Highlights from the 2018 HEAL Summit

2018 HEAL Summit Highlights


The 2018 HEAL Summit was a great success. With over 170 participants, this was the largest Summit yet. Both days started with impactful messages from our keynote speakers: Qiana Mickie, Executive Director of Just Food and Paul Schmitz, CEO of Leading Inside Out. Both speakers shared important, useful thoughts on leadership and inclusiveness. Qiana discussed the importance of lifting up all voices. She challenged us to use the positions we hold to empower those whose voice is not at the table and push back against those who have positions of power and “take up all the air.” She also shared why words and terms matter and the importance of changing the dialect in order to value all people. For example, rather than saying “low-income” or “poor,” both of which have negative connotations, use the term “under resourced,” as that term more accurately illustrates that these sectors of the community have historically been provided with insufficient resources or kept from resources. She noted that leadership is not tied to higher education degrees or social status, but instead to our lived experiences that present opportunities for all to lead if given the opportunity.

Similarly, Paul noted in his interactive presentation that “leadership is an action, not a position” and he likened leadership to a muscle – the more it’s used, the stronger it becomes. He then demonstrated that social change requires a network of leaders working together. He illustrated this through his example of the civil rights movement. While we tend to think a few, known people were the “leaders” of the civil rights movement, Paul showed how it took a variety of leaders, many of whom were, and are, unknown “rank and file” supporters to bolster the more formal leadership names like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. With all the civil rights supporters exercising their leadership muscles together, great results were realized. Importantly, both Qiana and Paul stressed that we need to look for leadership where no one else is looking. That there are many assets in communities being overlooked and a need to start with the assets, rather than the perceived deficits when working to bring social change.

Not to be outdone by the keynotes, the general session and breakout presentations were equally informative and many provided excellent examples of community leadership currently underway to bring improved access to healthy living. Session presenters came from a variety of organizations, including public health, municipalities, non-profits, public education, and the private sector. Attendees learned about food as medicine and the “Power of Perception” through our general session speakers. In the Fast and Furious round, topics ranging from “Things in the Bike Lane” to the importance of healthy soil, to creating a fun and inviting school cafeterias were presented in seven minutes or less. And as always, the variety of breakout sessions were crowd pleasers and covered topics including:

  • Colorado Springs’ journey to overcome drastic budget cuts that decimated most city services, including parks and recreation in the early 2000s, to now be an Elite HEAL City;
  • What’s next for transportation funding, including walk and bike infrastructure, given the defeat of Proposition 110;
  • The big impact and cost savings that come with medically tailored nutrition; and
  • The process the City of Arvada undertook to pass Arvada’s unique Community Agriculture Master Plan.

Another highlight of the Summit was the presentation of the 2018 Governor’s Healthy Community Award to the City of Montrose, a LiveWell Colorado Elite HEAL City. The award, presented by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) in partnership with LiveWell Colorado, acknowledges a community each year for their collaborative efforts toward community wellness that also positively impacts economic vitality. Community input and involvement combined with city leadership has led to momentous success for various projects including the Montrose Recreation Center, Sharing Ministries Food Bank, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority Project and PIC Place, each creating opportunities for all residents despite economic standing. In recognition of their achievement, Montrose also received a $4,000 monetary award, contributed by Rocky Mountain Health Plans, to further enhance community wellness efforts. Congratulations Montrose!

Three outstanding individuals were also honored by receiving LiveWell Colorado’s Community Impact Champion Award. This year’s recipients were:

  • Patience Kabwasa, Director of Programs, Colorado Springs Food Rescue, was nominated by Zac Chapman in recognition of her tireless work to create a more socially just and health equitable Colorado Springs through creating better access to, and knowledge around, healthy foods.
  • Jodie Sutton, Cortez Farmers Market Manager, was nominated by Amy Nelms to honor her tireless work as the Cortez Farmers Market’s co-market manager. Jodie’s commitment was made exceedingly clear last summer when the EBT machine used by the market was no longer operable. Jodie worked hard to transition to a manual voucher system which was labor intensive and difficult. Nonetheless, Jodie continued to advocate for the acceptance of SNAP and assured customers that they were welcome and valued.
  • Zufan Tezazu, co-owner, Syracuse Market, was nominated by Amy Nelms to honor her work at the market to ensure that produce is featured in the front of the store and complimented with healthy, culturally appropriate staples such as bulk beans and injera. The market is also a Double Up Food Bucks site. Zufan’s enthusiasm and method of supporting her community having access to fresh produce has become a model for training and technical assistance for other Denver Metro stores.

LiveWell is looking ahead to the 2019 HEAL Summit and hopes to see many familiar and new faces attend once again. PowerPoint presentations and materials from the 2018 HEAL Summit can be accessed on our web site here.



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