Growing the Community Health Worker Dynamic in Iowa: Opportunities to Train and Support CHWs

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers and trusted community resources. There is growing evidence indicating that CHWs advance health equity, improve health outcomes, and reduce health care costs. Because they are trusted members of the communities served they play a vital role in addressing social determinants of health and the root causes of poor health. The State of Iowa received a federal CHW training grant that will allow CHW training to reach CHWs from across the state, thus building resources, resilience, and capacity in communities to address the social needs of under-represented Iowans. The three-year grant has three distinct opportunities for CHW training: a comprehensive skills-based training program, a Department of Labor-approved CHW Registered Apprenticeship, and a Public Health Leadership Training course to provide continuing, upskill education to current CHWs and other health support workers. Participants will receive information on the training and how they can become involved in helping create a strong CHW workforce in Iowa.


Funding for this course was provided by the Health Resources Services Administration, Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) 93.241).

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will understand how CHWs are defined and the important roles they serve in the community.
  • Participants will have knowledge about the HRSA CHW training grant and the implications for Iowa.
  • Participants will gain awareness of the growing CHW dynamic in Iowa and ways they can support and promote utilization of this important workforce in their own professional settings.
Course summary
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Debra Kazmerzak, BASW
Iowa Chronic Care Consortium

Deb Kazmerzak has been working within Iowa’s health and human services systems for more than 30 years in a variety of roles – from front-line to administration to leadership. Currently Kazmerzak works as an independent contractor supporting a variety of nonprofit organizations. Mission is central to the organizations and issues Kazmerzak supports, with a focus on project management, supporting systems and fostering positive change for under-represented populations and communities. 
For the last seven years, Kazmerzak has partnered with the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium to raise awareness, build support, and create infrastructure to support training and utilization of CHWs in Iowa.


Abby Less, MPH
Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (Iowa HHS)

Abby Less works in the Bureau of Policy and Workforce Services at the Iowa HHS. She assists in the research, development, implementation, and evaluation of health care initiatives and policies that impact the health of Iowans. The Bureau of Policy and Workforce Services is a key point of contact for health care transformation initiatives within the department. Her undergraduate degree was completed at Iowa State University in Kinesiology and Health and her Master’s degree in Public Health was completed at Des Moines University.

No continuing education is provided for this course. The user will receive a certificate of completion upon completing the course.

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