As public health systems across the country are strategizing around public health modernization and transformation, PHAB’s Center for Innovation asked our 21st Century (21C) Learning Community to identify areas of need amongst a variety of transformation-related topics. 21C is currently comprised of 19 state-wide public health systems looking to systematically modernize and transform public health. Over the coming months, we will share findings through a series of blogs, starting with three topic areas outlined below.


Conducting assessments to assess capabilities and costs of providing core public health services and gaps to achieve full implementation:

  • Guidance on what tools to use, what parameters/guidelines should be including, and how to demonstrate return on investment of conduct this work.
  • Assess post COVID emergency response needs versus pre-COVID.
  • Seeking strategies on how best to use data from these assessments to advocate for sustainable investments in public health infrastructure and systems.

Workforce development and workforce models:

  • Understand how to best leverage partnerships to provide public health across a community (e.g., academic health department partnerships).
  • Innovating in structures for workforce across a state to create efficiencies and enhance effectiveness.
  • Seeking strategies in thinking about recruitment and hiring, and developing a pipeline, that reflects the communities served and a broad range of lived and learned experiences and expertise.
  • Retraining and reskilling in ways to support public health transformation.
  • Supporting current and future practitioners and leaders through mental health resources and trauma-informed practices.
  • Redesigning historical policies and practices that no longer serve public health.


  • Telling the public health story and effective communication around investments in public health. Effective strategies in selling the value of public health to legislators.
  • Translating information between internal and external audiences to create compelling messages.
  • Innovative ways to combat mis/disinformation.
  • Investing in staffing, capabilities, and capacities for communications.
  • Understanding how communications and messaging should occur across various people, sectors, and communities.