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Center for Collaborative Planning

Engaging communities for action since 1994



Women's Health Leadership
A program of the Center for Collaborative Planning, Public Health Institute.

Women's Health Leadership (WHL) promotes health and social justice by supporting grassroots women leaders. Since 1994, WHL has offered training, technical assistance, peer learning and mentoring opportunities through a leadership school, alumni network, and special projects. The year-long leadership school provides a supportive, cross-cultural environment for grassroots women to learn, reflect and re-energize.

COMMUNITY IMPACT: WHL's mission is to improve the health status of low income women in California by supporting women leaders on the front lines of the work. To date, over 350 alumni throughout California have successfully completed leadership projects that have not only built their own leadership capacity, but also have positively impacted health outcomes, individual projects range from workshops and seminars to health resource development to advocacy work. A peer leader from rural Lassen County created a guide for providers and physicians swerving rural populations. Another's advocacy helped to ban tobacco billboards in urban Los Angeles. WHL projects have addressed comprehensive sex education; personal and political empowerment for the GLBT community; elder abuse; obesity prevention; and safe needle disposal.

WHL replication, in the form of mini-WhL's, has occurred in several communities throughout the state including The Latina Community Women's Health Leadership Program developed by 1996 Alumni, Miriam Wong, Executive Director of The Latina Center in Richmond, CA. WHL also has increased the number of women in key California statewide organizations including Office of Women's Health; Rural Health Association; Mental Health Planning Council; and Department of Alcohol and Drugs. Just as powerful is the activie alumni network that represents strong relationships and resources supporting ongoing work.

PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION: On a personal leadership level, those involved with WhL see their participation as tranformative and enduring. Alumni and faculty alike use words such as "magic" and "permanent bonding" and "dream fulfillment" when describing their participation. They talk about making long lasting, profound connections and feeling empowered by their personal and collective experience in WHL.

A WOMAN'S WAY OF DOING - NOW MORE THAN EVER: The current landscape offers threats and opportunities that illustrate the need for a program with the enduring promise of WHL. As these challenges indicate, now more that ever, women's voices must be raised and thier power mobilized to protect their well-being and thate of their families and communities.

  • Women's health is consistently under siege and in danger of being sacrificed to the interests of the privileged few

  • Recent census data affirms that we are a segregated society in need of integrated solutions

  • Current work on racial equity is alerting a broader audience to the gaps and disparities long known to those working in health, education and social justice

  • International research demonstrates the importance and related success of investing in women to change community paradigms

  • Innovations in social entrepreneurialism offer new models for women in non-profits

  • WHL is currently broadening its work to include girls and young women leaders across California, while keeping its unique approach to diversity and strong support

Please see the following reports for more information about WHL's programs, projects and successes.

  • Women's Health Leadership Past, Present, and Future

    WHL's 15 year assessment report.
    Included: Overview of 15 years, assessment, and appreciate inquiry interviews.
    Click here to download the report.

  • Women’s Choices Report

    Grassroots Women Leaders Enrich Their Communities Through Quality Health Care Projects Report
    Included: descriptions of projects completed by WHL Alumni and policy recommendations developed and championed by Women's Choices participants.
    Click here to download the report.

  • Women's Health Leadership: Celebrating Our Beginnings- Visioning Our Future.

    A report of our first five years.
    Included: Overview of the first five years, profiles of eight alumni, and lessons learned.
    Click here to download the report.