Welcome. I appreciate you stopping by to read about little ole' me. I'm sure you're wondering how all of my skillsets came together, and how I utilize them ALL. Well I'm a great storyteller, and will guide you through the journey of Alisa N. Howard, The Accidental Public Health Advocate.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, I have loved reading and writing since elementary school, and won several Young Writers Awards. My mother used to gift me diary’s and I wrote stories in them. As I grew up diary’s turned into journaling (which I did not know I was doing), and stories turned into poetry sometimes. I dreamed of becoming a published Author one day, and in 2012 I did just that! I turned years of my written poems into my first published book titled, Whispers of Words Spoken written and published under my pseudo name An Howard. My book was sold in Barnes and Noble stores in Las Vegas until 2016 and on Amazon thanks to Best Selling Author, Ni'Cola Mitchell and her NCM Publishing company. My love of the written word led me to start editing for friends, family and fellow college students. From there I decided to start my very first business, An Howard Publishing (renamed, AHP Writing & Editing Co. in 2019) where I have edited the books of a couple dozen first-time Authors and works of business owners, and University Professors such as: Theodore Ransaw, Ph.D and Civil Rights Leader and Dean Emeritus of Michigan State University, Dr. Robert L. Green.
In 2013 I teamed up with B.O.S.S (Be Your Own Success Story) Magazine out of Atlanta, GA for several years as a Contributing Editor and Writer. The magazine promoted education for minority youth, which is a huge passion of mine. The magazine became nationally published and landed on the shelves of over 100 Barnes & Nobles Stores.
I spent two of my early college years mentoring and tutoring elementary school-aged children through Americorps, working at local Title I schools and urban Boys & Girls Clubs. After Americorp I became a substitute teacher for Clark County School District for three years, and I tutored and mentored minority “at-risk” girls through Lion’s Den, a project created by Professors, Dr. Theodore Ransaw of University of Nevada Reno, and Emeritus of Michigan State University, Dr. Robert L. Green.
My passion for kids didn’t just stop in the schools; for 5 years I volunteered as an Instructor/Leader of a preteen girls’ mentorship program, D.I.G.S. that assisted the girls with navigating life through discussion at Victory Missionary Baptist Church. I was able to bring my skillset of writing into this program as well by teaching the girls how to journal and process their thoughts and feelings.
My Accidental Public Health Start:
Writing tends to be a part of everything I do, and it actually landed me into Public Health. I went to an interview for an Administrative Assistant position at the State of Nevada’s Office of Public Health Informatics and Epidemiology in 2011, and came out as their new Tuberculosis Policy and Procedure Writer. Life is very ironic, who knew that my previous legal experience working in areas of: family, civil, criminal, intellectual property, and personal injury law, along with writing and editing on the side would be useful in Public Health? Welp those skills allowed me to interpret and research laws, NRS codes, and health policies. Shortly after learning that role, I was given an additional role as a Health Analyst, which involved contact tracing, working closely with Department of Corrections nationwide, Centers for Disease Control, and local and non-local health districts. These roles allowed me to have a clearer understanding of social determinants of health, health disparities, and how they affect communities of color, vulnerable and marginalized populations. This role started my advocacy journey to help these communities.
I then worked at the Southern Nevada Health District in the HIV/STD Surveillance Department (no longer called this) as a Data Disease Collection Specialist working with Disease Investigators, Epidemiologists, and uploading data to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and spent half of my time when needed working in the Sexual Health Testing Clinic.
Speaking/Teaching/Policy & Advocacy:
My years in Toastmasters, years of working in law, providing customer service at every job I’ve obtained taught me how to utilize my voice to advocate for others, as well as to teach others to advocate for themselves. Working at the state and at the local health department led me into the role as a Director of an HIV Prevention & Early Intervention program (Ryan White Part B) at the community level at the Las Vegas Urban League. I built and ran the first ever HIV department at this nonprofit, worked with Black Democratic Legislators on assisting with the passage of AB243 (assembly bill), which allows community-based organizations to be granted permits to start and run HIV clinics, giving testing access to those that may not normally have a clinic in their neighborhood.
In this role I started co-hosting the National Black HIV/AIDS Day event here in Las Vegas, which I have now done for 9 years. In 2015-2016, in partnership with the Southern Nevada Health District's HIV department, I implemented and hired an HIV rapid testing team, HARTT a.k.a Community Health Workers, to bring education, prevention and testing to minority communities. In 6 months we tested over 300 individuals from these communities, in which was unprecedented at the time in southern Nevada. We worked with Black and Latin communities, and tested at barbershops, in neighborhood parks, community centers, etc. My team and I also hosted HIV focused roundtable conversations bringing community stakeholders and gatekeepers together to discuss strategies on prevention and early intervention of HIV.
This role also allowed me to bring my history of working with Minority preteens and teens by providing Sexual Health trainings throughout the city.
