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October 24, 2023

SCHA’s Angel Bourdon Joins PHEARLESS Initiative to Advance Health Equity

Fifteen teams of rising public health and community leaders from around the country have been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Public Health Regenerative Leadership Synergy (PHEARLESS) initiative, including South Carolina Hospital Association’s Angel Bourdon, Director of Community Health & Innovation.

Supported by an investment of more than $8.5 million from The Kresge Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the de Beaumont Foundation, the PHEARLESS initiative integrates regenerative leadership education and experiential learning with innovative collaborative tools that will help public health and community leaders build the skills they need to co-create sustainable solutions that advance health equity and well-being for all.

As a holistic, strengths-based, and adaptive approach to leadership, regenerative leadership focuses on creating positive change and restoring balance in complex living systems. By creating positive relationships and nurturing the interconnected elements within a system, regenerative leaders aim to generate outcomes that benefit everyone.

“PHEARLESS leaders know how to forge partnerships that result in community-led public health efforts on the ground,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, managing director of Kresge’s Health Program. “Authentic community engagement can improve the public’s health for generations to come.”

Each four-person team includes two rising public health leaders and two rising community leaders. Together, the cohort will form a network that will learn from one another and help create new models for community-led efforts to improve equitable health outcomes community-wide.

“Strong partnerships between government and community are necessary to achieve meaningful change and improve health outcomes. Through the PHEARLESS program, we look forward to facilitating and strengthening such partnerships in communities across the country, and I am excited to welcome our inaugural cohort,” said Brian C. Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation.

Through the 12-month PHEARLESS experience, comprising four learning modules and a culminating capstone activity, participants will develop the mindset and skills to transform systems, structures and policies, in partnership with community, toward a just and equitable future. Each four-person team will receive a $100,000 grant to support their activities.

The cohort includes teams from the following communities:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Colorado City, Arizona
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Hillsborough, Florida
  • Jackson County, Missouri
  • Lee County, Mississippi
  • Long Beach, California
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Saint Johnsbury, Vermont
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington

The University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health (COPH) and Muma College of Business (MCOB) co-lead the design and implementation of the training and technical assistance. COPH also partners with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, the Big Cities Health Coalition and the National Association of County and City Officials as an interdisciplinary support network.

“Today’s complex community health issues require learning and acting together. PHEARLESS leaders will not only develop themselves as leaders but also work respectfully in partnership to inclusively engage the public, build civic muscle and create the conditions in which all can thrive,” said Dr. Marissa Levine, director of the Center for Leadership in Public Health Practice at the USF College of Public Health.