Monthly Archives: October 2010

It’s about the facts… Black and White really tells the story!

By Gustavo Torrez

Reporting from 2010 National Coalition for LGBT Health Meeting

OK OK I know what you are thinking, Really !?! what are you talking about Gustavo…

Well, I attended a panel discussion today titled Prevention and Public Health with the following individuals:

» Jeff Levi, Executive Director, Trust for America’s Health

» Nevena Minor, Legislative Affairs Manager, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

» Dr. Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health

The session focused on the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As we know prevention and public health initiatives are moving into center stage in the efforts to overhaul the US healthcare system and to improve the health and well being of communities throughout the country. So this session focused on some of the major prevention and public health provisions of the ACA, and a major gain was how the act established a $15 billion prevention and public health fund. More importantly this act provides the ability to collect better data, this is a direct benefit of the law and will definitely include disparity groups with the hopes of inclusion of LGBT communities. Although it’s not clear in the law, there is work in being done ensure inclusion. If you followed this bill you know that the House bill that was passed was inclusive of LGBTs, but the Senate bill, which ended up being the final approved bill was not inclusive of LGBT communities. Negative right, well maybe not, although LGBT communities were excluded, there is the support for inclusion across the board. Although it was not explicitly stated in the bill there are a lot of insiders searching to be inclusive of all communities.

This is, yet again a classic example of why we need to mobilize our communities for action on the federal level.  SIDE NOTE: As you know the Network has and will continue to reach out to our community for input on federal initiatives to ensure LGBT inclusivity. BUT we can’t do it alone, we need your support on action items promoted by the network. There are two opportunities which can be found on the website right now.

Sorry I digress… back to the topic!

I am sure by now you are thinking, where does the Black and White situation come into play… Well one of the panel members, in response to a question addressed, stated that it is all about the black and white. DATA that is, until there is equality across the board with inclusive LGBT data, we will still be fighting for overall inclusion of our communities. We all know there is not enough data to support our work, we have to continue barking at the doors for inclusion. Together we will succeed, and there is hope for the future.

In closing, I wanted to thank all of the LGBT focused researchers who have spend so much time addressing the needs of our community. Your data is what is helping to prove the case on the federal level. This was echoed in the presentation and, I know I just wanted to take an opportunity to say thank you to all, and please please keep us informed of your new projects. We want to showcase the work that is being done in our communities, and showcasing your data, and to support the work we are all doing.

Until next time,


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Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Uncategorized


Good Morning from National Coalition for LGBT Health Meeting

by Gustavo Torrez

Reporting from 2010 National Coalition for LGBT Health Meeting

Currently Scout and I are in Washington DC for The 2010 National Coalition for LGBT Health Annual Meeting. The Coalition’s annual meeting provides opportunity for participants to network with LGBT health advocates from across the country, attend workshops and trainings applicable to state and federal advocacy work, and learn about the Coalition’s policy initiatives. Here is a brief overview of the agenda for day 1, minus the actual breakouts for the day.
This morning Cornelius Baker, National Policy Advisor, National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition;
member, President’s Advisory Council on HIV & AIDS will be delivering the opening keynote address.
Leading into the afternoon, the Luncheon Plenary: LGBT Health on the Political Landscape speaker lineup looks amazing. We will hear from the following:
» Rebecca Fox, Consultant, Federal Agencies Project
» Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
» Jeff Krehely, Director of LGBT Communications and Research, Center for American Progress
» Sharon Lettman, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition
The closing plenary will be provided by David Hansell,
Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services.

Stay tuned, for more detailed blog posts from throughout the day from myself and Juan Carlos Vega, the ActivistLibrarianPR from Puerto Rico…


Institute 2010: The Business Case and Sustainability Workshop

Guest Blogger, Lisa Houston Break Free Alliance


The Business Case and Sustainability

Linking the Business Case for Chronic Disease Program and Policy Sustainability kicked off with an overview of sustainability. Definitions of sustainability differ between organizations and programs, but     generally instructors Denise Cyzman (National Association of Chronic Disease Directors) and Jay Desai (Minnesota Department of Health) emphasized that you don’t want to see all of your hard work and the resulting community health benefits dependent upon political whimsy. In putting together a sustainability plan, here are some of the key questions they posed:

1. Who would be important organizations and/or people to consider when planning for your program or policy?

2. What would be their initial motivation for involvement in the program or policy? What about their sustainable (i.e. long-term) motivation?