In 2017, when that HIV program's funding suddenly ended due to Federal budget cuts I decided to take the Community Health Worker (CHW) course through the training at College of Southern Nevada although I had already been doing the work at this point I wanted more knowledge about the field directly. After taking the training, I was referred by my Instructor to the Program Director that they should hire me as an Instructor. I began this position in early 2018 until 2021, I not only trained over 150 CHWs in that time, but I also advocated for the field by inviting state Legislators to my classes to show them the importance of the CHW field and to certify the role here in Nevada.
Six years later I am still a CHW Instructor, through the Nevada CHW Association, I'm also a Certified CHW who advocated for AB191 in 2021, which is the bill that passed and made the CHW field legitimized in Nevada bringing more grant funding to the field and Medicaid reimbursement. This has allowed me to branch off into not only being an Instructor, but a Workforce Developer and Consultant for organizations, FQHC's, Health Clinics, Hospitals and Associations. I have sat on the National Association for Community Health Workers Policy Committee since 2020 working on Federal policies for CHWs, as well as I became a Governing Board member of the Nevada Certification Board since 2021.
In 2020 I envisioned CHWs working in faith-based settings as part of the pandemic solution. I advocated to Legislators and heads of churches in the Black community. In 2022 funding from University of Nevada Reno and NV Office of Minority Health were able to bring my vision to fruition. Partnering with the NV Faith and Health Coalition, we ve created the first faith-based CHW pilot program in the state.
Philanthropy and Giving Access Back:
As you can see my decade of experience in Public Health may have started off accidentally, but was very purposeful. Today, I still own AHP Writing& Editing, but also Minority Health Consultants, a boutique Public Health firm. My desire to give back has led me into philanthropy. I have started two scholarships, one at University of Nevada Las Vegas to financially assist Minority/BIPOC students to enter into a Bachelors of Public Health degree, the other scholarship is with NACHW (National Association of Community Health Workers) to financially assist individuals from Minority/BIPOC communities to enter the field of community health work by taking their first training. I believe when you reach back and give others access to a field or career it can change the trajectory of their lives the way mine was changed #eachoneteachone
Over the years, I also give back by volunteering with nonprofits and organizations that assist Black youth such as Girls Who Brunch, a national nonprofit, and others locally.
Using My Voice:
My advocacy voice can be heard through the radio show I hosted in 2021 for Sumnu Marketing and Braintrust on KCEP FM 88 sponsored by the Southern Nevada Health District called, Public Health: Just the Facts. You can find the replays on Youtube. As of March 2023, you can now hear me as co-host of the radio show, A Healthier Tomorrow on KCEP FM 88 alongside Will Rucker on 2nd Wednesdays of each month at 9am. This show is also sponsored by the Southern Nevada Health District.
Individuals are not the only people I advocate for, as co-chair of the Urban Chamber of Nevada's Healthcare Roundtable, we advocate for small minority-owned businesses to have access to larger organizations for procurement opportunities through monthly dialogue with cohosts. You can find current and past shows on UCC's Facebook.
Accidental for a Purpose
Looking back on my career path and journey, life has shown me through the lens of my Higher Power, God, that everything you’ve done, every single skillset/talent and gift you have will be used, and nothing will be wasted.
I hope you've enjoyed traveling with me on my journey of becoming The Accidental Public Health Advocate. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Governing/Advisory Boards & Committees
The Nevada Certification Board (NCB) provides the state of Nevada with a community and behavioral health workforce that is well trained, educated, and skilled in providing appropriate services.
As an affiliate member board of the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), NCB ensures the public’s safety, enhances public funds accountability, and provides practitioner benefits, by applying rigorous standards for the professional certification and renewal of community and behavioral health workers.
With our partners, we work to improve health and create a better health care system so that people and communities will flourish.
Executive Board Member of Community Partners for Better Health
Community Partners for Better Health (CPBH) was established in 2004 as a diverse, broad-based collaborative 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are truly a community partnership, with a membership that includes Healthcare Professionals and Providers, Pastors and other members of the Faith Community, and everyday citizens seeking to make an impact.
The mission of the NMHEC is to promote the health and well-being of diverse communities by pursuing research, capacity building, and advocacy that recognizes the unique cultural and linguistic differences of Nevadans.
The Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) Subcommittee was created to support the NOMHE Advisory Committee on matters related to the general wellness of Black and African American Nevadans.
The Policy Committee’s mission is to engage and organize members who will work to analyze, respond to, and help shape public policy at the national, state and local level related to the Community Health Worker profession.
Create an innovative, entrepreneurial space that promotes economic development for local and global businesses.
The LEAP Alliance is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization. Collaborating members are
podiatry thought leaders, other leading medical clinicians, population health professionals,
persons who themselves are at risk of amputations, community service organizations, and
concerned members of the general public.