanks to the Southeastern and Southwestern Injury Prevention Network for such a warm welcome to your meeting and for reminding me what a great injury and violence prevention family we have through Safe States!


February 19, 2019

Heartbreak to Hope


As I was getting ready for work on Valentine’s Day, I listened to NPR. Coverage about the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School dominated the story-lines. It saddened me to think about how a day that is supposed to celebrate love turned into such a nightmare. It seemed fitting that later that day, the Safe States Executive Committee voted to approve the Policy Committee’s new Firearm Policy Statement to be presented for a full member vote next week.  


As I reflected on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, the reality that this was just one of the many mass shootings that happen in our country every year set in. I was reminded of the incredible strength the students demonstrated in the aftermath and how incredible it was that students and adults across the country stood (and marched) by them to advocate for gun reform.


I am proud of the Policy Committee for putting together a comprehensive statement and urge you all to take time to review it and vote when the notice comes out on February 25th. I would like to specifically thank the following members who spent countless hours working on the statement: Karyn Brownson, Jane Herwehe, Jamila Porter, Tony Gomez, Barbara Chatterjee, Ingrid Bou-Saada, Mark Johnson, and Colleen Kapsimalis.


I am also proud that the new Safe States Strategic Map prioritizes recruiting a diverse membership that reflects the field. This includes expanding our student membership. I am happy to tell you that we were able to raise enough funding through our Giving Tuesday Campaign to support 14 new student members. In total, 84 undergrad and graduate level students expressed interest in the membership scholarship. This response from our student colleagues is so exciting to me!


I am committed to engaging our new members in meaningful ways to reduce gun violence and impact all the other injury and violence issues that we work on. Thank you to members of the State Designated Representative Special Interest Group for reaching out to the students who expressed interest but were not selected to receive the membership scholarship through the lottery. We are hoping that some of the students will still decide to join Safe States. It is also never too late to donate to Safe States to support membership opportunities!


I am looking forward to talking with and sharing more with you during our All Member Virtual Meeting on February 20th. We have over a hundred members registered so far and are still accepting registrations here. I hope you will join us!


January 16, 2019

Resolve to Get Involved


I hate to make you jealous, but I am writing this with the most amazing view of the ocean and can’t help but comment on it. I am celebrating the start of 2019 with family and friends on a trip to Utila, Honduras—my favorite place on earth. As I was scuba diving today, it struck me how impressive schools of fish can be. A couple of fish are swimming along and then one joins the group, then another one, until a large school forms, swimming in unison and somehow turning into an entity in and of itself. Teamwork and resolve—a good theme for the new year! And there are plenty of ways to get more involved with Safe States!  


As 2019 kicks off, I challenge each of you to get more involved with the Safe States community. First, please register for the All Member call on February 20 th from 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST to hear more about the new Safe States Strategic Map and learn about the priorities our committees will be working on this year. In the spirit of teamwork and joint resolve, the Safe States staff, Executive Committee, committees and special emphasis groups have been identifying specific, purposely coordinated activities to work toward the following five objectives:

  • Recruit a diverse membership that reflects the field
  • Offer quality and relevant professional development opportunities
  • Educate policymakers to advance the field
  • Strengthen relationships with other organizations pursuing common goals
  • Develop and prioritize potential projects/concepts for funders

As you will hear on the All Member call there are ways for all members to contribute to meeting these objectives, while building relationships with colleagues from around the country and developing as an injury and violence prevention professional. For example, Safe States just announced our annual Hill Day taking place March 29thregister now.


I have had the opportunity to participate in two Hill Days over the last few years and learned so much from the experience, while getting to educate policymakers about injury, suicide and violence prevention. Our Government Relations Director, Paul Bonta, does a great job prepping you for your meetings. And though I remember being a little nervous the first time I participated, I realized that I had great information to share with the hill staffers for my state’s congressional delegation and came away energized. However you resolve to get involved, I am so thankful that you are part of the Safe States team. 


December 19, 2018

Reflections on a Successful Year and Opportunities to Come


The end of the year is a great time to pause and take stock of all that is and was. From hiring new staff and raising funds to advance the field, to planning for the future and launching new committees, it has been a busy and productive year for Safe States!


As I reflect on all the amazing things that happened in 2018, I thought I would share a few of my highlights.


This year we welcomed Rich as our new executive director. Christa and Eva joined the team. Ina, Jamilia, Julie, Michelle, Paul and Sharon continued to provide support to our membership and committees, while doing excellent work to help lead the injury and violence prevention field. We were awarded a new 5-year grant from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at CDC to help build injury and violence prevention capacity across the country. We raised over $5000 to support our Policy Fellows Program and other advocacy efforts, and held a successful drive to provide scholarships for new student members. The Executive Committee also created a 2019-2021 Strategic Map to guide Safe States for the next three years. I could go on and on. I am so appreciative of our staff and committee members for all your work over the past year. Thank you!


Everything we did this year has set Safe States up for an even better 2019. I am looking forward to officially rolling out the new Strategic Map on our All Member call on February 20th. The Executive Committee and staff are in the process of identifying specific activities to help achieve the priority objectives we identified for this coming year. I am also pleased to announce that the Executive Committee selected the following people to chair our 2019 committees.

The committee chairs will be working with their respective members to identify committee activities for 2019 that align with the strategic map. If you are not yet a member of one of these committees, I highly encourage you to join! Not only are committees a great way to meet other Safe States members who share your interests, but you have the opportunity to shape the work of the organization and the injury and violence prevention field as a whole. We especially are looking for members to join the new Concept Development Committee, which will primarily help brainstorm new concepts for Safe States to explore in order to provide leadership that advances the field. If you have great ideas and are a natural strategic thinker, this committee is for you! Please reach out to the chair Binnie LeHew  or vice-chair Tony Gomez to find out more!


Best wishes for a great rest of your holiday season. I can’t wait to work together in 2019!


November 14, 2018

Sneak Peek of the Safe States 2019-2021 Strategic Map
The Safe States Executive Committee and staff have been working diligently over the last several months to update the association's strategic priorities. In this new vlog, Lindsey provides a sneak peek of Safe States 2019-2021 Strategic Map and reveals the top five priorities for the first 12 months. The Executive Committee and staff are in the process of creating metrics and selecting implementation activities, all of which will be revealed in greater detail on an all member webinar in February.

Learn more about Safe States Strategic Map here and be on the lookout for opportunities to get involved.

September 20, 2018

Renewed commitment to continue hard conversations.


The Safe States Annual Meeting was great for so many reasons—the sessions, the people, the meeting location, the low country food, and celebrating our 25th anniversary! I had the opportunity to attend terrific sessions on leadership, health equity, data, and communication. But I was particularly inspired by our closing plenary: The Intersection of Racism, Violence, and Trauma. First, it was a great example of how the Safe States community functions as a team. When our planned speaker was unable to make the session at the last minute, staff and meeting participants worked together to create an incredible “live podcast-style” panel session moderated by Executive Committee Member, Mighty Fine. The panel openly discussed historic and present-day racism as a root cause of violence and shared their efforts to address community-level trauma, build resiliency, and prevent structural violence against youth. To say I was motivated and challenged at the same time would be an understatement.


