Justice and Society Program

Excellence in State Public Health Law

Kathleen Sebelius, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services, gives the keynote address at an ESPHL Leadership Retreat in Washington, DCThe Justice & Society Program, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, recently concluded its work with teams participating in the Excellence in State Public Health Law (ESPHL) program, which ran from August 2013 through August 2014. The program brought together teams of public health officials, state legislators, and government attorneys from eight states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington. Over the course of the year, they expanded their expertise on public health law and policy while developing and executing projects that advanced key health priorities in their respective states. 

The ESPHL Advisory Committee is composed of distinguished individuals from the fields of state government, public health, and the philanthropic sector. The Advisory Committee assisted with the team selection process, linked participating teams to resources for technical assistance, and joined the team members at leadership retreats in Glen Cove, NY (August 2013), San Diego, CA (January 2014) and Washington, DC (August 2014). These retreats included opportunities for teams to network with technical assistance resources for their projects, get to know their counterparts from other states, and hear presentations by leaders such as Kathleen Sebelius, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services; Christine Gregoire, former Governor of Washington and a leader in litigation against the tobacco industry; and Hank Cardello, author of Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat.

The ESPHL program equipped policymakers and agencies to more effectively address public health issues and become leaders in creating healthier states. The program also strengthened public health law collaborations among state officials and state-level policy-makers, and increased these leaders’ effectiveness on public health issues in their respective states, including working across party lines and government agencies and branches.