Frequently Asked Questions
Health Action Together Collaborative Action Network
A project of Community Partners
On This Page
What is Health Action Together and what will it do?
Health Action Together is a non-profit public-private partnership leading and supporting cross-sector efforts to reduce inequities across Sonoma County.
- Vision: A Sonoma County where a person's skin color, zip code, or place of birth does not determine their health, education, or income.
- Values: equity at the center, upstream focus, community-led, integration and collaboration, and striving for shared outcomes.
Health Action Together seeks to achieve its vision by integrating efforts at the community level with those at the system level in order to achieve the greatest impact.
- Address inequities in our community by driving policy, institutional, and resource and investment changes.
- Create change efforts where decision-making and power are shared among populations impacted by inequalities and local government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and businesses that want to support them.
- We will develop a shared Agenda as our roadmap for change. The initial work of Health Action Together will be the creation of an “Agenda for Action” informed by the Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update report findings and guidance from communities most impacted by inequities. We will develop an equity-centered process where affected communities outline goals, priorities, and actions to reduce disparities. The Agenda for Action will serve as a roadmap to direct institutional, political, philanthropic, and community-based efforts and resources. Health Action Together will use this roadmap to focus its efforts.
- We will focus collective action on system interventions, one priority area at a time. Shifting the systems that produce inequalities is outside the purview and capacity of any one entity. It requires multiple stakeholders working together across sectors to focus investment and efforts. We will use the Agenda for Action to identify the priorities where collective action is needed to transform systems and reduce inequities. We will prioritize one system-level effort at a time. We will align partners, build political and institutional commitment, and activate change, embracing the unique roles of multiple stakeholders. When that effort becomes embedded in the community, we will move on to the next priority area.
- We will scale grassroots and local-level action. Support for communities closest to the issues and the CBOs serving them will be a priority. Communities hardest hit by inequities are the experts in their local needs, preferences, and strengths. Health Action Together will support local action groups in charting their course to launch new efforts and strengthen existing efforts.
Governance and Decision Making
Why did Health Action 1.0 need to surrender its status as an advisory body to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors?
The County of Sonoma established the Health Action Council as an advisory body to the Board of Supervisors in 2008 as a venue for cross-sector collaboration among stakeholder leaders committed to addressing health disparities. Health Action has successfully served as a local catalyst for breaking down silos and collaborating across sectors to improve health and well-being in Sonoma County. However, many people recognized that this legacy structure of HA 1.0 cannot sufficiently address the magnitude of inequities we face today in Sonoma County. They saw the need for a new approach that focuses on equity, centers community in design and decision-making, and addresses the systemic causes of many compounding issues.
These are the reasons for proposing a new structure for Health Action Together as an independent entity. County government and other institutional leaders must continue to be part of this work, but community members must also be part of the leadership table and must hold equal power and decision making authority to achieve authentic, systemic change. As part of establishing Health Action Together as a new, separate entity with a new leadership structure, the existing Health Action structure and governance must sunset.
Health Action Together is now under fiscal sponsorship by Community Partners.
Who is the Health Action Together fiscal sponsor and where do things stand with the 501c3 application process?
Health Action Together has gained nonprofit status through fiscal sponsorship by Community Partners. There are many advantages to fiscal sponsorship for a startup organization, including back-office financial and human resources services and support. This is enabling Health Action Together to remain focused on and committed to building the infrastructure needed to lead the development of the Agenda for Action.
Current Health Action Together Interim Board members as of April 2022:
- Oscar Chavez, Assistant Director, Sonoma County Human Services Department
- Cathryn Couch, Chief Executive Officer, Ceres Community Project
- Jason Cunningham DO, Chief Executive Officer, West County Health Centers
- Alegria De La Cruz, Director, Sonoma County Office of Equity
- Karin Demarest, Community Advocacy Leader
- Becky Ennis, Executive Director. SOS Community Counseling
- Nora Mallonee-Brand, Interim Board Lead, Health Policy, Planning, and Evaluation Manager, Sonoma County Department of Health Services
- Evette Minor, Community Advocate, Santa Rosa Health Action Chapter Lead
Members of the Health Action Transition Team and Portrait of Sonoma County Leadership Team came together in early 2022 to explore how to engage the community in creating a new Agenda for Action in response to the Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update report. These conversations made clear the need to merge these projects and led to consensus for Health Action Together to lead this work. Two local partners committed seed funding to this effort. At the same time, Health Action Together needed to establish an advisory board of directors as part of transitioning to nonprofit status under fiscal sponsorship.
Members of both leadership teams developed the interim governance structure for Health Action Together, identifying the need for a combination of representatives from the Health Action Transition Team, Portrait of Sonoma County Leadership Team, grassroots/local action groups, County government, and other institutions. Building board membership is still in progress. The Interim Board is assessing current gaps and seeking recommendations for additional members.
