Annual Report 2019

Executive Letter

Embracing a culture of learning is an essential practice for change makers and for our team.

We believe our impact depends upon our willingness to check our internal assumptions, biases, and patterns, and to stay curious and open to new perspectives. In 2019, we leaned into our growing edge, building on strategic changes we made in 2018.

Early in 2019, we completed a Compassionate Integrity Training with faculty from Life University’s Center for Compassion, Integrity, and Secular Ethics. The course is based in neuroscience, psychology, trauma-informed care, and peace and conflict studies. Through this training, we practiced techniques to increase compassion for ourselves and others. We also explored how to create compassionate and equitable systems.

Throughout the year, we continued to implement recommendations from the 2018 internal equity assessment that we conducted in partnership with We-Collab. We analyzed internal practices and informal norms that reflect white dominant culture, and our team discussed how to change them, both individually and as an organization, so that we are more inclusive. To help with those efforts, we practiced conversational tools and implemented approaches that help us avoid group think and maintain psychological safety.

We also recognized the need to be an innovative organization to adapt to the changing needs of communities and our field. Our team embarked on a series of internal workshops to explore the relationship between innovation and creativity, what creativity really is, why innovation matters to our work, how to tap into our individual and innate creativity, and how to develop an organizational culture of innovation. This internal work is a journey toward deepening our impact in collaboration with our funding partners and community leaders.

Throughout this report, you’ll see examples of how we have advanced equity, accelerated action, and enhanced collaboration while supporting diverse projects—all of which reflect the trusted relationships we’ve built over time. We thank all of our partners for linking arms with us. As I write this letter during unprecedented and compounding crises that command a reckoning with this nation’s historic and ongoing racism, we are more grateful than ever to be in community with you as we collaborate with compassion, creativity, and a deep dedication to achieve equitable, healthy communities for all.

Risa Wilkerson
Executive Director

Places We Served in 2019

2019 Annual Report_Where Weve Worked_updated-01-02

Project Highlights: Advancing Equity


Building Collaboration across the Dan River Region


Danville Regional Foundation


Cultivating Healthy Communities


Aetna Foundation

Project Highlights: Accelerating Action


Alamance Wellness Collaborative


Impact Alamance


Healthy Neighborhoods Fund


New York State Health Foundation


Walkability Action Institute


Centers for Disease Control and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

Project Highlights: Enhancing Collaboration


Community Transformation


County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute


SNAP-Ed Community PSE Exploration Initiative


Michigan Fitness Foundation


South Bronx Healthy and Livable Neighborhoods


New York Community Trust


Upstream Action Acceleration


New Jersey Health Initiatives

Thank You!

Healthy Places by Design team retreat 2019_resized
We couldn't do it without you.

Thank you to our clients and partners for helping us advance community-led action and proven, place-based strategies that ensure health and wellbeing for all. Your partnership with our team will have lasting impacts in communities across the country.

Thanks also to our Advisory Board members, who provide valuable insights and ask our team important questions. We are a more effective organization because of your insights.

And, most importantly, thank you to all the local leaders who work every day to make your communities healthier places to live.