Remarks: National League of Cities City Summit

December 12, 2019


Remarks: National League of Cities City Summit

CityHealth President Dr. Shelley Hearne recently spoke at the 2019 National League of Cities City Summit. Read her remarks below.

Partnering with the National League of Cities is so important to our work at CityHealth, because you have such an incredibly unique voice, advocating for those who live in and serve America’s cities.

To the city leaders in our audience, on behalf of CityHealth, I want to thank you for all you do every day to keep the engines of America’s economy, creativity, and innovation humming.

After all, you are America’s front line of problem solvers.

As local officials, we know your mission is to solve the big ones. If the issues that came to you were easy to address, they wouldn’t have made it to your desk.

We know that you do this work because you love the communities you live in, and you want to make them even better. You believe in public service. You are passionate about keeping your city safe and its economy vibrant.

We also know that your constituents come to you with tough questions and real challenges. How do I afford to live in this city, when the rents seem to keep rising? What if I get sick, or my child falls ill, and miss a paycheck? How will I afford to pay the bills? I want to live in a neighborhood that’s safe for my family and has great schools. I want a commute to work that takes less time – or even better – I want a commute that I actually enjoy.

We know that good answers can be difficult to come by, and you may not always have the staff and resources to extensively research which policy solutions are proven to work. Yet, you want to spark the change that answers the families who live in your neighborhood, shop in your supermarket, and walk with you on your city’s streets. They are all the inspiration you need to deliver.

CityHealth is all about providing city policymakers like you with the right tools to make an impact for your constituents, by providing you with a menu of proven policies that have been shown to solve some of America’s biggest local problems.

At CityHealth, we believe every person, in every city, deserves to live the healthiest possible life, and that policy is one of our most powerful tools to improve people’s lives and make cities thrive. We are an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, and we advance a package of evidence-based policy solutions to help millions of people live longer, better lives in vibrant, prosperous communities.

I want to show you a video that tells you a little bit more about the work we do, and how we strive to support your mission of advancing residents’ quality of life in America’s cities.

Now, I want to take a moment to recognize an extraordinary recent accomplishment by the leaders of San Antonio.

When CityHealth first conducted our assessment of health policymaking in cities in 2017, the city received no medal. I received a call from the force of nature who was then head of the city health department, Dr. Colleen Bridger, who told me that not only would she make sure that her city never received such a low rating again, but that the city would go for gold within three years. She stayed true to her word, and last week, the city just received its first overall CityHealth gold medal!

From left: Assistant San Antonio City Manager, Colleen Bridger, Council Member Ana Sandoval, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Council Member, Rebecca J. Viagran, City Manager Erik Walsh, and CityHealth President, Shelley Hearne.

From left: Assistant San Antonio City Manager, Colleen Bridger, Council Member Ana Sandoval, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Council Member, Rebecca J. Viagran, City Manager Erik Walsh, and CityHealth President, Shelley Hearne.

This effort required no less than a full court press from the leadership of San Antonio, from ensuring that the city was the first in Texas to pass Tobacco 21, to advancing one of the leading high-quality Pre-Kindergarten programs in the nation. We want to recognize the incredible public service of the San Antonio City Council, including members, Rebecca Viagran, Ana Sandoval, and Roberto Trevino.

We also want to recognize Jennifer Cofer of MD Andersen, Sarah Baray of Pre-K4SA, and of course, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and City Manager Erik Walsh. Please stand, so we can give you a round of applause.

We applaud your work and your commitment to creating a healthier, thriving community for your residents. Because of the choices you’ve made, you have helped secure the health, wellness, and economy of your city – not just today, but for generations to come.