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A Letter | From Our CEO

Contract Signature

"As CHW’s, people are always at the center of their work, therefore CHWs are the center of OUR work. Why? Because systems don’t make things run; the people behind the systems do. The Coalition exist because the risk to the workforce is too big if we don’t." - Ciearra "CJ" Walker –

"Four years ago....

a group of people in love with their city, now known as community health workers (CHWs), took a step towards creating the change they wanted to see. What once started as a “hopeful idea”  has grown to be a membership group, an organized consulting body,  and an independent, social impact organization providing services towards social determinants.Over these years, The St Louis Community Health Worker Coalition (CHWC) has taken great shape, though it hasn’t come without having to be malleable.Our direction has shifted often; our pace has increased and decreased beyond our control; and we find ourselves working in spaces we didn't 'strategize'; we embrace this fluidity. 

"As a social impact organization working to improve the lives of everyday people - that we call neighbors - it is important we stay timely. The Coalition responds to immediate needs. When you live in 'a community', you understand that the needs of the community are different every day. As an organization, we chose to live and step with the neighborhood. Our organization, the CHW Coalition, is the only non-profit organization in the state governed by CHWs, positioned to support the scaling, sustainability, and leadership development of the workforce. At the Coalition, we uniquely position CHWs, who truly understand the culture and reality of the people they serve, as liaisons in our local community. This allows us to also build genuine rapport with leaders and partner organizations within St. Louis systems. This is how we're able to make more effective full circle connections. Innovation sits at the core of our work. We not only model what it means to work from the inside out, but we also support organizations who are attempting to do the same."

"We value evidence, experience, and empirical knowledge as necessary contributions to public health, and our culture of inquiry allows us to lean into a both/and approach. It has been beautiful watching the St Louis region re-define what it means to be a CHWemploy a CHW, and support a CHW. Recognizing the origins of community health work falls outside the system, it has been one of the most gratifying revelations to experience the region lean into power building and equitable  transformation.
In our region, we’ve been intentional to make sure CHWs have the privilege, opportunity, and access to work within, or outside of, any system a neighbor may engage; this includes health, social services, education, justice, civic engagement, behavioral health and more. We see through national efforts, as well as the work of our state, Missouri, that the CHW workforce is just getting started. In the St Louis Metropolitan Area, we have over 150 trained CHW’s eligible for state credentialing. This workforce is on the rise, but it requires the proper support not only to maintain health, but simply to preserve."

"What's the best part about what I do? 

Illuminating what CHWs look like in real life. In my role, I have the opportunity to center and amplify community experience and wisdom, across all domains of health. Daily, I help neighbors turn their passion into a career – from grassroots to professional. I'm privileged to engage a growing network of 150+ CHW neighborhood leaders and more than 40 organizations, to design a multi-faceted, grassroots, and legislative strategy ensuring the CHW workforce enjoys long-term viability at regional, state, and national levels. In short, I’m creating space to solution beyond survival, cultivating strategies that build people not programs."    - Ciearra "CJ" Walker –

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