I was particularly impressed with Jailen Leavell, a youth intern at the University of Louisville’s Youth Violence Prevention Research Center, who talked about his experience building a positive racial identity by exploring history that goes beyond what school books teach. Jailen reminded me how important it is to engage youth and made me think about how Safe States could do a better job recruiting student members and involving youth voice in our meetings and work.


This panel also renewed my commitment to continuing hard conversations about racism and recognizing my own privilege as a white person. Since returning from Charleston, I have talked with many of my colleagues in Colorado about how we can work to address the structural causes of violence and how we can more authentically engage communities in our work. This panel gave me hope that real change is possible.


Of course, none of this would be possible without all of you! Thank you to all of you who attended and shared your programs, ideas, and experience with your fellow injury and violence prevention practitioners. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the Safe States staff and the 2018 Annual Meeting Planning Committee for planning and hosting such a wonderful meeting! I look forward to all that next year has to offer when we return to Atlanta, September 11-13, for Safe States 2019.


August 15, 2018

Renew your commitment -  Resolve to contribute - Realize our strength together

25th Anniversary Fundraising Challenge


The Executive Committee is issuing a fundraising challenge in honor of our 25th year. We are asking all members to renew their commitment by resolving to contribute at least $25 so we can realize our strength together as advocates for injury and violence prevention. Last year, we raised over $4,000 through donations and our annual raffle to help support our Policy Fellows Program . This year donate $25 to expand our advocacy efforts and help us reach our goal of $8,000. The Executive Committee is committed to reaching this goal and will s-t-r-e-t-c-h your donation by matching dollar for dollar every $25 donated up to $2,500.


Many of us have our dues covered through a sponsoring organization - a hospital, state or local health department or other non-profit. In lieu of holding a silent auction, as we have in years past, we ask you to contribute support by donating at least $25. If every Safe States member contributes, we will raise $13,000, far exceeding our goal!


We are proud of the work that our staff and members do to promote the importance of our field and educate policymakers about the value of preventing injuries and violence. Advocacy work such as the Policy Fellows Program and Hill Day are great professional development opportunities for our members. Please, help us expand our efforts by contributing what you can. Go to to give today!  


July 18, 2018

Calling all members – your voice and engagement is needed.

The Safe States Executive Committee election is in full swing! We have a great slate of candidates for President-elect, Vice President, and Member at Large. Please take a moment today to access the ballot survey and cast your vote! In addition to the Safe States Executive Committee election, the survey contains four proposed changes to the Safe States Bylaws.


The bylaws govern how we do business. The proposed bylaw changes include an update to our membership dues structure to simplify it, reflect our diverse membership, and ensure equity across the different segments. Additionally, we would like to formally include the Secretary as a member of the Executive Committee’s Management Team. You can read more detailed summary of the proposed changes here.


Not sure who or how to cast your vote? Don’t worry, you have options to only vote for the issues and Executive Committee positions you feel comfortable with. Even selecting, “I choose not to vote” helps us get to the number of responses we need for a quorum. The deadline to complete the ballot is July 31, 2018.


Also, if you have not done so already, make sure to register for the Safe States Annual Meeting! Online registration closes on August 24th and rooms at the Francis Marion Hotel have to be booked by August 13th. Current and new Executive Committee members, committee chairs, SIG chairs, and staff will be kicking off the week by participating in a strategic planning session to update our Strategic Map for the next three years. I look forward to sharing the new Safe States Alliance 2019-2021 Strategic Map in October!



June 19, 2018

Just do it – Run for an Executive Committee Position

When I first ran for the Safe States Executive Committee in 2013, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. As a member, I enjoyed the networking and professional development opportunities available. However, I hadn’t considered a position on the Executive Committee until a colleague of mine encouraged me to run. The prospect of being able to broaden my own experience, while helping Safe States members have a voice at the national level was attractive to me. Still, I worried I was too inexperienced to be effective and was concerned the time-commitment might be too much.


I had served on some local and state level non-profit boards, but never at the national level. I remember that colleague telling me that being part of the Executive Committee would not only allow me to learn more about how associations and non-profits work, but the opportunity to have a better understanding about injury and violence prevention from the national perspective. And now ten years after joining Safe States and five years after my first Executive Committee position, I am so glad I didn’t listen to my self-doubt and just decided to run.


I have learned so much over the last five years in various Safe States Executive Committee roles. I certainly have a better understanding and appreciation of membership associations and 501c3 organizations. I’ve been able to help shape the strategic priorities for an organization that can influence policy in a way that I can’t in my job. Amazing mentors, like Binnie LeHew, showed me the ropes and made what seemed impossible possible. Safe States staff continue to inspire me with their dedication and commitment to our members and improving the practice of injury and violence prevention. I can truly say that serving on the Safe States Executive Committee has been one of the best professional development opportunities of my career.


Now, it is your turn! We are accepting nominations for President-Elect, Vice President, and three At-Large Member positions until COB on Friday, June 22nd.  Yes, I realize this is a mere two days from when you are reading this, but the nomination form will not take you long (if you haven’t done so already). Consider this your nudge to just do it! Our current Executive Committee comprises members from local and state health departments, hospitals, universities, and other national organizations. I love that we have an Executive Committee that really reflects our membership and hope that we will have candidates from all of our membership segments. Please contact me if you have any questions, no matter how big or how small! I can easily be reached at or  


May 16, 2018

Get Re-energized - Looking Forward to Safe States 2018 Annual Meeting


Spring is a busy time for most of us. Grant season is in full swing; many state legislative sessions are ending; school is getting out for the summer; and you need to get your sprinklers running ASAP. If you are anything like me, it is easy to start feeling a little burned out with so much happening. Whenever I feel myself getting tired, I try to think of something to look forward to that I know will help me re-energize.


In about a week, we will be opening registration for the 2018 Safe States Alliance Annual Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina. It could not come at a better time for me. Nothing gets me refocused and invigorated like booking a trip, and I am extra excited because I have never been to Charleston. Our theme this year is “Renew. Resolve. Realize.” It will provide a perfect opportunity to renew my passion for injury and violence prevention, as I attend sessions and learn from all of you, who are doing such great work across the country. It will strengthen my resolve to apply innovative approaches to addressing shared risk and protective factors associated with multiple forms of injury and violence and will motivate me to collaborate across sectors to realize our collective goals.


As always, we have two great pre-conference sessions. Paul Bonta will be leading an Injury and Violence Prevention Federal Policy 101 Workshop designed to help injury and violence prevention professionals to enhance their knowledge of the policy and advocacy arenas. Additionally, there will be a pre-conference session on Mindful Leadership. This session will not only will be a great professional development opportunity for growing your leadership approach, but also provide space to explore how to create an adaptive learning culture where deep listening, dialogue, and collective discernment shape transformative action. I highly encourage you to register to attend one of these exciting sessions.


Safe States will also be releasing the call for 2018 award nominations next week. This is a great opportunity to recognize and honor your colleagues’ contributions to Safe States and their commitment to the field. I would love to see many nominations this year! Start thinking about who you would like to recognize!


April 18, 2018

Seizing new opportunities - putting Safe States at the forefront of the national conversation

Injury and violence prevention topics have always been covered in the local news. However, our issues are front and center at the local, state, and national level in new and exciting ways. Stories about the opioid overdoses, firearm deaths, and sexual assault are not just one-time news stories covered one day and forgotten the next. These stories are sticking. Communities are engaged. Funders are starting to pay attention. We want the Safe States Alliance to be in the forefront of these conversations.


