Brief History

In September 2015, following the Boundary Spanning Leadership Institute (BSLI) sessions, the BHN steering committee held a three hour retreat, which allowed those who attended the BSLI to share many of the lessons and tools obtained during the BSLI training with the three steering committee members who had been unable to attend.  At this retreat, we began a conversation to determine the primary focus of our work.  Over the next several months we engaged in a series of discussions and debates to determine the most appropriate way for us to work with the communities we seek to serve. Some members felt we should focus on one specific topic while others thought we should broaden our work and aim to assume the role of a backbone organization for a collective impact initiative to create a culture of health in Newark.  We had several meetings during which time we learned about and discussed the collective impact process and its five conditions: common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and the development of a backbone support organization.

After months of robust discussion, we decided to work toward assuming the role of a backbone organization that would facilitate collaboration among governmental, educational, philanthropic, health-related, and community-based organizations working in the three focus areas identified.  As an emerging backbone organization, we will strive to meet the requirements outlined below that are taken from the Winter 2011 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review:

“The backbone organization requires a dedicated staff separate from the participating organizations who can plan, manage, and support the initiative through ongoing facilitation, technology and communications support, data collection and reporting, and handling the myriad logistical and administrative details needed for the initiative to function smoothly”.  (

Utilizing the resources provided by a New Jersey Health Initiatives grant in July 2015, augmented by the resources of the organizational members of the steering committee, we have sought to fulfill the requirements of a backbone organization over time. Key to our success in assuming the role of a backbone organization has been the steering committee’s ability to demonstrate to partnering organizations the value of aligning our collective visions to improve the culture of health and health outcomes in Newark.

Steering Committee

Name Organization
Ketlan Alsbrook, MPA Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness
Darrin Anderson, PhD, MS NJ Partnership for Healthy Kids
New Jersey YMCA State Alliance
Michael Bright YMCA of Newark and Vicinity
Peter Chen, JD Advocates for Children of New Jersey
Craig Drinkard, MBA Victoria Foundation
Leslie Kantor, PhD, MPH Rutgers School of Public Health
Keri Logosso-Misurell, JD Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition
John Mooney NJ Spotlight
Denise Rodgers, MD Rutgers University
Danielle Cores-Smith, MBA United Way of Greater Newark
Jennifer Velez, JD Former NJ Human Services Commissioner
Charlie Venti Inventive Strategies LLC
Catherine Wilson, MSW United Way of Greater Newark