Strategic Scholars Program

About the Strategic Scholars Program

The Strategic Scholars Program, a program developed and implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), uses a community of practice cohort model and multiple learning modalities to build governmental public health workforce capacity in eight strategic skill areas. The program launched its fourth cohort in February 2021; selected Public Health Scholars had the opportunity to build their skills in Change Management, a critical skill for initiating, implementing, and sustaining positive changes to local health department structure and functioning.

About the Strategic Scholars Program Change Management Cohort (2021)

According to the deBeaumont Foundation’s Building Skills for a More Strategic Public Health Workforce: A Call to Action, “Change management means scaling programs up and down or changing them entirely in response to the environment, and identifying core elements to help sustain programs in challenging times. A framework for guiding public health managers in the change management process is crucial to this process (Thompson, 2010).” Additionally, the 2017 Public Health Workforce Interest and Needs Survey (PH WINS) demonstrated change management as one of the top training needs identified by public health workers. Click here to view our past Strategic Scholars participants.

How will it benefit public health departments and the communities that they serve?

Upon completion of the program, participants will be able to:

  • Define change, its types, and elements
  • Create a sense of urgency, build the change leadership team, and draft the change vision
  • Assess organizational and stakeholder readiness
  • Develop a change management plan that includes communication and resistance strategies
  • Identify methods for implementing change
  • Identify gaps and activities to sustain change

Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Apply their new skills in their current settings through the completion of a skill application project and individualized coaching
  • Work with their peers from health departments across the country to explore new ideas and concepts, via monthly sessions and an online community of practice
  • Attend the virtual 2021 Public Health Improvement Training (PHIT) with support from NNPHI
  • Receive a certificate of completion from NACCHO University

What are the components of the program?

To build skills in Change Management, over the course of six months, participants will:

  • Complete the self-paced online learning Change Management for Public Health course, available through e-learning platform, NACCHO University (National Association of City and County Health Officials)
  • Participate in three virtual live learning sessions via video conference
  • Attend PHIT, taking place virtually on June 7-9, 2021 (no travel is required)
  • Attend one skill-based workshop for Strategic Scholars at PHIT
  • Work one on one with a coach on a skill application project via three video conference sessions to address a project or issue related to Change Management in the work setting
  • Present their project to the other teams in the Change Management cohort

Who is Eligible?

The Strategic Scholars program is a competitive application process open to personnel working in state, tribal, territorial, or local health departments. In order to participate, applicants must apply as a team with a minimum of two (2) but up to six (6) participants, with a combination of the following roles:

  • Program Staff (e.g., staff who work closely with your proposed area of change; health education program changes should include a health educator, immunization program changes should include immunization staff, community health improvements should include a health planner)
  • Performance Improvement Staff/Leadership (e.g., Accreditation Coordinator, Quality Improvement Coordinator, Performance Manager, Workforce Development Coordinator, Community Health Improvement Coordinator)
  • Senior/Executive Leadership (e.g., Health Director, Senior Official) and Division Directors.

Strategic Scholars Program At-A-Glance

The proposed timeline for the 2021 Strategic Scholars Program is below.

January 2021January 26, 2021Scholar Application Released
February 2021February 2, 2021
February 16, 2021
February 23, 2021
Informational webinar
Applications due
Applicants notified of acceptance status
March 2021March 3, 2021
March 8, 2021
March 31, 2021
Deadline for Scholars to accept
Virtual Orientation Session
Virtual Live Learning Session #1: Module 1-2
April 2021April 21, 2021Virtual Live Learning Session #2: Modules 3-4
May 2021May 19, 2021Virtual Live Learning Session #3: Modules 5-6
June 2021June 7-9, 2021
TBD with coach/team
Skill based workshop at PHIT.
Team coaching session 1
July 2021TBD with coach/team
July 27, 2021
Team coaching sessions 2 and 3
Skill Application Showcase

Have Questions or Want to Learn More?

Find our helpful Q&A here.

An informational webinar was held on February 2nd, 2021. Background and overview of the project was discussed, as well as more in-depth details about the Change Management online course and the coaching process. The slideshow presented in the webinar can be found here.

Please email Laila Fox, Senior Program Manager, Workforce Training and Education Initiatives, with any other questions regarding the Strategic Scholars Program.


Funding for this project has been provided to the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) through a Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC OT18-1802). NNPHI is collaborating with the CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support on this project. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

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