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Host a Conference

Interested in pulling together local health and community development leaders for a conference in your own community? Below find suggestions and resources for getting started, organizing an agenda, drawing the audience you want, and steps to follow after the event.

Making the Case

We’re glad to hear that you are interested in hosting a Healthy Communities conference! Over 30 Healthy Communities Conferences have been organized by the regional Federal Reserve Banks to help leaders across sectors (community development, public health, finance, health care) explore how they can collaborate more actively to create communities where all people can lead rewarding and healthy lives.

Some initial thoughts to consider:

  • Develop a concise description of what you are trying to do, why it’s important, and what you hope the long-term impact will be. These messages should highlight how the work benefits your own organization in addition to the people that you serve.
  • Adopt a larger vision beyond a one-time event – the ultimate goal is to create new relationships for ongoing community-driven efforts to improve the health and well-being of people in your community.
  • Look for opportunities to have follow-up meetings or events to keep people engaged.
  • Find and develop relationships with ambassadors for your work. Consider non-traditional partners – you never know who might “take the ball and run with it.”
  • Seek opportunities to connect new partners with one another.  It might take more than one conversation for them to find the right opportunities to work together – expect to take on lots of relationship building.

We’re guessing that in order to host the conference, you have to get buy-in from key stakeholders. We’ve compiled a short list of resources below to help you make the case for cross-sector collaboration.

Mapping Life Expectancy

  • Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health City Life has created a series of U.S. city maps illustrating the striking differences in life expectancy between neighborhoods

Investing in What Works for America’s Communities

  • A joint project between the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), What Works calls on leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build on what we know is working to move the needle on poverty.

What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities

  • A joint project between the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Urban Institute, What Counts outlines opportunities and challenges for the strategic use of data to reduce poverty, improve health, expand access to quality education, and build stronger communities.

What It’s Worth: Strengthening the Financial Future of Families, Communities, and the Nation

  • A partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), What It’s Worth demonstrates how those who work outside traditional financial capacity building in education, health, housing, workforce training, justice and other sectors play a critical role in removing barriers to financial health and well-being.

Making the Case for Linking Community Development and Health

  • This report from the UCSF Center on Social Disparities in Health, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Build Healthy Places Network is intended to be a resource for those working to improve low-income communities and the lives of the people living in them.

Community Close Ups

  • The Build Healthy Places Network’s case study series featuring innovative community developers and how they are making a real difference in the neighborhoods they are revitalizing – creating places that offer the physical, social and economic resources that all people need in order to live healthy lives. Cross-sector collaboration is a given in these projects, as are new ways of thinking about community revitalization.

Health Affairs: Linking Community Development & Health

  • The November issue of Health Affairs includes a group of articles on community development and health, authored by leading experts in both fields.

Finding Partners

Now that you’ve gotten the buy-in, how about co-hosting the conference with at least one other organization outside of your traditional sector? We highly encourage it; this partnership will help you develop opportunities for knowledge sharing and on-the-ground collaboration, as well as engage new audiences.

Previous Healthy Communities conferences and their co-hosts include:

  • Washington, DC – The Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJF) Foundation.
  • Los Angeles, CA– The California Endowment, Community Partners, NCB Capital Impact, Iris Cantor Center for Women’s Health, University of California Los Angeles, Low Income Investment Fund
  • Boston, MA – Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Local Initiatives Support Corporation Boston, Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Mel King Institute for Community Building, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

You can also use our Partner Finder – a curated collection of national directories to find the community development and health organizations nearest to you.

Creating the Agenda

As you think about developing the meeting themes, goals, and agenda, draw on previous Healthy Communities conferences for ideas. For example, a meeting co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and HousingWorks Austin focused on Housing + Health. We’ve included several other agendas from past Healthy Communities conferences below.

Speakers & Panelists

Speakers and panelists are largely determined by the conference goals, topics, and audience. Some conferences have emphasized financing or health, while others have focused on urban planning, health, and housing. Most include a mix of nationally recognized and regional speakers. Panels representing a broad set of sectors and perspectives may foster more collaborative discussion.

Promotion Tips


Healthy Communities conferences have been organized to help leaders across fields explore how they can collaborate more actively to help communities thrive. Getting the right people in the room for these collaborative discussions is critical.

Your goal should be to invite a diverse group of participants who are working across sectors to improve the prosperity and well-being of your community. As you think about who to invite, consider organizations and individuals that fall into these categories:

  • Academia, Business, Community Development, Early Childhood Development, Education, Finance, Government, Health, Housing, Philanthropy, Transportation, Urban Planning

Online Promotion

There a number of online promotion channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) to get the word out about the meeting. Some tips:

    • Provide sample posts, tweets and images to conference partners and supporters for easy social media promotion.
    • Consider which social media channel is best suited for your audience. For example, an email invitation versus Instagram posts would attract different audiences.
    • Previous Healthy Communities conferences have used the hashtag #FedHealth


  • You can also develop a new hashtag specifically for your conference and use that hashtag throughout the day.


  • Tag and target specific organizations/individuals based on the goals and audience.
  • Draft blog language describing intended goals, audience and outcomes.
  • Consider creating a communications toolkit that includes all sample social media language, images, and a promotion timeline to provide to speakers, panelists and key partner organizations who will help with promotion.
  • Asking for a communications staff member at partner organization to help with promotion is an easy way to increase your reach.

You may also consider investing resources in a live webcast of the meeting. There are three immediate benefits:

  1. Creates an online experience that mirrors the live event for people who cannot be present
  2. Allows for real-time discussions on Twitter and other social media platforms
  3. Provides a record of the meeting that can be edited or shared with others.

For the conference, include the Twitter handles of all speakers on slides or a bio page handout so that the audience can tweet during the conference.

Immediately following the conference, a social media tip would be to use Storify which captures the Twitter engagement from the day. Designate one person to tweet and monitor Twitter all day.

Follow Up & Next Steps

Keeping the lines of communication open and following up with conference attendees can help increase awareness, interest, and a desire for different sectors to collaborate. Here are a few suggestions for your next steps:

Send a thank you email with any conference handouts, an attendee list, and any social media summaries (ex: Storify).

Create an evaluation form for participants to fill out at the end of the conference to help guide future events and follow-up activities.  Below are evaluation forms from previous conferences:

Think about meetings or webinars on relevant topics that can lead to further action.

  • Asking people – either in evaluation forms or surveys – what they’d most like to learn about can help you decide which topics to discuss further.

Write a post-event blog summarizing the meeting activities and outcomes. This can be posted on your website and shared externally to be posted on partner websites (like the Build Healthy Places Network!).

Create a space for success stories that show outcomes in diverse settings.

Invite conference attendees to submit their own stories of collaboration and progress on community projects.