Last week, the Safe States Executive Committee brainstormed ideas for topic areas that Safe States should prioritize when developing new partnerships and pursuing funding opportunities. Executive Committee members identified the need to expand partnerships related to firearms, opioids, and sexual assault. We discussed the need to build on and sustain the momentum around the “Me Too” movement and the national discussion on firearm safety, including advocating to incorporate suicide prevention into the conversation. We also discussed the need to bridge the gap between the clinical environment and public health by continuing to provide leadership to encourage the adoption of our Hospital Injury Prevention Standards.


Our organization is unique because we have injury and violence prevention practitioners from a variety of disciplines. I would love to hear your thoughts on emerging issues you see as an opportunity for Safe States to play a leadership role. What ideas do you have for moving the needle on the priority areas the Executive Committee discussed? Please share your thoughts with me at or give me a call at 303-692-2589. 


March 21, 2018

Getting to know Rich Hamburg, Safe States New Executive Director.


I spent the last week meeting with Safe States' new Executive Director Richard "Rich" Hamburg in Atlanta. In addition to orienting Rich to the office and staff, we met with funders and partners at the CDC. Throughout the hiring process I have had an opportunity to get to know Rich and am very excited for what he brings to the organization. To help you get to know him better, I did a short Q and A session with him. Find out the three most important things you should know about Rich; what excites him about his new position and more in our Q and A session.


What excites you most about your new role as Safe State Alliance Executive Director?

I am honored and excited in this role to lead a dedicated group of members, volunteer leaders and staff committed to strengthening the practice of injury and violence prevention. I am equally excited about the opportunity to further expand Safe States’ “brand recognition” on the national level, with a goal of solidifying our position as a primary voice providing leadership in advancing the field. 


What is one opportunity you think Safe States should pursue right away?

The time is right now for pursuing expanded diversification – of funding sources, of membership, and of collaborations and external relationships.


What are the three most important things for Safe States members to know about you?

1) I am a consensus builder, most comfortable working with partners and partner organizations to achieve common goals. 2) I am a strong proponent of the power of promoting policy change and educating local, state and federal policymakers as a tool for expanding the public health impact of injury and violence prevention. 3) Last, but not least, never underestimate the power of a sense of humor. 


It is the bottom of the 9th, bases are loaded...what song plays as you walk up to the batter’s box?

Great question for a lifelong baseball fanatic!  For sure, it’s John Fogarty’s Centerfield – “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today.”


You can surely see why Rich was identified as a great candidate for the position. I am optimistic about Safe States' future with Rich's leadership and hope you are too!


February 2018

Gun violence is not a political issue. It is a public health issue.


Last week, another tragic mass shooting occurred; this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Our hearts are broken again for the students, parents, and educators in Florida. These events are difficult to hear about and take in—time and time again—especially for those of us who work in the violence prevention field. But, gun violence is not a political issue. It is a public health issue. We can use strategies proven effective for other public health issues to reduce gun violence in our country.


A colleague reminded me of a great article that appeared in a 2013 issue of JAMA, Curbing Gun Violence: Lessons From Public Health Successes. The authors highlight multiple strategies that were effective in reducing tobacco use, unintentional poisoning for children, and motor vehicle safety. Many of the strategies that could be applied to prevent gun violence are the exact things that youth in Florida and around the country are calling for as they use their voices to express the need to take action. As heartbreaking as this school shooting is, I am inspired by the young people who are channeling their grief to educate all of us on what can be done to prevent tragedies like this one. It stresses the importance of incorporating positive youth development strategies into our violence and injury prevention work so that we can be part of empowering youth with the knowledge and skills they need to advocate for change.


Let's help empower others to use grief for good. 


January 2018

Our Future Looks Bright

Happy New Year! For those that have been following the hiring process for Safe States’ new Executive Director, I am happy to report that we are nearing the finish line. After an extensive review process by the selection committee, the Executive Committee Management Team held interviews with the top four candidates in Atlanta last week. We were amazed and honored to meet such high caliber candidates and share about the great work all of you do. We are finalizing our decision and making an offer this month and hope to have our new Executive Director at the helm in February. Thank you for your patience with this process and your continued support of Safe States.    


May your 2018 be filled with much success and happiness!


December 2017

Investing in advocacy


Thanks to you, Safe States has raised $4,228.58 in donations during 2017 to support our Policy Fellows Program and other advocacy work! This is the highest level of donations Safe States has received in recent history, and we hope to reach $5,000 through end of the year donations. These dollars are so important to helping our organization achieve our mission to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention and crucial to helping me as a state injury and violence prevention director.


I depend on Safe States to keep me up-to-date on what is happening in Washington D.C. I need Safe States to advocate for the federal prevention funding that enables my state to work on decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors associated with multiple injury, suicide, violence, and substance abuse-related outcomes.

Over the last year, Safe States has increased its visibility on the Hill by leading several Dear Colleague letters and hosting congressional briefings in collaboration with our Injury and Violence Prevention Network (IVPN) partners. These efforts help keep our issues at the forefront during federal policy and budget discussions and is one of the reasons I value my Safe States membership.


During 2018, Safe States will continue to be actively involved in advocacy and policy by continuing our work at the federal level, while strengthening the support we give to our members to bolster state and local level policy efforts. There is still time to make a special year-end donation of $10, $20, $50, or whatever you can afford, to help us get to a record-breaking $5,000 in donations for 2017. Your support will help Safe States expand its political influence to advance injury and violence prevention throughout the country.


Happy Holidays, everyone! 


November 2017

With many thanks


Next week families, friends, and communities across the country will gather to share food, swap stories, and express gratitude. This year has been a difficult one for so many people with opioid overdose and suicide deaths continuing to rise, several mass shootings, and reports of sexual violence. Our members know that these are not new issues and I am so thankful to have colleagues like you who work tirelessly to address injury, suicide, and violence prevention across the social ecology every day.


I am also thankful that our issues are getting a lot of attention in national and local media. It is an opportunity for Safe States and our members to influence policy and educate about best practices to address overdoses, suicides, gun violence, sexual violence, motor vehicle crashes, and other important issues. I find real hope in knowing that states and local communities are actively working with multidisciplinary partners to come up with solutions to complex problems. I recently learned that Research!America promotes “Public Health Thank You Day” on the Monday before Thanksgiving to recognize public health professionals for all of the work they do on so many issues. I would like to join them in recognizing the work that each of you do to reduce injury and violence. Thank you!


Also, I want to provide just a brief update on where we are at in the hiring process to select the next Safe States Alliance Executive Director. The position closed last week and we received 77 applications. It is a testament to the great work that Safe States does as an organization that there are so many people eager to be part of it. Over the next couple of weeks, the selection committee will be determining which applicants will be interviewed. The Executive Committee Management Team is hoping to do in-person interviews with top candidates in early to mid-December. Thanks again to the wonderful Safe States staff for continuing to support our members and organizational work while we conduct the search for the new executive director.

Happy Thanksgiving!


October 2017

Embracing Change and the Opportunities It Brings

I love change--the excitement of starting something new, not knowing what will come next or what opportunities will be just around the corner. When I was elected President-elect over a year ago, I did not anticipate I would have the opportunity to help select a new Executive Director for our organization. I will be honest, when Amber first told Binnie and I that she was resigning after 14 amazing years, my first thought was, “Well, crap. How in the world are we going replace Amber?” The truth is, we can’t “replace” her. Amber was an incredible leader for the Safe States Alliance and will be, without a doubt, just as amazing in her new role with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO).

