Stakeholder Engagement videos

The SOPHIA Stakeholder Engagement Working Group created a series of videos in which HIA practitioners share their narratives related to stakeholder engagement. These videos are for any practitioner working to lead meaningful stakeholder engagement for their HIA process.

There is no single approach for engaging the diverse community groups, decision makers, and practitioners whose participation is key to successful Health Impact Assessments (HIA).  The following videos, put together by the SOPHIA’s Stakeholder Engagement Workgroup, demonstrate creative and practical techniques to engage community members, decision makers and other practitioners as part of the HIA process. By sharing these stories, the workgroup aims to honor the oral tradition of storytelling and support the HIA values of democracy and equity.

While these videos depict the uniqueness of each HIA and a variety of approaches to stakeholder engagement, a number of key themes emerged from the wisdom shared:

  • Build rapport with all stakeholders early in the process
  • Be persistent, good relationship building takes time and energy
  • Establish partnerships with an organization(s) familiar to community stakeholders with the intent of maintaining the partnership beyond the life of the HIA
  • Be open to seeking opportunities for information sharing with stakeholders that goes beyond the HIA
  • Engagement opportunities should pose no barriers; ensure meeting locations are physically and culturally accessible and convenient for stakeholders to attend
  • Meet with stakeholders in environments that are familiar to them – e.g. pre-existing meetings or community events


Read more information and see the each video by clicking the links below. 


VIDEO 1: Community Voices Inform Neighborhood Planning

This video shows how the process of HIA can reveal ways that empower stakeholders to create healthier communities before the HIA is done.

HIA Practitioner: Gretchen Armijo, Denver Environmental Health Department

Who? This HIA was conducted to consider health in a new Neighborhood Plan for Westwood, and build a community that better supports health and wellness. Neighborhood plans set policy for future land use, multimodal transportation, parks and recreation, and essential local services. The Denver Environmental Health Department led the HIA in cooperation with key resident, business and government stakeholders.

What? The Westwood neighborhood in Denver is a densely populated, majority Hispanic community with many young children. Families have less income, education and English literacy than the City average. Public and private disinvestment over the years had resulted in a built environment that posed daily challenges for residents to exercise, eat well, and travel safely to school and jobs. The first Neighborhood Plan in 30 years was an opportunity for a coalition of residents to work with the City to re-envision their community as a healthy, resilient place for current and future generations

Why? Why did residents in this neighborhood have trouble accessing basic City services to fix broken streetlights, pick up trash, and control loose animals? While the HIA was conducted to inform the new Neighborhood Plan, it also uncovered barriers to addressing current problems that were preventing residents from achieving good health. Following issues ‘upstream’ to achieve multidisciplinary solutions was one unexpected outcome of this HIA.


VIDEO 2: The Power of Partnering with Community-Based Organizations

Through partnership with a trusted community-based organization (CBO), the HIA team demonstrates how more meaningful engagement can occur with two HIAs.

HIA Practitioner: Ellen Schwaller, Harris County Public Health

Who? Harris County Public Health, in partnership with East Aldine District (EAD) and the City of Pasadena (COP), Texas, lead the two HIAs simultaneously. A key community-based organization who works throughout the county, was key in aiding in community outreach for the HIAs.

What? EAD, along with a number of consultants and agencies, proposed to develop a 61-acre town center with social and community services, retail/commercial, and recreation areas on a major thoroughfare in close proximity to 6 school campuses. EAD is a low-income, minority community in unincorporated Harris County. COP is known for its close proximity to and role in the petrochemical industry. It is the second largest city in Harris County after Houston, and is undertaking rewrites to a number of planning ordinances governing design and siting of residential developments. COP does not have a zoning code and has opted out of the metropolitan transportation system.

Why? Harris County Public Health is responsible for over 2 million residents in Harris County. Community-based organizations are key connectors, stakeholders, and champions for our communities. Being able to work alongside with a CBO who is connected in multiple neighborhoods throughout the county is helpful when engaging community members. CBOs often have deep-rooted ties to a community and can help build trust and set expectations for conducting HIA. They can also help when working to monitor and evaluate the impact of an HIA.


VIDEO 3: Meaningful, Wide-reaching Community Engagement on a Limited Budget

This example of a transit project HIA describes how using community events to host meetings resulted in broad and meaningful engagement on a tight budget.

HIA Practitioner: Edwin DeMott, Vermont Department of Health

Who? The Burlington District Office of the Vermont Department of Health was the lead agency for the Health Impact Assessment. The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) and their contracted consulting firm oversaw the project design. A project steering committee was formed by the CCRPC. Other committee members/HIA partners included: The Town of Milton, Milton Town School District, Recreation Department and local businesses.

What? The HIA examined the health impacts of proposals put forth to make a 3-mile stretch of US Route 7 in Milton, Vermont a more complete street. This project had the potential to impact the population’s health, particularly with regard to chronic disease, injury, and access. The Health Impact Assessment answers the following questions: - What are the potential health impacts of proposed changes to US 7 in Milton? - Which proposals have the most potential to improve the health of the population?

Why? Given the temporal and financial constraints for our HIA we wanted to come up with creative ideas for how to engage with community. We focused on using existing events/meetings as a strategy for engaging diverse members of the community. To do this we partnered with a community group, the Milton Community Youth Coalition to help spearhead our community engagement. This coalition had established a Community Dinner Series to promote access to healthy foods and promote local agriculture. The dinners are a major community event and consistently draw several hundred people of a broad demographic. We used the Community Dinner Series to garner input from the public on the potential redesign of their main street and then returned two months later to present preliminary project plans –giving folks another chance to provide feedback on the process. Over the course of both events – hundreds of people expressed their views. Given that the Regional Planning Commission typically has single digit attendance at their community events, we thought this was a great success. We also met with a woman’s circle at the Milton Family Community Center to get their perspectives on the project. They key was going to where people already came together.


Video 4: Building Relationships with Key Decision makers
An example ‘long-range’ engagement with state-level decision makers that fostered HIA in the legislative process.

HIA Practitioner: Sheena Smith, Kansas Health Institute


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