New Board Member Brings Public Advocacy Perspective to HRiA
Public health advocate Lori Fresina is particular when deciding where to serve as a board member.
"I'm pretty selective," Fresina admits. "I like when I find an organization I really believe in, a place where I feel I can make a difference."
Too often, she says, board members are given no clear direction, and the position ends up being mostly about fund raising.
When Fresina was asked to join the board of Health Resources in Action recently, however, she jumped at the opportunity.
"I was honored to be offered this position," Fresina, senior vice president and director of M+R Strategic Services' New England office said, "it will be a good opportunity to learn and grow."
Fresina has worked for nearly 20 years in public health advocacy and is considered an expert in grassroots mobilization, coalition building, and engaging nonprofits and volunteers in political strategies to advance public health. For nine years, Fresina worked for the American Cancer Society's New England Division and then for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids for five years before joining M+R Strategic Services.
"Lori was instrumental in helping to develop the statewide effort to control tobacco through the late 1990s and 2000s," said HRiA President Ray Considine. "She is an accomplished advocate and a strategic thinker. We are fortunate to have her on board."
Fresina has collaborated with HRiA on some of its anti-tobacco programs, including The 84, a statewide anti-tobacco youth movement managed by HRiA and funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
"I'm impressed with the way HRiA has gone beyond simply servicing the health issues of the day but is helping to shape those issues," Fresina said.
In her work with M+R, Fresina has helped nonprofit groups, health departments and other organizations find their voice and reach their advocacy goals. Fresina works with a variety of clients, including most recently the National MPS Society, a small group of committed parents who are pushing to fund research into their children's rare genetic disorder.
"This disorder can be fatal, so these parents are literally fighting to save the lives of their kids," she said. "When you look at the funding for rare diseases, it's daunting and scary and hard. But it's awesome to know you might be able to make it easier for them. When you meet the parents and kids, you get why you would do anything you could to help."
When working with clients, Fresina uses the "power prism", a tool she helped develop a decade ago. It serves as a model for planning, evaluating and executing advocacy campaigns that calls for using six crucial tools: research and data collection; coalition building and maintenance; fundraising and development; grassroots efforts and key contacts; media advocacy, communications and social media; and decision-maker advocacy and lobbying.
"These great public health professionals come into the field, and yet they don't know how to do advocacy because they never learned how," she said.
Fresina was voted on to HRiA's board at the organization's annual meeting in January for a three-year term and looks forward to working with Considine and HRiA's staff."I know I'll learn a lot being part of the team."