Friday, March 22; Silver City, NM: The National Center for Frontier Communities (NCFC) is proud to announce the appoint of program manager Joseph Hill as Co-President of New Mexico Public Health Association (NMPHA), a group that promotes public health practice, policies, and systems that supports health equity in New Mexico.
According to Hill, “The NMPHA is an association that continues public health conversation outside of agencies; we also provide training opportunities and over 1,000 people come to our twice-yearly conferences to unite the state’s perspectives on public health to build a culture of unity and collaboration across the state.”
Previously, Hill served as the Southwest Regional Representative to the NMPHA. The current priority areas for the Association are social determinates of health, environmental health and justice, and universal health care access. The NMPHA is state affiliate of the American Public Health Association (APHA), which represents more than 30,000 members nationally and worldwide.
Hill resides in the southwest corner of New Mexico where he coordinates the Pyramid Coalition of Hidalgo County, and he hopes to highlight “the frontier perspective” during his term with the Association. The Pyramid Coalition of Hidalgo County is a substance abuse prevention coalition of regional service providers, faith communities, local business owners, educators, law enforcement and various other community members which is funded by Drug-Free Community Support Program, from the Executive Office of the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
“One thing is the difference in culture and reality with frontier and urban areas. There are different world views when you are more geographically isolated. I enjoy being able to translate those two sides. Simple things like going to the hospital is a day trip where I live in Hidalgo County. My community just opened a pharmacy last year, before that we had to travel 100 miles round trip to reach the closest pharmacy.”
Hill wants to ensure “the voice the rural and frontier communities aren’t lost, and their perspectives’ are heard and considered. Also, make clear how and why the frontier is relevant to the policy makers.”
New Mexico ranks fourth in the nation for frontier lands, with 108,395 square miles designated frontier – an area larger than the state of Colorado. These lands comprise some of New Mexico’s most significant treasures including farm and ranching land, natural resources, national parks and military installations. These frontier areas are crucial to the New Mexico economy, culture and security of the nation, according the NCFC publication “Frontier Counties in the United States”.
NMPHA departing Co-President Brenda Alvarado said, “We are very excited to have Hill serving as co-president of the New Mexico Public Health Association.” Hill will serve as co-president with Melissa Ontiveros. The Association has three-year terms with rotating co-presidents, so the newly elected co-presidents serves a year’s time with the previous president acting as a mentor. This structure offers the NMPHA stability and time to impart vital information to incoming leadership.
The highlight of Hill’s recent appointment is he met with the New Mexico Secretary of Department of Health, Kathyleen “Kathy” Kunkel. “We spoke with her for a couple hours about the public health needs of state, including policy and general challenges. I was excited to be a part of the conversation and speak for small frontier communities,” said Hill.
NCFC Board Chair, Caroline Ford said, “Our staff’s presence on these national and state committees brings the voice of frontier residents to the forefront in major policy decisions that impacts their lives.”