After Amber’s news had a chance to sink in, I remembered, I love change! Although it will not be easy to find an Executive Director as great as Amber, the Safe States Alliance is stronger than ever. Amber is embracing the excitement of change that comes with accepting a new job and we have the chance to view this change as an opportunity to improve upon the foundation that Amber helped build.

The Safe States Alliance has talented staff, committed members, and a great future ahead. I am honored to serve as your President during this time of transition and am committed to designing a hiring process that will help us find a new visionary leader, who can continue to grow our membership and advance the field of injury and violence prevention.

Today, I am pleased to announce the official launch of our search for the new Safe States Executive Director. I ask all Safe States Alliance members to help recruit candidates by reviewing the job description and passing it along to your networks. We will be accepting applications at through November 8, 2017. I am in the process of forming a selection committee, comprised of five individuals representing different segments of our membership. The selection committee will develop criteria to score and review applications, and refer three to six candidates to the Management Team. In early December, members of the Management Team will conduct in-person interviews with the top candidates and recommend the top candidate to the full Executive Committee for approval. If all goes as planned, we hope to have a new Executive Director by January 2018.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Susan Hardman, our Interim Executive Director, and all the Safe States Alliance staff for ensuring that we continue serve our members and move the organization’s work forward during this time of transition. I would also like to thank all our Executive Committee members for their ongoing efforts to set strategic direction for the Safe States Alliance.

I am so proud to be a member of the Safe States Alliance and am excited for what will come next! I know we will be able to turn this unexpected change in leadership into an opportunity to further injury and violence prevention efforts by becoming a stronger and more influential organization.

President's Blog

A few words from our President Binnie LeHew, MSW, the Executive Officer for the Office of Disability, Injury & Violence Prevention at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

September 2017 President’s Blog

Sweet Endings and New Beginnings

Summer is over; and with that fall brings back busy schedules and juggling between work, family activities, and the overabundance of vegetables in my garden! It is a beautiful time in the Midwest. Attendees to our Annual Meeting in Colorado were treated to some beautiful weather, a glimpse of the Rockies, and plentiful opportunities to reconnect with peers and sharpen your skills.

Our schedule was full of diverse topics in injury and violence prevention, and some great keynote speakers. The closing session featured successful partnerships with gun owners to prevent firearm injuries and deaths, and was highlighted by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s remarks about the importance of working with atypical partners in those efforts. Presentations will be posted on the Safe States website here in the coming weeks as they are cleared to share.

I hosted a fundraising challenge for our new Policy Fellows Program. Five individuals will spend the next year learning and practicing skills in policy education under the guidance of our Government Relations Consultant, Paul Bonta. Between raffle contributions and member commitments to support this program, we raised enough funds to sponsor one policy fellow – just over $3,000! My thanks to all who donated, and especially to the Executive Committee, who helped by raising half of the final total. We still need your support! If you didn’t contribute or could not attend the meeting – you can make a secure, tax-deductible donation here. Be sure to designate it for our Policy Fellows Program. 

The end of September marks the end of my term as President and the beginning of Lindsey Myers’ term. I will remain on the Executive Committee as Past President for another year. I want to express my appreciation for all the great staff at Safe States who do such fine work and support us volunteers so capably. I appreciate the time and dedication of our Executive Committee members – who make being in leadership fun and rewarding. I am excited about the experience and perspectives that Lindsey will bring, and know she will be a strong leader to keep us moving forward!

And, finally, I want to wish a fond farewell to Amber Williams, our Executive Director. We have been fortunate to benefit from her passion, strategic vision, and remarkable leadership during her tenure. She leaves behind big shoes to fill – and warm footprints in our hearts. Please, if you haven’t already done so – drop her a quick line to share your gratitude and best wishes for her new position at ASTHO. The Executive Committee is pleased that Susan Hardman is willing to serve as our Interim Executive Director and will help us maintain the forward momentum we’ve had during this recent period of growth and change. The Management Team plans to have a search committee in place by the end of this month, with the hope of filling the Executive Director position by the end of December. Stay tuned for more updates!

Have a safe and colorful fall – and don’t ever hesitate to reach out to your leadership to tell us your ideas and opinions!

August 2017

Rise-up: Protect Innocence from Hate

Last week, I went on my annual trek to the Iowa State Fair with my grandkids in tow. We visited every single tractor and farm equipment display, saw newborn farm animals, and experienced a “day on the farm” doing various chores such as planting, harvesting, milking a cow, and taking our produce to market. For these little city slickers, it was the closest they’ll get to life in rural America since they have few relatives who still farm for a living.

The next day, the events in Charlottesville replaced that sweet pastoral memory. I was glued to the newsfeeds and FB posts on my phone throughout the weekend. I know someone who lives in Charlottesville who simply asked for prayer and calm for her hometown. I am still disheartened from my own realization that despite all the condemnation of hatred and pleas for tolerance that have risen from this violence, there is an underbelly of vile hatred and anger that has been unleashed and continues to grow.  

What will it take for us, as individuals, to be courageous enough to face our own demons of fear and insecurity so we don’t need to project it onto others? How do we begin to “own” the vast political schism that separates us from others and leads us to assume that anyone or any group that is different – be it skin color, culture, religious belief, or political persuasion – is wrong or to be destroyed? I refuse to believe that my grandchildren will be raised to believe that violence against others or continual war in this world is the only solution. Now, more than ever, I expect leaders in our communities, states, and this country to not just speak out about, but demonstrate tolerance, respect, and cooperation to bring us together in a spirit of unity.  

And to that end, my friends and colleagues – much of my hope for my grandchildren’s futures lies in the actions that all of you do every day in your own neighborhoods, cities, and states to promote programs and policies that are proven to reduce violence against individuals and communities. You forge relationships through persistence and civility, bringing together people who share a common vision of safety for all. Your leadership, heart, and courage lift me up when I am discouraged. Thank you – and I look forward to seeing many of you next month in Colorado at our Annual Meeting!

July 2017

My summer break is over!

I took a hiatus in June to “get hip”, as my spouse describes my new metal body part. My grandkids, on the other hand, decided that I’m a robot!  Whatever you call it, I am glad to be solidly back on both legs with reduced risk for a fall and renewed vigor for this month’s blog. There is so much going on that I want to highlight what you can look forward to if you are also getting back to work after a summer break.

August recess is coming up! If you haven’t already been communicating regularly with your Congressional Representatives and Senators, now is the most important time to do so. You can and should attend the all-member webinar tomorrow (July 20) to find out how to get involved. This is an ideal time to invite them to attend a partner meeting or special event that you or your local partners may be hosting. It will give them a firsthand look at your efforts and provide a lasting impact when we ask them to support the work of the CDC’s Injury Prevention Center during discussions about FY18 Appropriations. Please remember – whenever you have contact with congressional members on behalf of Safe States and injury and violence prevention – please let Paul Bonta know!!

Annual elections for Safe States Leadership are now open!  We have a great slate of candidates, so please submit your vote for Secretary, Treasurer, and At-Large Members of our 2017 – 2018 Executive Committee. Voting will close on August 4.

