2017 Creating Healthy Schools and Communities Convening:
Creating Healthier NY Schools and Communities Through Innovation, Integration, and Motivation

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the 2017 CHSC Convening and helped make it a success! The Convening, held on March 21st22nd at the Crowne Plaza in Syracuse, brought together the CHSC community to foster collaboration within and across grantee teams, and to develop skills related to communication and CHSC-specific deliverables. This summary includes key points and materials from each session.
  • The Program included speaker biographies and an agenda for the two-day event.
Day 1 Summary
Welcome from NYSDOH and OPCE

Maureen Spence, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Community Chronic Disease Prevention at NYSDOH and Tammy Calise, Director of the OPCE welcomed the group to the second annual CHSC Convening. View Maureen’s welcome address slides here

Getting to Know Your CHSC Team: Exploring How Different Work Styles Complement Each Other

Certified MBTI instructor, Tammy Calise, provided an overview of the Myers-Briggs personality types and led the group through exercises to demonstrate the different viewpoints and mental processes of each personality type. Attendees received their team report highlighting how different team members’ personality types work together. Attendees learned how everyone is able to take in, process, and use information in different ways, but may prefer to do it in a particular way. Understanding differences within groups can strengthen a team’s ability to work together and can also facilitate communicate with external stakeholders. View slides from the MBTI presentation here

Celebrating Year 1 Successes: CHSC Evaluation Results

MJ Pattison, a Program Research Specialist at NYSDOH, provided an overview of evaluation metrics from Year 1 of the CHSC grant. MJ also shared themes from Catalyst narrative data to highlight challenges and successes related to CHSC goals. View slides from the evaluation presentation here.

Communicating Success: Understanding and Adapting to Different Communication Styles

Following up on their tour of New York State during the 2016 Regional Meetings, Gina Maree, President, Innovative Leadership Strategies LLC, and Teresa Schwab, President, Arnavon Strategies, LLC returned to talk about different communication styles and reaching productive discussion and consensus even when personalities may conflict. The session focused on the importance of storytelling—creating effective messaging that resonate for a range of stakeholders—and emphasized that audiences often remember brief, compelling stories instead of lengthy presentations, data, and reports. View their presentation slides here

Team Reflection and Planning: Applying Day 1 Activities to CHSC Work Plans

The Day 1 sessions wrapped up with grantee teams taking time to reflect and think about how the results of their MBTI team report and the storytelling session could inform their CHSC work. Several teams noted their intent to continue these discussions after returning home to plan how to incorporate insights gained at the Convening.

Contact OPCE at if you and/or anyone from your team misplaced your team report and would like another copy.

Networking Reception

Coordinators had a chance to network at an after-hours reception. Many took this opportunity to find answers to the scavenger hunt and meet others doing innovative work to make their schools and communities healthier. Congratulations to Moria Byrne-Zaaloff for being the first person to finish the scavenger hunt!

Day 2 Summary
Early-morning Zumba

Early birds started the day with a Zumba® Fitness class led by Laura Ruggiero, a JSI/OPCE team member who will be filling in for Amanda this summer as TA Lead for grantees in the Western, Central and Capital regions. Laura, a licensed Zumba® Fitness instructor, led the group in a 45-minute session that woke everyone up before the day got started.


Innovations in Strengthening the Food System

Jonathan McNeice, Director of Healthy Communities, and Beth Machnica, Healthy Communities Catalyst, at Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) facilitated a session for community coordinators and partners focusing on innovative food access strategies. Attendees created their own Food System Map and Stakeholder Wheel to identify players in their local food system. Participants then identified gaps in their network of stakeholders, while others provided ideas to address gaps. Shelly Wells of Chautauqua County Health Network provided a case example of preparing for a food systems assessment of the county, one of the eight Communities of Opportunity chosen by Growing Food Connectors. View the slides from Jonathan and Beth’s presentation here; slides from Shelly’s presentation can be found in slides 58-72. Attendees also received printed materials from BNMC, which can be downloaded in this zip file.

Taking Complete Streets to the Next Level: Mobilizing Support to Pass or Strengthen Local Policies

Robert Johnson, Director of Consulting at PedNet Coalition, and Justin Booth, Executive Director of GObike Buffalo and Principal at Make Communities, led a session on Complete Streets policies. The session broke into two groups based on level of experience with passing Complete Streets policies and with the policy development process. A rubric to assess policy strength was shared with attendees. Robert also led the group in an activity to practice conducting one-on-one stakeholder meetings (see interview guide) to garner support for the passage of a Complete Streets policy, and offered some examples of how to respond to common concerns. View Robert’s slides here and the policy guide Justin presented that he developed for the village of Gowanda here

Awards Ceremony

Over lunch, OPCE announced the four CHSC Peer Nomination winners: 

  • CHSC Innovation Award: Brent Irving, Capital Roots
  • CHSC Leadership Award: Sarah Bentley-Garfinkel,                                 St. Lawrence County Health Initiative
  • CHSC Impact Award: Carrie Steindorff,                                               Rockland County Department of Health
  • CHSC Collaboration Award: Cheryl Brannan,                                         Nepperhan Community Center

Community Coordinator TED Talks Panel

To wrap up Day 2, four community coordinators participated in a TED Talk-style panel highlighting innovative and successful CHSC implementation activities.

  • Maureen Blanchard from SUNY Cobleskill talked about the work being done to engage a food bank as a site to implement nutrition standards. Working in a rural part of the state with fewer traditional worksites, Maureen has been creative in seeking partners and organizations to support healthy food service guidelines. 
  • Will Malcolm from Capital Roots discussed the process of trying to get a healthy retail ordinance passed in Troy and Albany. Will noted the opportunities for sustainability, yet addressed the challenges as well.
  • Cheryl Brannan from Nepperhan Community Center highlighted the importance of engaging community organizations and partners focused on increasing accessibility for persons with different abilities in CHSC efforts, particularly around Complete Streets.
  • Maggie Veatch from NYC DOHMH discussed its ongoing commitment to engaging the community to promote health equity in Brooklyn.

You can view slides from the presentation here and a handout highlighting these successful case studies here.


Training of Trainers: Make the Grade with Wellness Policy

School coordinators participated in an in-depth six-hour session with Shannon Vogler and Stephanie Joyce from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This Training of Trainers (TOT) prepared coordinators to deliver their own three-hour professional development workshop for school staff and partners. The Make the Grade with Wellness Policy training aims to support schools, as they implement USDA’s Final Rule requirements related to local wellness policies. View slides from the session here. In addition, school coordinators now have access to materials from the TOT in this PD Toolkit document that can be used to implement workshops. All resources in the PD Toolkit document can also be accessed via Health-e-Link.


Throughout the Convening, CHSC coordinators participated in regular physical activity breaks, including brief Zumba lessons. All food served adhered to healthy meeting guidelines as established by NANA (the chia pudding (view a sample recipe, not from the hotel) was a huge hit). We were proud to show that eating healthy can be fun and tasty too!

Thank you again to all who participated at the Convening. We look forward to seeing you again soon!


Copyright 2017 Obesity Prevention Center for Excellence, All rights reserved.

This project is supported by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) under grant # DOH01-CHSCA-2014. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by NYSDOH.

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