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UGA to hold fourth annual State of Public Health Conference Oct. 6

Athens, Ga. – The fourth annual State of Public Health Conference, hosted by the University of Georgia College of Public Health, will be held Oct. 6 beginning at 9 a.m. in the UGA Hotel and Conference Center.

This event, organized by the college’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, will bring together over 300 of Georgia’s public health professionals, policymakers, academics, community health organizations and business leaders with the goal of developing real strategies for improving Georgia’s public health outcomes.

Four keynote speakers will share their expertise on public health issues of increasing importance to Georgia and the nation.

• Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America’s Health, will explore opportunities and challenges of advancing public health in a reforming health care system;
• José Carlos León Vargas, international cooperation and development director of Solidaridad Internacional Kanda, will share insights about creating inclusive communities that address health disparities;
• Kaye Bender, president and CEO of Public Health Accreditation Board, will discuss the benefits and barriers to public health accreditation;
• Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, will give an update on the state’s current public health initiatives.

Workshop and seminar topics are selected from abstracts submitted by public health faculty and students, as well as policymakers and practitioners from across the state. Subjects to be addressed this year include leveraging the Affordable Care Act to improve community health, tobacco and youth, health literacy, cost assessment in program implementation and evaluation, community partnerships, servant leadership and building a public health workforce for a healthier Georgia.

One featured workshop will walk attendees through tools provided by The Community Guide, a free online resource developed by the U.S. Community Preventive Services Task Force to guide decision-makers, program planners, employers and civic leaders in developing public health initiatives for their own communities.

“Since the last State of Public Health Conference, we’ve witnessed the power of public policy to advance health through tobacco bans on Georgia’s college campuses, the passage of legislation legalizing medical marijuana and increased statewide efforts to reduce childhood obesity,” said Marsha Davis, associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Public Health.

Yet Georgia still struggles with high uninsured rates, rural hospital closings, increasing traffic fatalities, more children living in poverty and continued low federal and public health spending per capita, Davis explained.

“At this year’s conference, we hope to continue fostering the dialogue needed to overcome these challenges, embrace opportunities and advance the public’s health in Georgia,” she said.

The State of Public Health Conference is funded in part by a grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Created in 1999 as an independent, private foundation, the foundation’s mission is to advance the health of all Georgians and to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities.

Register online at

Visit the SOPH Facebook event page for updates and information at

UGA College of Public Health
Founded in 2005 as a response to the state’s need to address important health concerns in Georgia, the UGA College of Public Health offers degree programs in biostatistics, disaster management, environmental health, epidemiology, gerontology, global health, health promotion and behavior, public health, health policy and management and toxicology. For more information, see