NACHW Founders

About NACHW’s Founders

Early national organizing through the American Public Health Association (APHA) and Unity Conference paved the way for national CHW organizing (first AACHW,  now NACHW).

This history can be traced back decades to the CHR, promotora/es movements, as well as the grassroots community work CHWs performed in the United States for centuries. Click here to learn more about our history from the Founder’s Circle panel at Unity 2023!

About the Founder’s Circle

The Founder’s Circle includes those founders who completed at least one full term in office as Board members. 

The Founder’s Circle advances and protects the mission and vision of NACHW to best advance the CHW workforce in line with NACHW’s values. 

  • Like the sheepherders, founders are watchful, encouraging and guiding. They keep focused on CHW values and preserve best practices of the workforce to advance a vision born from tremendous labor of grassroots movements of the past.
  • Founders share their history of the long and sometimes challenging path taken to inspire, educate, and inform those who step into leadership in the movement so they can continue the work with the necessary skills and knowledge, values, cultural sensitivity/rootedness, and commitment to the workforce integrity. Founders provide support to the new carriers of the vision.



Founders Circle (FC) members represent 11 states and are diverse in languages spoken, geography, race/ethnicity, and expertise. Founders Circle members identify as Native American (2), Asian (1), Hispanic, Latin(a/o/x) (4), Black or African American (5), and White or Caucasian (4). Eleven members are CHWs, including CHRs, or Promotoras.

Areas of Expertise – Board and Founder’s Circle

Areas of expertise among the board and founders circle members are extensive. Most members have lived and professional expertise in several key areas of focus. Below include some highlights:

    • CHW Practice: clinical and community based community health work core roles, including outreach, care coordination, health education, patient navigation, culturally-rooted care. 
    • Community Health Workers: Workforce Development, History, Policy, Advocacy, Training, Organizing, Core competencies, Network/Association Development, Certification, Employment, Financing, Sustainability, CHW leadership development  
    • Public Health: health equity, social determinants of health, public health policy, community-based research, program development, research and evaluation 
    • Mental health: trauma-informed care, advocacy, caregiving, wraparound support
    • Violence prevention and intervention: domestic violence, community violence, survivors of violence, violence prevention and intervention
    • Maternal and Child Health
    • Disability and Disability advocacy
    • Criminal justice system involvement and re-entry
    • Education: CHW Core competency training, Popular education
  • Emergency response, FEMA response, COVID-19, vaccine events
    • Specific population priorities (Migrant health, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, Native American and Tribal communities, rural health, farmworkers, veterans, youth and young adults)
  • Chronic disease management and education (e.g., diabetes, HIV)
  • CHW integration into inter-professional patient-centered settings
  • Many more areas of expertise 

Naomi Cottoms (AR)

Founder's Circle

Durrell Fox, CHW (GA)

Founder's Circle

Additional NACHW founders include: 

  • Carl Rush, Ally (TX)
  • Sergio Matos, CHW (NY)
  • Napualani Spock, CHW (HI)
  • Anita McDonnell, Ally (PA)
  • Alise Sanchez, CHW (OR)


States Represented by NACHW Founders