As the interim leadership for Health Action Together, the Interim Board is focused right now on standing up a new organization. Every person involved on the Interim Board understands and agrees that the new organization’s governance must reflect and embody the shared values of equity at the center, upstream focus, community led, integration and collaboration, and striving for shared outcomes. Long-term governance will be decided by a work group made up of Interim Board members, Health Action Together staff, and other partner and community members as informed by the Agenda for Action.
The Health Action Together Founding Interim Board is very aware of the importance of transitioning from an interim leadership group to a permanent governance structure. Board members are taking the time to think this through as the Agenda for Action is being developed. Rest assured that the long-term governance structure will be driven by Health Action Together values. The Interim Board invites and welcomes feedback about this transition, which are so vitally important to the foundation of Health Action Together. Now that this new organization has an executive director, work on the long-term governance of Health Action Together will begin in the near future. This work group will look at models around the country while also learning from the wisdom of the local community through the Agenda for Action process.
Who will be at the decision-making tables of Health Action Together and how that will be determined?
The Health Action Together Interim Board is guiding Health Action’s transition to an independent nonprofit with public and private sector partners. Health Action stakeholders who served on the Transition Team and Portrait of Sonoma County Leadership Team members make up this board. These two leadership groups merged to carry forward the task of implementing Health Action Together and the next steps in response to the Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update report. Both efforts are being informed and shaped through extensive community and stakeholder input. One of the first tasks of Health Action Together is planning and leading the development of a new Agenda for Action in response to the Portrait’s updated findings about disparities in health and well-being in Sonoma County.
Health Action Together will establish a permanent governing board to oversee and manage the public-private entity. Health Action Together’s shared values of equity at the center, upstream focus, community-led, integration and collaboration, and striving for shared outcomes will be central to determining the leadership structure of this new entity. This process is under development, will be informed by the Portrait of Sonoma County and Agenda for Action, and will center the experiences of our most impacted communities.
One initial and critical way for community groups and members to be involved is through the development of a new Agenda for Action in response to the Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update report findings. Health Action Together is launching an equity focused, community engaged process to develop the new agenda that will guide the focus areas for HA Together and support grassroots and local-level action. Sign up for information about creating the new Agenda for Action and updates about Health Action Together by emailing HA2.0SonomaCounty@gmail.com.
What will be the process for adding community members to the governance structure and what will be the decision-making process?
This is still to be determined. Keep informed by subscribing to Health Action Together email updates (HA2.0SonomaCounty@gmail.com) and check these FAQs regularly.
How To Get Involved
How can existing Health Action members and partners get involved in the launch of Health Action Together?
There are several ways partners can contribute to this work, which will lead to determining who is part of the Health Action Together decision-making table:
- Participate in the development of the Agenda for Action in response to the Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update and commit to sharing accountability in activating the new Agenda for Action, which will shape the initial focus of HA Together. Stipends will be available to support community members participating in this process. More details about this are coming soon.
- Participating in one of the work groups:
- Secure Startup and Implementation Funding
- Develop the Agenda for Action
- Design Health Action Together long-term governance structure
- Create Health Action Together communications strategy
Contact Health Action Together leadership at HA2.0SonomaCounty@gmail.com to let us know how you would like to be involved!
How will a new structure of power sharing be created by bringing in new people while also keeping those who have been participating involved?
It is essential for those who have been part of Health Action 1.0–including those with power and influence–continue their participation, buy-in, and sense of accountability to ensure Health Action Together does more to reduce inequities and reverse years of disinvestment.
Many community-based groups in Sonoma County are doing impactful work with communities most impacted by inequities. Because these groups are highly trusted and understand different communities’ needs, they hold important knowledge about how we might change the conditions and decisions that have led to gaps and inequities. Historically these groups and communities have not been meaningfully included in institutional and government efforts to improve health, well-being, and equity—including Health Action 1.0. Too often local institutions make decisions without the critical input of impacted communities because those institutions lack the mechanisms to solicit and listen to the experiences and recommendations of people with lived experience.
Health Action Together will bridge the gap between on-the-ground trusted community groups and local institutions in the following ways:
- Developing the Agenda for Action with recommendations led by those who are systematically and structurally marginalized.
- Ensuring inclusivity and diversity of community members involved in developing the Agenda for Action.
- Ensuring a diverse makeup of the Health Action Together Governing Board.
- Gaining buy-in and commitment from the community, policymakers, institutions, and decision-makers to endorse and share accountability in implementing the Agenda for Action.
