ASTHO at 75: Celebrating the Past and Preparing for the Future
As De Tocqueville notes in the aforementioned quotation, a unique feature of American democracy is the formation of voluntary associations created to promote shared values, goals, and policy agendas. In this regard, ASTHO is no different from the thousands of other trade associations and professional societies that cover the vast array of interests on behalf of their various constituencies in our nation's capital. But ASTHO is unique: there is no other national association that represents and convenes the leadership of S/THOs and is concerned with the wide variety of issues and policies that directly impact state and territorial health agencies. ASTHO's core mission is future-focused and dynamic: ASTHO exists to “transform public health within states and territories to help members dramatically improve health and wellness.”2 To accomplish its mission, ASTHO supports the leadership and professional development of S/THOs and their executive teams, it advocates for the work of member agencies, and it collaborates funding partners and public health stakeholders to build the capacity of state and territorial health agencies.
Over the last 20 years, ASTHO's capacity-building work has led to the development of a substantial body of technical assistance and training support for state and territorial health agencies in the many programmatic and operational areas of agency performance. Today, ASTHO employs a professional staff of more than 130 public health professionals, manages an annual budget of $28 million, is active in all 59 states, territories, and Pacific Freely Associated States, and relies on countless hours of volunteer leadership and subject matter expertise of current health officers, ASTHO “alumni,” senior deputies, and affiliated public health organizations and associations to carry out its work.