We are gearing up for the Annual Meeting in Colorado, September 12 – 14th. Even if you missed the deadline for early registration, it is not too late to plan to attend! Here are the top 5 reasons I think everyone should be there:

#5:  There are 19 breakout sessions that offer state-of-the-field information on injury and violence prevention research and practice. One example: a session that will address the intersection between mental health, substance abuse, and injury prevention – all fields that impact the work we do for opioid abuse prevention and violence prevention!

#4: Practitioners of all levels will be able to strengthen their workforce skills at any or all of the “Essential Skills” sessions that cover basic competencies for the field of injury and violence prevention!

#3: Attend an inaugural meeting of one of the five National Peer Learning Teams that will be debuted on Wednesday!

#2: Be inspired by each of our keynote sessions starting with how to weave Health Equity into our work, address Suicide Prevention on a national level, and address (sh-h-h-h!!!) Firearm Violence from a public health perspective.  

And, finally – the # 1 reason why you should attend the annual meeting:

To network with your colleagues from across the country and have a chance at winning fabulous raffle prizes!

I look forward to seeing you in Colorado!

May 2017

The One Certainty is uncertainty

I’ll be honest - this has been a tough month. Between the unexpected laws passed in my state’s legislature to budget reductions in critical programs and the uncertainty of future health care legislation, I find myself shaking my head a lot. It seems the one certainty is continued uncertainty…. and that makes my head spin! Staying on task with the important work to be done in our field can be daunting. I keep thinking how incongruous these changes seem to be with what I believe to be true about government, and have experienced working in public health with my injury and violence prevention colleagues.

I love this work and the people with whom I have collaborated for more than 20 years. I feel fortunate to be in a field with so many who have shaped the way our policies and communities have demonstrated real impact in reducing injuries and violence so the world we live in IS safer for everyone.  People who are not afraid to roll-up their sleeves and get dirty in the muck of complicated work and relationships that force us to stretch our expectations and our advocacy. Most of my colleagues have been driven by a sense of purpose around the role of government as an equalizer, an assurance that data would drive decisions so the needs of the many can outweigh the needs of the few. I am confused and angered by politicians who think government workers are greedy fat cats who want to leech off the taxpayer. In my twenty years of service, I have worked alongside mission-driven public servants who use resources wisely and use the best available evidence, along with community input, to be effective. Honestly, there is nothing ulterior about my motive: I believe that living in a democracy requires us to have a public sector that provides a foundation of services to all, and assures public trust by using resources wisely.

May is National Mental Health Month and April was Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month. I am focused on the disrupted relationships that impact generations of families and their ability to cope with daily challenges or weather the storms of life. We know that people exposed to poor housing conditions, lack of adequate health and mental health services, and experience racial inequities fare far worse than others living in different neighborhoods or fortunate enough to have good health care. It is not a matter of just working harder, toughing it out, or pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. When the playing field is not equal, the game will always be rigged for those who have greater resources and power. If we truly want to live in safe, nurturing communities – why don’t we want everyone to succeed? As humans, we can shape our environment; we can make the world better for everyone. I refuse to give in to those who believe that survival of the fittest should drive our resource allocations and the ones who have the most toys wins the game.

I don’t want to end on a hopeless note; I am sure you can read my righteous anger and frustration.Frankly, it is not in my nature to give up, and I like to look at the possibilities rather than the roadblocks.I also experience many of my IVP colleagues in the same way. I love that we are able to work collectively through Safe States – there is strength in numbers. Your hard work and dedication motivates me and helps me not feel alone. Thank you. And on that note - I hope next month is better!


April 2017

Springing into Action

The return of warmer weather, blossoming trees, and baseball is a sure sign spring has finally arrived! While there never seems to be a “down” time at work anymore, I always appreciate the extra boost that results from longer days, fresh air, and sunshine. I hope you do, too.   

There is much happening with our association! Many committees are in full swing and hard at work. To that end, I want to highlight a few things:

  • You may have noticed that Susan Hardman joined us in January as our Deputy Director. I am so pleased to have her serving in this new position – not just because of her rich experience with state and national public health work, but also because of her strong commitment to our association. Susan is a Past President, whose leadership guided us through an important transition during her tenure. I hope you’ll get to know her well in this new role!

  • A lot is happening with the Annual Meeting preparations! I hope you are planning to submit an abstract or poster session to share the impact of the great work you do – a reminder that the deadline for submissions is April 28th. We’d love to have a diverse mix of topics and approaches represented. This year, nominations for our annual Innovative Initiatives will be managed through the abstract submission process, so don’t forget to submit your recommendations.    Also – please consider volunteering to review abstracts so we can have a wide range of experience and perspective! 

  • If you are from a state not funded by the Core SVIPP program and you do not have sufficient funds to travel – please consider applying for a scholarship to attend the Annual Meeting. That deadline is May 12th, and we want to see you there!

Finally, I want to offer a big shout out to all of you who reached out to your Congressional delegates in our effort to get the “Dear Colleague” letter in support of funding for the CDC/NCIPC signed. Despite the fact that we had to cancel the March Hill Day visit, your contacts helped us get 16 members of the House to sign on. If you were not able to help then, there is still time to contact your Senator. We have until April 25th to get as many signatures as possible on the letter sponsored by Senator Schatz (HI). If you haven’t joined the Safe States Grassroots Action Inspiration Network through our closed Facebook page – please send a request by clicking above or contact Amber to be added. We need your voice for our collective impact!

Thank you all for the important work you do every day. The contributions of our members and staff inspire and support the work I do on behalf of our Association!


March 2017

“A day without….injuries”?

This is the time of year when our weather flip flops weekly; even daily – when the March lion and lamb go to battle and we try to keep up with the tension between the early signs of spring and the retreat to winter. My eating habits range from cravings for comfort foods to fresh green salads. I have begun to use a stock phrase when someone asks me about my day: “Every day is a new adventure!” While that’s a very noncommittal statement – change is definitely in the air!

How many of you were hard at work on the recent days that promoted “a day without immigrants” or “a day without women”? If you were, I hope you noticed the stories that arose out of the news coverage of those who participated. It was a powerful reminder of what people can do in just one day, with intention and focus.

Please read about our campaign to get broad Congressional support for a “Dear Colleague” letter in Paul’s News from Washington. After much deliberation about the challenges faced by public employees (who make up a large part of our membership) to do direct advocacy with their lawmakers, the Executive Committee decided to commit to an all-out effort to encourage your involvement. We have held brief calls with Committees and Special Interest Groups to explain the campaign with explicit asks for your help. We will hold all-member calls later in March to provide additional support for your participation – including one that will be scheduled during evening hours. We are providing templates for an email that you can send AND that colleagues, friends, or family members could send on our behalf. The simple reason for this: we cannot progress in our efforts to gain policy support for injury and violence prevention until we convince them of the value, importance, and impact of our work. My challenge to you – can you express the impact of your work in just 3 to 5 sentences? Your story could make all the difference in educating a policymaker about the value of what we do.

To meet our goal, we have done two things: 

  1. Amber has set up a secret Facebook page that will allow members to join the “Safe States Grassroots Action and Information Network.” It will be a place where you can get information and freely discuss your efforts and successes for this campaign. If you are interested in joining, just email Amber to tell her you want to join, and give her the name you use on your FB account. Only members of Safe States are eligible to join.

  2. We are offering an incentive to see which state sends the most emails to their Congressional members – and also succeeds in getting their Representative & Senator to sign on. Read the upcoming Action Alert for more details!

