Leveraging Policy Advocacy Skills to Tackle the Nation's Toughest Health Challenges

An Interview With Marjorie Paloma

Field of Work: Health policy advocacy

Problem Synopsis: There is a common set of policy advocacy skills that can be used to address an array of health issues in communities. Yet, advocacy organizations have traditionally operated in silos, focusing on only one issue area.

Synopsis of the Work: From 2004 through 2010, Marjorie Paloma, a senior policy adviser for RWFJ, was the program officer for Tobacco Policy Change, which provided resources and technical assistance to local, regional, and national organizations and tribal groups to implement effective tobacco prevention and cessation policy initiatives.

In this interview she reflects on work of the grantees to broaden the reach of tobacco policies—such as clean indoor air ordinances, tobacco taxes, Medicaid coverage of cessation services—into states and communities with higher percentages of poor people, blue-collar workers, people of color, and other groups disproportionately affected by tobacco use.

A number of grantees were able to transfer the skills and abilities they had applied to tobacco policy advocacy to address other critical public health needs, including childhood obesity, access to health care, outdoor air pollution, radon exposure, intimate partner violence, and workforce wellness.

"People who are influencers on one issue may become influencers on another issue," she said. "It is important to broaden those relationships and make those connections."