Case Synopsis

Sarah Johnson was given the task to create a Public Health Leadership Hub within the OPHA website that could provide resources for development of leadership for professionals in the Public Health sector. Another task was to work on developing an initial curriculum for an intensive leadership development program. Both of these tasks would be a part of the development of a Leadership Center at OPHA. Some of the ground work was already done by the Ontario Public Health Association, including a program proposal.

Sarah started doing a scan on developments taking place in this field in Canada and other parts of the world. Sarah’s own findings, along with a report from the Community Health Nurses of Canada, made it clear to her that there was a possibility of addressing this knowledge gap through the provision of learning resources combined with an educational program.

A Leadership Reference Group was created to provide advice on the program content, delivery, possible participants, speakers, teaching methods, and duration. This reference group included representatives from OPHA’s Board of Directors, academics, long time public health leaders, OPHA’s Executive Director, some staff members, and Sarah.

Based on an assessment of gaps and opportunities, OPHA’s Public Health Leadership Center planned to focus on five areas:

  1. Mentoring and Coaching
  2. Leadership Development and Training
  3. Networking and Communities of Practice
  4. Leadership Research and Resource Center
  5. An Annual Leadership Summit and Leadership Awards

Case Objectives

  1. Understand the unique role of public health leadership from that of other health care professionals.
  2. Recognize the importance of formal leadership training and the difference it can make in the way that people work.
  3. Identify the best mode of delivering training/resources and recognize the participants who would benefit the most.
  4. Develop evaluation measures to test the effectiveness of a leadership program.

Case Study Questions

  1. What does Sarah need to consider/know more to move ahead?
  2. What are the various complex issues that can be addressed through leadership development?
  3. What would be the best source of funding for this particular program?
  4. What is the relationship between strong leadership and community health and well-being?
  5. How should support be built for leadership training and promotion of the program?


public health leadership, leadership training and education, intersectoral collaboration, environmental scan

Additional Author Information

Savnit Kaur, DBS, MPH

Pegeen Walsh, BA, Executive Director

Ava John Baptiste, PhD. Assistant Professor

Amanda Terry, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Kaur, S., Walsh, P., John Baptiste, A., Terry, A., (2016). The Unique Role of Leadership in Public Health. in: Terry, A.L. & John-Baptiste, A. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2016. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.