“A day without injuries” is possible, if we raise our voices together in support of the important work we do. Won’t you please throw your hat in the ring?


February 2017

How do we continue to do our work in the face of uncertainty?

During this month’s Executive Committee meeting, the board took some time to discuss the question “What are the implications of the new White House administration for Safe States Alliance and our members?” This was our attempt to get a “pulse” reading on what is happening in our states, communities, hospitals and academic institutions related to transitions in political leadership and identify what we, as an association, can do to move our mission and vision forward.    

We discussed how this transition was different or the same as others; what our concerns and anxieties are; what opportunities it provides us; and the kinds of changes we may need to consider as an organization. It was a valuable discussion and our Executive Committee members felt it was important for me to convey to our membership some of the efforts we are making.

First, I hope you’ve been reading our News from Washington. Paul Bonta’s updates provide everything you need to know to effectively educate local, state, and national leaders on the value of our work in injury and violence prevention and the successes/impact that our work has. Please read and respond to those requests for action – as we, individually and collectively, are in the best position to champion the importance of the work we do, every day, to keep people safe!

Second, we recognize we don’t yet know a lot about changes to the Affordable Care Act or to potential federal funding proposals. It is easy to maintain a constant level of anxiety in light of all the different news being provided. We shared some of the creative ways people are managing that, and recognize that ups and downs are nothing new to our field – whether we deal with bills that erode helmet laws or adjust to the loss of funds for a core injury program – many of us must face these challenges routinely.   So, how do we turn that into actionable steps? 

There was resounding agreement that we have opportunity to convey the importance of what we do in new ways – perhaps conveying the economic cost to our work which we didn’t have a few years ago or explaining that public safety is more than just a strong police force – it also includes preventing injuries and violence. We also believe there is a new grassroots energy present in our communities that may be a resource for us to engage new and different partners. Several Executive Committee members agreed to develop some specific tools to help us tell our stories and keep our work at the forefront of other public health discussions also occurring. We are considering hosting calls/webinars to provide more specific guidance on how you can use your voice, and engage others to help amplify it.

So – stay tuned, this is only the beginning. And remember – keep calm, and carry on – so we can persist together in the face of uncertainty!


January 2017

Shout Out & Be Heard

This month hallmarks a big transition in federal government, with a completely new administration being installed. If you haven’t seen it yet, please read our INside Washington written by Paul Bonta. This month’s I want to capitalize on the way we, as members, can respond to his call to insert our voice into the discussions.

We know our members work in a diverse array of injury and violence prevention programs and organizations. Some of you can do direct advocacy on behalf of your programs or agencies, but many of us cannot; And for those not sure, a description of restrictions and allowable activities of CDC grantees can be found here:

As a state employee, I thought it might be helpful to walk you through what I typically do when I receive a congressional “call to action” in my inbox – such as the kind that Paul has issued to us today. After reviewing request, I consider if I can offer information specific to the topic. Can I use or highlight a recent data report issued by my program to provide some context for the issue in my state? Have we recently done any programmatic activities we want to showcase, or have we expanded partnerships to impact project outcomes? Once I identify something, I pull together a few key points and illustrate them with a story, a data fact, or an impact. If it is something that I have previously shared with my administration or publicized, I’ll describe it and include a link to the information. Many times, our program successes become part of our Director’s “Quick News,” which is distributed widely to local public health, as well as state and federal health policymakers. At other times, I request permission to send it directly to a federal agency or congressional offices and partners with whom I have made previous contact – those who know what work Iowa is doing and want to be kept informed. There have also been times that I have sent an email from home on my own time using publicly available information on my program to let my elected officials know what impact their decisions have had on everyday Iowans. The example below is a recent one:

Iowa received funds from the Administration for Community Living between September 2014 and August 2016. With an investment of $450,000 from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, almost 2,000 older Iowans participated in evidence-based falls prevention classes aimed at reducing their risk of falling. Data received from class participants indicated that from the beginning of the class to the end, 215 fewer people reported they experienced a fall with an injury. With the average hospitalization charge at $28,486 to treat a fall for a person over 65 in Iowa, $6.1 million in hospital costs were saved. That is a huge return on investment in prevention and an improved quality of life for those Iowa seniors.

The time I take to complete this process may take as little as 20 minutes for something previously prepared or as much as an hour of my own time to pull the story together and send it. I feel strongly that because of the work we do, we may often be the only ones to share the real value of injury and violence prevention programs. As Paul said, “At minimum, we have an important role to play in injecting a needed voice into the ACA repeal discussion by sharing how we improve health status through our work.” I urge you to not stand on the sidelines and be a “collective whisper” during this transition time, but to “shout out” what we know to help shape the conversation. Please, send in your stories!

Key points from the CDC lobbying restrictions guidelines

Allowable activities:

  • Educating the public on personal health behaviors and choices.

  • Research on policy alternatives and their impact.

  • Working with other agencies within the executive branch of their state or local governments on policy approaches, and on implementation of policies.

  • Educating the public on health issues and their public health consequences.

  • Educating the public on the evidence associated with potential policy solutions to health issues.

  • Working with their own state or local government’s legislative body on policy approaches to health issues, as part of normal executive/legislative relationships.

  • All other activities noted below under “Non-Government Grantees.”


Not allowable:

Federally-funded lobbying activities are prohibited, including:

  • Encouraging the public or other entities to support or oppose specific action proposed or pending before the Federal government, including the US Congress, often referred to as grassroots lobbying.

  • Encouraging the public or other entities to support or oppose specific legislation or executive action proposed or pending before the state or local government, often referred to as grassroots lobbying.

  • Direct lobbying of the US Congress.

  • Direct lobbying of a state or local legislature, other than certain communications in the course of normal executive-legislative relationships.

  • Advocacy to perpetuate or increase their own funding from the Federal government.

  • Developing materials that exhibit:  **(1) reference to specific legislation or other order; (2) reflecting a point of view on that legislation or other order; and (3) containing an overt call to action.




December 2016

All I want for Christmas – an open letter to state and federal policymakers

In honor of the season, I’ve been working on my wish list for the holidays. As you think about and prepare for the many issues that will come across your desk in the coming year, I want to share some good news about the work my colleagues do every day to keep Americans safe and violence-free.

We are federal, state, and local injury and violence prevention program directors/coordinators who work to reduce the burden of injuries and violence across this country. We do this because injury and violence accounts for 59% of all deaths among people ages 1-44 years in the U.S. – more than non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases combined! Another way to look at it – during 2014, one person died from an injury every three minutes in the U.S. There are an additional 2.5 million people who are injured each year and survive – costing $457 billion in medical and lost work costs.  (Source:

Over the last three decades, we have implemented many strategies to reduce injuries and violence before it occurs – to save lives, make homes and communities safer, and reduce disabilities associated with injuries. Here are some real-life examples:

  • A local health department partnered with a school district to promote training on youth concussions with coaches in athletic programs. They worked together to assure that the schools had a policy and procedure to take kids out of play after a concussion and determine when it is safe for them to return.

  • Every month, a local automobile dealer hosts trained child passenger safety technicians to help parents assure their children are properly fitted in their car seats. The local hospital also offers this service to parents of newborns.

