Inside NHPHA: A Monthly Column Written by NHPHA Leadership: Farewell to NHPHA Executive Director Joan Ascheim

by Lisa Bujno, NHPHA President

This month we bid a reluctant farewell to our Executive Director, Joan Ascheim, as she retires. As many of you know, Joan has been involved with NHPHA for some time – first as a Board member, then as Board President, and now as Executive Director. I first met Joan in 1999 when she was the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section Chief at the NH Division of Public Health Services (DPHS). I was a seasoned nurse practitioner but new to public health practice at the state level.

Joan’s mentoring and guidance to me, a fledgling public health practitioner, was invaluable. She was never too busy to listen to my questions and point me in the right direction so I could make progress in my program. Over the years I followed in her footsteps – literally – as I became MCH Section Chief after her, then Bureau Chief for Community Health Services, then DPHS Deputy Director. Joan and I completed the Northeast Public Health Leadership Institute together. As we spent time that year reflecting on leadership qualities, it was clear why she was a wonderful boss. It was her leadership skills. When she retired from DPHS, it was a true loss for the State’s public health system.

Luckily for New Hampshire, Joan agreed, in 2017, to take on the challenges then facing the NHPHA. If you’ve met Joan, you can’t miss her passion for public health. She shows this conviction in her daily work, always. Joan has a talent for communicating public health’s higher purpose and is always looking for ways to improve these efforts. She can facilitate a diverse group as they seek a common goal, then help them develop specific objectives and metrics to track their achievements. She never hesitates to give credit where it is due and to celebrate the achievements of others. These are qualities of an exemplary leader.

Over these past three years, Joan has brought her expertise to bear on NHPHA. She has worked diligently to develop strategic and operational plans, forge new partnerships, develop new programs, and focus the organization so that it meets its strategic imperatives. As a result of Joan’s hard work, we are a stronger and better organization, ready to move forward to the next stage in our organizational life, and more prepared to address the critical public health needs we currently face in our state.

The good news? While Joan is retiring, she’ll still be in New Hampshire and is willing to help out NHPHA where needed. Please join me in wishing her a healthy and productive retirement!

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