Existing Health Action 1.0 committees and initiatives
The leadership and members of existing Health Action committees and initiatives are exploring options for continuing their important work separately yet aligned with Health Action Together. This FAQ will be updated once these explorations are concluded.
Standing committees of Health Action 1.0:
- Cradle to Career continues to convene as a multi-sector partnership focused on educational attainment. An ad hoc group of Cradle to Career members are meeting to explore C2C’s future structure and options for staffing and financial support to continue important work focused in the areas of kindergarten readiness, academic success, and college and career readiness. Currently, C2C is moving towards a blended backbone structure with multiple organizations responsible for different backbone functions.
- Equity in Education Initiative
- The Committee for Healthcare Improvement is working to improve health and well-being to ensure access to better coordinated, person-centered health care. CHI is exploring a new structure and affiliations to sustain health and social care collaboration in Sonoma County into the future.
- Hearts of Sonoma County (HSC) is a multisector health initiative of the Committee for Healthcare Improvement focused on preventing heart attacks and strokes, reducing premature death and disability, and improving health equity in Sonoma County. Along with all major clinical provider organizations, Hearts of Sonoma County members include non-clinical community-based partner organizations addressing a range of strategies including nutrition education, food and nutrition security, physical activity, and strategies for linking patients to community resources.
- Accountable Communities for Health/CACHI Health Action has participated in the California Accountable Community for Health Initiative since its inception in 2016. CACHI has provided funding, technical assistance, collaborative learning, and resources to support communities like Sonoma County in building and sustaining the critical elements for our community to become healthier, more equitable, and resilient. Accountable Communities for Health equip communities to work together toward equitable change through multi-sector collaborations, community voice, and active alignment. What is an ACHI? Learn more here. Health Action Together is the manifestation of all that partners have learned collectively through CACHI about becoming an authentic Accountable Community for Health. This learning can only be put into action through an independent, transformed Health Action.
Local action and systems change
Health Action 1.0 Chapters continue to work in and support their communities and serve for the betterment of Sonoma County. You can get in contact with your local chapter to learn more about their work via their related websites below. If there is no website for the chapter of interest, please contact Michael Tinoco to get connected with the appropriate representative.
- Cloverdale Health Action Chapter
- Corazon Healdsburg
- Russian River Area Resources and Advocates (RRARA) - Lower Russian River Area
- Community Health Improvement of the Petaluma Area (CHIPA) - Petaluma and Penngrove
- Gravenstein Health Action Coalition (GHAC) - Sebastopol, Graton, Occidental, Bodega, and Bodega Bay Area
- Sonoma Valley Collaborative
- Santa Rosa
- Windsor Wellness Partnership
Local action groups are essential to the work of HA Together and its foundational values of centering equity and community voice. There are many community-based groups in Sonoma County doing impactful work that are trusted in their communities, understand the needs, and can address gaps, yet are not often included in institutional and government efforts to improve health, well-being, and equity. Health Action Together seeks to be a leader in helping to bridge this gap between on-the-ground trusted groups and institutions.
Chapters are local action groups that have been an integral part of Health Action 1.0, linking Health Action 1.0 efforts across the county. Each chapter is unique in identity and purpose, having emerged at different times in response to different needs. All chapters serve as valuable hubs within their communities, providing services and meeting local needs.
Existing chapters have also participated in the transition of Health Action 1.0 and are committed now to exploring their own evolution, as well as to focusing on people and communities most impacted by systemic inequities in Sonoma County. Health Action Together is committed to continue lifting up the chapters’ work as local action groups and to supporting them through this transition with continued convening support through June 2023.
Health Action Together budget priorities also include funding to support and amplify collaborative local action groups around key priorities identified in the Agenda for Action. This may include some chapters that are working in areas and with population groups experiencing the greatest disparities as informed by the Portrait of Sonoma 2021 Update.
That is up to individual Health Action Chapters to decide. Several existing chapters have expressed a desire to continue to work together and to align with and support the collective work of Health Action Together.
How will Health Action Together create a sustainable process to support collaborative work locally that will make a countywide impact?
Throughout the Health Action transition process, one clear message from stakeholders and community members emerged: institutions created to serve the public too often make decisions without the critical input of impacted communities, without being informed by those with lived experience of the most intractable inequities in Sonoma County.
That is why Health Action Together will act as a catalyst in the following ways:
- Align commitment, resources, and effort around a shared Agenda for Action that will serve as a guide to address inequities identified in the Portrait of Sonoma County report. The Agenda for Action will build recommendations around the aspirations and assets of local communities.
- Support and empower action at the grassroots level, cultivating a network of local action groups working together toward their communities’ aspirations and goals.
- Focus cross-sector collaborative interventions at the system level, identifying and removing the systemic obstacles that prevent progress and perpetuate inequities.
