Public Health National Association of Local Boards of Health
Ned E. Baker, Marie Fallon
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 February 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0017


In 1991, Ned Baker (Ohio) and Vaughn Upshaw (North Carolina) convened a meeting with state associations of boards of health (from Massachusetts, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, and Utah) in Atlanta, to identify the needs of local boards of health and their interest in forming a national organization. The decision was unanimous to form a national organization to address the identified needs: advocacy, national voice, communication, education, training, technical assistance, data collection, and research. The National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH) was formed in 1992 to represent more than 20,000 members of policy-making, governing and advisory boards of health in the United States. Even though NALBOH’s name focuses on “local” boards, which comprise the largest segment of its constituents, it is the only national organization dedicated to representing and serving state, local, tribal, and territorial public health governing bodies. State associations continue to be an integral part of its goal of improving public health outcomes in the communities served. NALBOH’s mission is to improve public health governance. Its vision is to have boards of health that are appointed as a result of a well-informed selection process; composed of individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities to represent and serve effectively; are well connected to other stakeholders in public health and government; are effectively and competently serving the public health needs of their communities in accordance with the core functions and essential public health services; and are aware of NALBOH’s resources and actively engaged in its success. This membership organization strives to prepare and strengthen boards of health, empowering them to promote and protect the health of their communities through advocacy, education, training, and technical assistance. NALBOH is governed by a board of directors composed of four officers, seven regional directors, two state association affiliate directors, and three ex-officio board members. These services are provided through a staff of ten at the main headquarters in Bowling Green, Ohio, and a staff of two in the Washington, DC, office, along with the dedicated help of numerous volunteers from across the country. Board of health members have access to a quarterly, Newsbrief, and educational materials in four major categories: board governance, community health, environmental health, and preparedness.

Introductory Works

In addition to published resources, NALBOH offers two major face-to-face educational opportunities. The first is the Ned E. Baker Lecture in Public Health that occurs annually as a kick-off celebration to Public Health Week, usually at the beginning of April. This lecture series is hosted and webcast by the College of Health and Human Services at Bowling Green State University and NALBOH. It provides expert public health information and is an opportunity for boards of health and state associations to reach out to their constituents, provide valuable public health information, and increase awareness of NALBOH and public health. The second face-to-face educational opportunity is NALBOH’s annual conference, held in different locations across the United States. This is the only national conference designed for board of health members with a track specifically for the leadership team of a health officer and board member. Attendees come from the forty-three states with local boards of health and thirty-one states with state boards of health, in addition to tribal, territorial, and international participants. As well as directly serving member boards of health, NALBOH has been committed to supporting the development and growth of state associations of local boards of health (SALBOHs). In 1991, six such state associations existed. With NALBOH’s influence and support, by 2010 there were fourteen SALBOHs (Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin) and two emerging SALBOHs (Connecticut and Georgia). Additional states (Iowa and Washington) had expressed initial interest in forming a SALBOH. NALBOH’s continued involvement in this area helps create greater resources at the state and local levels that serve and strengthen boards of health and eliminates duplication of efforts, thus allowing NALBOH to use its resources to expand state and local efforts. Baker 2001 provides a brief description of NALBOH.

  • Baker, N. E. 2001. Boards of health. In Encyclopedia of public health.

    Definition and description of the National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH). This organization is the only national advocate for public health governing boards and the grassroots representative of public health. Its headquarters are in Bowling Green, Ohio. NALBOH was conceived in 1991 when six state associations of boards of health met in Atlanta and agreed on the value and necessity of a national organization. NALBOH was formed in 1992 as a nonprofit organization for the purpose of providing education for board of health members.

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