3. What could they contribute? What specific role would they have?

4. How could you get them interested in your specific program or policy?

5. Who are your two or three key strategic partners and why?

One of the factors important to establishing sustainability is making the business case for any given program or policy. Your program/policy likely saves money somewhere, and may even generate money. And of course, money isn’t the only component – there are things beyond value that your audience for the business case may value, such as being seen as progressive on matters of health. The trick is in framing your case. In a nutshell, you need to identify your target audience, explain the need, determine and demonstrate the value, evaluate progress and re-assess your business case.  Of course, you may have several different audiences, so here are some examples from different perspectives:

  • • Internal business perspective: Translate customer needs into products or services; meet organizational mission and goals; demonstrate commitment to prevention, self-management and    quality care
  • • Regulatory perspective: Meet local, state or federal regulatory requirements; conditions for reimbursement from 3rd party payers
  • • Community perspective: Shape organizational image in community; create image of quality provider; meet accreditation standards; enhance community welfare as a whole
  • • Innovation and learning perspective: Improvements in processes of care and health outcomes; improve strategic positioning; effects on employee satisfaction, absenteeism, presenteeism
  • • Customer perspective: Identify the customer and understand their perspective; determine program benefits that match their perspective.

Then comes the evaluation – figuring out if your policy or program continues to meet community need and if it’s sustainable in the long run.

Take-away: A sustainability plan with a business case probably cannot be whipped up overnight, but the two definitely provide at least one path to sustainability at a time when that word has saturated calls for proposals.




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Posted by on October 6, 2010 in Uncategorized


Institute Keynote – Author of "Switch: How to Change Things"

Gustavo Torrez

I am currently at The Institute 2010 – Shifting to a Higher Gear tobacco skills conference hosted by CDC and TTAC.

The opening Keynote Speaker was Dan Heath, Author of the Book Switch – How to change things when change is hard.

Dan’s charismatic nature sweep the room, and all of a sudden 8:30am did not feel so early!

He begins talking about how Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems – the rational mind and the emotional mind, both compete for control.

The Rational conscious deliberative mind wants a great beach body the Emotional unconscious automatic mind wants that the ice cream… Sound familiar? I see it as the good gender-neutral individual in white on one shoulder and the bad gender neutral individual in red on the other shoulder. How may times do we have these types of discussions with ourselves?

What happens if they agree… CHANGE can be made with very little resistance!

It is not always that easy, and sometimes you need to address how to really create change.

Dan shows us the picture below, a man on an elephant. The man thinks he is in control but in reality who is in control? Of course the elephant!

Dan’s 3-part framework for behavior change he addresses in the follow ways

Direct the rider (man on the elephant), direction for the rider

Motivate the Elephant, we have to have the desire to change

Shape the path, make it simply easier to make the change, clear your path

When we talks about “Directing the rider”, he says the rider focuses on problems. The elephant is doing what it wants…

So what can you do to create change?

Find bright spots, identify what’s working today and do more of it…

People remember the negative longer than they remember the positive, he referenced a study which showed that individuals pay more attention to the negative things, an not enough of the positive.

This is so true though right? When we watch the evening news the top story is something negative, throughout the evening they focus on the negative things happening in our communities more that the positives.

Dan believes “we need to identify the bright spots” When you look at your kids report card don’t highlight the F in math, but highlight the A in English and the B in History, then identify ways it take to assist them in bringing the F grade up.

How often do we look for the bright spots, and build on them? Got you thinking… I know it has me thinking….

Part two if his framework is to “Motivate the Elephant”

The elephant speaks feeling, speak to the feeling to insight action. Knowledge is not enough, have to speak to the emotions. Change comes from emotion and if you motivate the elephant, you will create change.

Shrink the change, our elephants are easily spooked, he addressed phrasing the issue without making it look more daunting than it actually is! Take it one step at the time, and you will see it is easier than you think.

Ambiguity is the enemy of change.

Our role is to get people moving in the right direction, and if we shrink the change and take it one step at a time we will take the path of less resistance. Which transitions into part three of his framework.

“Shaping the path”

We have to make it easier, give people the map, be more direct he says…

Don’t just tell someone that there is a food drive on Friday at the town center, give them a map to the town center, tell them what you need, and the times to come by.

What can you do to make it easier for people, I believe we are a society of convenience… bottled water, sliced bread, it’s all convenient! So if we shape the path we will create the road of less resistance!

All in all, think about Dan’s 3-part framework, and spend a little extra time focusing on the bright spots, from talking with your child about grades, to embarking on your next social cause see how these strategies can assist you!

And if his great presentation wasn’t enough to get me reading the book, right after it Bronson Frick from Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights stood up and said it’s one of the best books he’s ever read on behavior change. OK, this book now becomes a must read!

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Posted by on October 5, 2010 in Uncategorized