- Bridge the gap between trusted community groups and systems-driving institutions.
Will the local action networks be working on a city/town level similar to the regional Health Action 1.0 Chapters or by census tracts to match the Portrait?
Like many aspects of Health Action Together, many of these details will need to be worked out as the Agenda for Action community engagement process unfolds. Communities most impacted by inequities will be engaged to give their input on priorities, goals, and actions to reduce disparities. The Agenda for Action will serve as a roadmap to direct institutional, political, philanthropic, and community-based efforts and resources. Health Action Together will use this roadmap to focus its efforts, working with those local action groups and networks already engaged in those priority areas.
What resources will be available to serve communities that do not currently have a Health Action chapter?
Health Action Together will support the growth, spread, and scale of grassroots local action. The Agenda for Action is the roadmap for the work of HA Together. HA Together will focus on one issue at a time and form collaborations around each identified issue among local groups, community-based organizations, government, and institutions where collective action is needed to change the system.
HA Together will cultivate and support a network of cross-sector local action groups implementing strategies and aspirations related to Agenda for Action priorities. In some cases, local action teams could be existing Health Action Chapters, or community-based organizations, initiatives, and community groups that are already working in the focus area. Sometimes new local action groups may need to form to address gaps.
All of this will depend on Agenda for Action recommendations as these decisions will be made at the grassroots level about who wants to participate, how they want to participate, and what the focus needs to be.
Join our mailing list to learn more about this and to receive other updates and announcements about Health Action Together by emailing HA2.0SonomaCounty@gmail.com.
There is an excellent opportunity for all who are involved in Health Action Together to identify those amazing community leaders who may not be part of the usual leadership tables. Some voices that may be very present in their own communities are not necessarily being heard inside our institutions. Health Action Together is seeking to learn more about who these leaders are and the work they are doing to bring them to the Health Action Together table. To the extent that any of us have deeper knowledge of those communities suffering the great impacts from inequities, we need deeper engagement with these community leaders and members and we need to learn more from them.
This intent is driving the Health Action Together approach to developing the new Agenda for Action and stewarding its implementation. We recognize that we must all undertake this journey together and learn together to ensure that our shared understanding of Sonoma County’s well-being includes non-white perspectives. Join Health Action Together’s efforts to pursue an inclusive Agenda for Action and work toward defining and building a more equitable community for everyone.
Agenda for Action
What is the process for identifying the participants for focus groups and community conversations to ensure reaching deeply into underrepresented communities for their input on the Agenda for Action?
Health Action Together is working with local community engagement consulting partners who have established, trusted relationships within communities of focus that need to be part of these conversations. We are co-designing an equity-driven planning process based around Anti-Racist practices to ensure clarity, alignment, and accountability. We are working with community-based leaders to co-create and implement culturally responsive community engagement that captures accurate representation and reflection of community voices.
We also welcome ideas, feedback, and connections with the communities that Health Action Together seeks to engage.
County of Sonoma’s Role
What is the County of Sonoma's involvement with Health Action Together? Is this only for the interim period or will there be sustained County involvement going forward to support action?
All of those involved in implementing the transition to Health Action Together—Interim Board members, staff, and consultants—recognize that the County of Sonoma’s continued partnership and financial investment in HA Together is essential. Built into the Board of Supervisors’ action to sunset the original Health Action 1.0 structure are commitments for County leadership support for launching and sustaining HA Together.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also committed to leading the way on systems-level accountability to the Agenda for Action and outcomes through:
- Championing this work and encouraging others to join the effort
- Continuing to pursue racial equity across County policies and services such as enacting strategies in the Racial Equity and Social Justice Pillar of the County of Sonoma Strategic Plan.
- Demonstrating County commitment and partnership through financial support, leadership, staffing, and other in-kind support.
Several County departments have committed staff time to the transition of Health Action 1.0, development of the Agenda for Action, and the implementation of change efforts. The Department of Health Services, Human Services Department, and Office of Equity are all providing dedicated in-kind staff time. Department leaders will also be called on to share their power and influence with community members in developing priorities and advancing solutions associated with the Agenda for Action.
Funding and sustainability
Health Action Together has secured initial start-up funding through Peter E. Haas Jr. Family Fund, Community Foundation Sonoma County, and the County of Sonoma, as well as funding from other partners including Sonoma County Office of Education, Providence Sonoma County, and Sutter Health.
Health Action Together leadership will be working on developing an investment and sustainability plan for Health Action Together. More information about this is coming soon.
If you are interested in helping to fund or supporting fund development for Health Action Together and the Agenda for Action, contact Health Action Together leadership by emailing HA2.0SonomaCounty@gmail.com.