March 2016 Learning Collaborative Meeting

The two-day convening was full of experiential opportunities for Healthy Neighborhoods partners to learn about and practice new approaches and skills. On March 29, convening participants engaged in a walking tour and human-centered design process which generated ideas to address community challenges at locations in the Brownsville neighborhood. On March 30, Healthy Neighborhoods partners gained strategic and effective communication skills to keep residents, partners and other stakeholders informed and engaged in their efforts towards health improvement. Convening participants included partners from the nine Healthy Neighborhoods sites, the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), the New York Community Trust (NYCT), Active Living By Design (ALBD), and other partner organizations.

Participant contact list

Slides and resources from the meeting sessions are hyperlinked within the agenda below.


Tuesday, March 29  I  Brownsville Neighborhood  I  2:00 – 7:00 p.m.


Brownsville Neighborhood, Brooklyn: Community Design Process with Partners

The afternoon featured a real-time human-centered design experience hosted by Community Solutions and the Brownsville Partnership. Participants explored locations in the Brownsville neighborhood and learned about specific place-making and built environment strategies for health, including Belmont Corridor, Mother Gaston Boulevard and Rockaway Avenue’s Youth Market. During this learning experience, participants were grouped into small design/learning teams, and visited and heard from community partners about particular neighborhood places and spaces that are priorities for the Brownsville Partnership’s work. Each team returned to The Gregory Jackson Center for Brownsville and collectively generated ideas to address the design challenges discussed at each location. The session was an opportunity for learning and contributing for participants and Brownsville partners alike.

Welcome and Overview

  • David Sandman, President and Chief Executive Officer, New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth)
  • Rosanne Haggerty, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Solutions

Human-Centered Design Experience

  • Paul Howard, Senior Director of Knowledge Sharing (KnoSh), Community Solutions
  • Kashay Sanders, Neighborhood Coach, KnoSh, Community Solutions
  • Garen Nigon, Solutions Advisor, KnoSh, Community Solutions
  • Group leaders from the Brownsville Partnership/ Community Solutions staff include Dania Cristobal, Emmily De Los Santos, Layman Lee, Taurean Lewis, Yvette Rouget, Karrie Scarboro, Toni Diaz

Networking Dinner

The Gregory Jackson Center for Brownsville
The dinner event was a time to share reflections and insights from the neighborhood design process, as well as for informal conversations and networking with partners from fellow Healthy Neighborhoods sites, NYSHealth, New York Community Trust, Active Living By Design, NYU Evaluation Team and other invited guests.


Wednesday, March 30  I  Urban Health Plan, Bronx  I  9:00 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.


Smart and Strategic Communications to Transform Healthy Neighborhoods

Effective communication across partners, residents, decision makers and other stakeholders can make the difference in whether initiatives thrive and have impact in communities. Spitfire Strategies led a highly interactive workshop during which participants gained:

  • An understanding of each component of a successful strategic communication plan;
  • A clearly articulated objective for their current work;
  • Identification of defined target audiences that they need to reach in order to support their goals;
  • An understanding of how to create messages and identify messengers that will connect with their target audiences;
  • A framework for their ongoing communication work; and
  • The ability to make better, more strategic decisions to increase the impact of their initiatives.

Speaker biosketches

Slides and resources from the meeting sessions are hyperlinked within the agenda below.

Welcome, Reflections on Day 1 and Overview of Day 2

  • Lourdes Rodriguez, Program Officer, New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth)
  • Barbara Taveras, Special Projects Officer, New York Community Trust (NYCT)
  • Rosa Agosto, Chief Talent and Learning Officer, Urban Health Plan

The Smart Chart Communications Planning Tool

  • Mark Dessauer, Vice President, Spitfire Strategies
  • Jennifer Carnig, Vice President, Spitfire Strategies

The Smart Chart is designed to break down each step of the communications planning process as participants develop their own strategic communication plans. The workshop featured a combination of presentations, discussions and hands-on exercises that participants can apply to their real work.


Lunch, Cross-site Networking and Action Sessions

Healthy Neighborhoods partnerships with support from NYSHealth, NYCT and Active Living By Design (ALBD) Staff

The session gave participants an opportunity to share a meal with partners from other Healthy Neighborhoods sites, and continue to engage in networking and shared learning. This was a time for participants to identify opportunities for cross-site collaboration related to one of the affinity topics/strategies below.

Notes from the sessions:

  • Healthy Food Retail—supermarket closures, initiatives such as Shop Healthy, NuVal, Healthy Bodega;
  • Healthy Markets—food co-ops, food box programs, farmers’ market incentive programs such as Double Bucks;
  • Parks—capital investments, programs to activate spaces;
  • Active Transportation—biking, complete streets, plaza program.

Communications Skill-building Breakout Sessions I and II:

I: The Smart Chart: Skills to move from planning to implementation

Mark Dessauer, Vice President, Spitfire Strategies

II: Storytelling: Communicating the impact of your initiatives

Jennifer Carnig, Vice President, Spitfire Strategies

Building from the session in the morning, participants had the opportunity to refine particular communication skills and tactics. Participants chose to further their work on the Smart Chart in order to move from planning to implementation, or develop skills to capture and tell stories about the impact of their initiatives.

Reflections and Input from Participants

Spitfire Strategies and ALBD Staff
Healthy Neighborhoods sites and partners were called upon in this interactive session to share their reflections from the meeting and identify exciting and promising actions to take in their communities.

Next Steps and Closing Remarks

  • Bronwyn Starr, Program Officer, NYSHealth
  • Irfan Hasan, Senior Program Officer, Health & People with Special Needs, NYCT