  • An older woman living alone was referred by her doctor to a community-based falls prevention class after she reported she had fallen at home. After 6 weeks, she was able to walk without fear of falling and began regularly attending an exercise class at her church.

  • A young man at a college party saw another male escorting a woman to a bedroom who was so drunk she couldn’t walk. He remembered a discussion he’d had in his orientation about bystander actions and asked his friend to help him get her home safely.    

What do these successes have in common? They resulted from public/private partnerships in which non-profit organizations, businesses and governmental agencies worked together to identify data, resources, and actions they could take to make their communities safer and reduce the incidence of injury and violence. Using this public health “community-based” approach, cities and states across the country have been able to reduce deaths and hospitalizations resulting from motor vehicle crashes, child maltreatment, and other types injuries. 

Without the infrastructure of public health that exists in state and local government, these impacts would not exist. Partnerships, data, shared resources, and evidence-based studies help us achieve our mutual goals.

Now, we ask you to help us fulfill our wish for a safe Christmas for all. For a small investment in prevention, you can make a huge impact to support the safety and wellbeing of our citizens. If we ignore prevention, our businesses and communities will pay far more in the long run for related costs of health, disability, and the loss of productive lives. Please help us by giving the gift of safety this year!


November 2016

Keep Safe, and Carry On….

I have been thinking of that WWII motivational poster (“Keep calm, and carry on”) this past week as our post-election turmoil continues. From unending political analysis to protest marches and increases in hate-crime incidents, we are reeling from an election that was, by all reports, the most unique and challenging in our entire nation’s history.

What does that have to do with our association? Well, as experts in our field, we have worked hard to keep our communities safe and reduce the burden the cost of injuries and violence has on the nation’s health. We have a huge stake in the conditions that promote safe and violence-free communities. I have been very discouraged by the impact negative and polarizing campaign tactics have had on our ability to have civil public discourse on issues that truly matter for all of us, regardless of our race, citizenship status, religious faith or political affiliation. We have a lot of healing to do, and it will take every one of us to lead the way in our own organizations and communities. 

The impact the new administration will have on budget and policy issues that concern us is uncertain; however public health has been identified as a critical area to maintain in the workforce. This opportunity provides us the impetus to lift-up what we know about the impact injuries and violence have on health and the cost of healthcare in our country. If there were ever a time to articulate our priorities and needs to those who establish public policy, the time is certainly now!       

Another opportunity we have is related to Dr. Jay Butler, the new Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) President, and his 2017 President’s Challenge. He has challenged the states to strengthen public health approaches to preventing substance misuse and addictions, and their related consequences. These include:  

  • Reducing the stigma and changing social norms related to substance use and addiction,

  • Increasing protective factors and reducing risk factors in communities,

  • Strengthening multi-sectoral collaboration,

  • Improving prevention infrastructure, and

  • Optimizing the use of cross-sector data for decision-making.

Many of our states have already been doing this work with finding support from the CDC. Something our colleagues at ASTHO are very interested to learn more about is the nature of the work that public health is doing in partnership with substance abuse treatment and prevention programs. Safe States is an Affiliate Organization to ASTHO, and I represent our association on their Senior Deputies Committee.   These are some of the questions that have been raised:

  1. Is there strong collaboration occurring between injury and violence prevention programs and substance abuse treatment and prevention programs? 

  2. How are the prevention approaches distinguished from the data- and treatment-related work?

  3. What models show promise in incorporating a broad framework that addresses acute events to managing chronic conditions and impacting social determinants? 

I have offered to share information our members provide as we move forward to tackle this issue in bold ways. Please feel free to send me your input; we will also discuss this on an upcoming State Director’s Special Interest Group call.

In closing, I want to offer my gratitude for the community that I feel among my injury and violence prevention colleagues. Truly, you are the ones who know what is required to tackle the big issues that face us with limited resources and little support. You generously offer your knowledge and support without concern for recognition or reward. I wish you all courage and stamina as we collectively strive to keep safe, and to carry on.

September 2016

This post marks the end of my first year as President and I want to acknowledge some important transitions. Carol Thornton has finished her term as Past-President and Lindsey Myers begins hers as President-Elect. I am fortunate to be “bookended” by people of great character and intelligence, and I thank them for their service!!

Last month I mentioned the President’s Work Group. During the September Board Meeting and Retreat, our Executive Committee discussed and voted on their recommendations, which I am pleased to share. The recommendations focused on key actions to help Safe States realize our vision and mission, while we develop and realign our financial resources, maximize and support our human resources, and assure a culture of continuous quality improvement. We decided to take a smart risk, betting on our staff and volunteer expertise, our infrastructure, and our reputation – by making a three-year commitment to invest limited funds from our reserves to strengthen these and expand our fundraising, policy, and partnership efforts for strategic future growth.

The steps for the coming year include:

  • Supporting increased time for our Executive Director to devote to fundraising, government relations, and partnership development.

  • Realigning staff time to reduce or eliminate lower priority work, allowing for more focus on efforts aligned with our mission and priorities. This includes creating a new staff position for a Principal Deputy Director to oversee both programmatic and personnel duties. 

  • Implementing plans for a fully virtual office by October 2017, reducing our office space expenses.

  • Investing in technology and infrastructure needs to support the virtual office, while improving quality and efficiency.

More details and specific changes will be shared with you in the coming months, but it will not change the availability of staff to respond to your inquiries and maintain up-to-date information on our website.  We earnestly believe these changes will provide a supportive environment for our hard-working staff to continue to provide the excellent services you’ve come to expect. I want to acknowledge the time and planning staff contributed to the preparation of background materials to help guide our decision-making process.

And, finally – please make note that the 2017 Annual Meeting will be held in fall 2017 rather than spring.  We hope this will be a more amenable time in light of typical spring workloads, holidays and other meetings attended by Safe States members. Stay tuned for more details from our Annual Meeting Planning Committee in the coming months; if you would like to serve on that, please let us know.

As always – if you have any questions or ideas you’d like to share with me related to the work of our Association, I’d love to hear from you! Next month I’ll share updates from this past week’s international injury and violence prevention conference (Safety 2016) in Tampere, Finland. Happy Fall.




August 2016

Preparing for the road ahead

I’ve been reflecting on the many successes Safe States has to celebrate.  Recently, the CDC announced the 23 states awarded the Core State Violence & Injury Prevention Program – three more than previously funded. We are currently awaiting word on new states to be added to the 32 who are part of the National Violent Death Reporting System and additional state recipients of recent Prescription Drug Overdose grants. This is evidence of increased recognition for the need to invest in stronger violence and injury prevention resources in our states – and is certainly a “win” for the great work we’ve been doing to educate policy makers and government agencies about these needs. All of you who have been diligent in providing information to your state and federal policymakers about our pressing issues deserve a big pat on the back for your efforts!

In light of these recent successes and this year’s unprecedented number of funding opportunities Safe States has been seeking, our Management Team recognized the need to do a review of our current operations and financial structure to see if we are well positioned to respond to emerging needs in our field. Earlier this month, I convened a “President’s Workgroup” bringing together several past presidents, our new President-Elect and senior staff to do some reflection and forward thinking about how we are positioned as an organization and where we believe we need to be in the next five years.



