Advocacy for Leaders: Crafting Better Messages

Public Health Leadership 4: Advocacy for Leaders — Crafting Better Messages


At no time in the recent history of public health has there been a greater need for effective advocacy. In this series of columns, the conceptual foundation of moral foundations theory and its application to communicating public health messages across the political landscape is described as a theoretical basis for more effective public health advocacy. Then, specific case examples are shared leading to the insight that, when public health leaders develop better advocacy skills, a “public health advantage” may emerge, leading to better laws and policies. Further, the role of millennials as the “new public health messengers” is offered by 2 emerging leaders whose cogent insights point the way ahead.

Leader Interview: Gene Matthews

As a coauthor of this series of articles and as a current national leader in a “public health law renaissance” which he helped to initiate as CDC General Council, Gene Matthews stands as one of our nation’s most insightful public health thought leaders. These articles along with this companion interview from 2018 provide the public health community with rich insights and wisdom needed to address the polarization which exists across a range of public health issues. In this interview, Mr. Matthews discusses a range of topics including:

  • Moral Foundations Theory and its relevance to public health practice today
  • The application of this theory to advocate successfully for legislation related to needle exchange in North Carolina in 2014 and 2016.
  • Tactics needed to identify “unexpected validators” who may see the world differently from a traditional public health mindset and subsequently become allies
  • “Looking Deeper and Going Local” as a core strategy in forming partnerships
  • His hopes for the future: civil conversations and civil discourse

We invite you to listen to this very wise public health leader as he shares timeless wisdom on topics of central importance to the public health enterprise. Your thinking will be reshaped by Mr. Matthews’ compelling message designed to help leaders expand their mindset and broaden their perspectives on what is possible in advocating for better public health law and policy.