Pictured (left to right): Linda Scarpetta, Lori Haskett, Alex Kelter, Susan Hardman, Binnie LeHew, and Lindsey Myers

We began by walking through Safe States’ historical timeline and marking key periods of growth, including the types of activities in which the association is now involved. We also discussed challenges facing the organization, including human resources, technological, fiscal and structural constraints. As a result, we have identified steps both staff and the board can take to align our strategic direction better with the resources we expect to have going forward. While we are not quite ready to broadly share the next steps, as more research and discussion with the full Executive Committee is needed, I wanted to keep our members abreast of the process and to be on the lookout for more updates as the plan is formulated.  Finally, I want to say how impressed I am with the honesty, passion and commitment that senior staff and the presidents gave to the discussion throughout the two-day process. We recognize changes can be anxiety-producing, but our organization has been through changes in the past that have only made us stronger and better. We expect that as we move forward, this will continue to solidify the vitality of our association. Stay tuned!  





July 2016 

Love will always win 

The last few weeks have raised our country’s alarm, again, about the impact of gun violence on safety in our communities and the worth of the victims impacted. The tragedy of lives lost and injured in Orlando has resulted in a rallying cry for gun control/gun safety amongst the political discourse and vows to stand up for those who may be targeted. I have personally been moved by the thousands upon thousands of people who have used social media and active demonstration in their communities to spread the word that hate loses and love will always win. It is this kind of response that gives me faith in the spirit of community more than anything.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the Washington Post ran a good story with FAQ’s about the rise in gun violence and the public’s attitude about gun rights vs. gun control. Two were particularly poignant: 1) where there are more guns, there are more homicides and 2) active shooter events have become more common in recent years. The FBI defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” The average number of annual active shootings has increased from six to 16 per year. Surveys indicate there are more people who support gun rights than ever before while the popularity of gun control has been declining. However, a survey conducted by Pew Research found there are specific policies that many people support; these include background checks, assault weapons ban, and a federal database to track guns.

I mention this because of the work that Safe States Alliance has done to promote firearm safety. Recently, the Executive Committee approved a position statement that advocates policy actions on the accountable sale and transfer of firearms. We believe these actions can be a “win-win” for both gun rights and gun safety advocates. I hope you will read and use this information to support your work in the coming months as you meet with policymakers or civic leaders about safety in your communities.

I would like to end this month’s blog with a recognition of one of our colleagues, who recently made a career transition. Ellen R. Schmidt – the first President of STIPDA (now Safe States Alliance) - left her position with the Education Development Center/Children’s Safety Network after nearly 19 years. She started her career as an occupational therapist, and worked in the Maryland Department of Health & Hygiene to direct their first injury and violence prevention program. Ellen didn’t want to patch people up after the fact; she dedicated her life’s work to prevention. Ellen served on many national advisory groups and worked tirelessly to improve safety conditions for children. A colleague of mine spoke with me about her view of this transition – and it is, indeed the passing of a torch. Ellen, I don’t believe your torch will burn out anytime soon – so I give you a blessing that you have given to others – “Stay well, be happy, and laugh a lot!”



June 2016

Summer is in full swing!

Spring is in full bloom and summer breezes are blowing; I’ve been attending graduation celebrations as another school year comes to an end.  It’s hard not to want to be on “summer vacation” even though it has been many years since I had my summers off! Many of us in state health departments had a very busy spring with grant applications and state policy activities – so hopefully, as we move into summer you all can enjoy a lighter schedule.



I thought I would provide a brief update on projects staff and volunteers have been doing. 


Safe States will conduct two STAT visits this summer – one to North Dakota in June for their second visit and the other to Minnesota in August for their first visit. Both states hope to gain insights into strong aspects of their state injury and violence prevention programs as well as areas for improvement. 



Through a contract with the Association of State & Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Safe States has been working on a project with the CDC’s RPE Program. The project’s purpose is to enhance State Health Departments’ abilities to strengthen their sexual violence prevention infrastructure to support the successful implementation and evaluation of their RPE programs. As a part of this project, Safe States is producing a series of stories from the field to highlight aspects of state programs that are doing strong work in this area. Those are expected to be released later this summer. 



Staff has been busy developing additional proposals to support our desire to strengthen hospital-based injury prevention programs and further expand our work with the Joyce Foundation related to violent deaths. 



As your President, I have participated on the Sr. Deputies Committee of ASTHO and their Peer Networking calls to provide input on injury and violence prevention strategies in health departments.  Additionally, I have held regular conference calls with SAVIR’s President, Carri Casteel, who also lives in Iowa!  We’ve been working on ideas for partnering between the two organizations and are developing a joint workgroup we expect to launch this summer – so stay tuned! 



As always, I welcome your thoughts and your ideas to help strengthen our association.  Have a great month!


May 6, 2016

Every member’s voice matters!

At the annual meeting in April, the Executive Committee met with our Government Relations Consultant, Paul Bonta. Paul has been working with our association for over a year to help us advance our policy priorities. He helps guide the work that we do to convene the Injury and Violence Prevention Network.  We are fortunate to have Paul on staff as he has really dialed up the presence and focus of our policy work in Washington. Last year, when the Executive Committee developed the three-year strategic map, we committed to supporting key activities of developing policy and advocacy resources, educating decision-makers to advance the field, and magnifying our voice through collective policy strategies.

The good news is that we are seeing a time when our priorities are receiving strong national attention – there are many partners engaged in support of our work and we have witnessed increased focus and resources to address emerging areas such as prescription drug overdose and violent death reporting. If there ever was a time when our issues are receiving Congressional attention, it is now. 

The down side? Our effort to get broad support for a “Dear Colleague” letter in both the House and Senate supporting the need for core injury and violence prevention funding failed. The barrier? An insufficient grassroots response.

Your Executive Committee members spent time at our meeting to identify important steps that the association needs to take in order to realize the impact that Safe States can have on policy change for our field. Here are some of the takeaways I wanted to share with members:

  • For our organization to be truly successful in our policy efforts, each member must be willing to extend his or her voice to reach key policymakers in your state.

  • There is no limit to what you can do, as a member of the association, when you are speaking on behalf of yourself as an individual and not as a representative of the organization in which you are employed. You are free to contact your Congressperson or Senator using personal email, phone or in-person contact as long as it is outside the boundaries of your paid employment.  Just as we advocate for everyone to exercise their individual right to vote – we also have the right to contact our Congressperson or Senator to express individual opinions and positions on important issues.

  • You, as state or community-level practitioners, have valuable experience and perspective to share with your elected officials. Members of Congress don’t have the expertise on injury and violence prevention, so this offers you the perfect opportunity to contact and educate them, which helps advance Safe States’ policy agenda. Keep in mind – if you don’t provide that information, there is no guarantee anyone else will.

  • Making contact with your elected officials is not rocket science; rather, it is a simple process of building relationships.

Safe States has developed many resources to assist you in this work. If you don’t already have a fact sheet that describes the work happening in your state to prevent injuries and violence, develop one. There are templates you can use and colleagues in neighboring states who can assist you in preparing and providing this information to elected officials.

Here is my challenge to each and every one of you: step up your game; identify and take at least one specific step that includes outreach to educate and get to know your national elected officials. I am committing to contacting my Congressman and Senators at least quarterly by providing updates on our work and inviting them to key events in our state. I also commit to asking my colleagues and partners to do the same – in order to magnify the reach and influence that I can have. 

Will you join me? If so, please remember to let Paul know about your key contacts and the information you communicate. He will be more than happy to follow-up with your delegation the next time he is on the Hill in Washington.



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