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Building on longstanding partnerships between local health departments and the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) Department of Population Health, the Kansas Public Health Innovations Initiative will engage local health departments in developing partnerships to support areas in which local health departments hope to establish, deepen, or expand expertise and capacity. The goals of this three-year initiative are to:

  • Strengthen public health practice in Kansas communities;
  • Spark innovation in public health practice;
  • Implement strategies aimed at assuring the sustainability of foundational public health services.

To accomplish these goals, KUMC and partnering local health departments are establishing three cores of support from which local health departments can draw assistance, and resources: the Epidemiology/Informatics core, the Planning/Policy core, and the Leadership/Administrative core. Participating departments will work with KUMC faculty and staff to identify needs and assets with a focus on strengthening their ability to deliver foundational public health services.


To get involved in the Sunflower Project, please email Vicki Collie-Akers at We will discuss what you would like out of this relationship and what services you need.

Yes, there is a brief and informal application process. First, we would like the health department to contact us so that we can get a better understanding of their needs and wants. Once health departments reach out to us, there will be a follow up discussion scheduled for health departments and KUMC staff to gather in order to understand the needs and aspirations of each party.

Currently, there are no more positions on our Sunflower Project Advisory Board for the next year. However, there may be opportunities to join the board after this time. For students, learning experiences may be available if you interested. Please contact Vicki Collie-Akers ( or Sydney Walls ( for more information.

The hope for this project is that resources and services will be available throughout the project’s available time. Here are some examples of items that the Sunflower Project can assist with:

  • Development and completion of Community Health Assessments/Plans
  • Supporting strategic planning
  • Establishing performance management/quality improvement
  • Conducting health impact assessments
  • Providing training to staff on key need areas/ developing a training plan to support development of key competencies among staff
  • Evaluations of existing programs or policies or development of evaluation plans to support programs or policies

Consultation and exploration of how multi-sector partnerships can support local health department efforts

You can contact the following if you have any questions:
Vicki Collie-Akers - Associate Professor:
Dan Partridge - Director of Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health:
Sydney Walls - Graduate Research Assistant:

Nothing! This project is completely supported by the Sunflower Foundation. We anticipate that each participating LHD will receive about $20,000 annually of resources through staff time and support.

We hope to enlist LHDs in this work in early spring 2021. Our hope is that we could develop an annual action plan by the end of March, and then work on implementing that for the next year. In March 2022, we would develop a new annual action plan. The project will wrap up in June 2023, but it is the aspiration of the project that a sustainable partnership will be developed.

You may contact Vicki Collie-Akers for information and assistance throughout the project.

Vicki Collie-Akers:

This project is a three-year initiative; however, the aspiration of this project is to create long and sustainable relationships between KUMC and the local health department past the end date of the project.

School of Medicine

Population Health
Mail Stop 1008
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Fax: 913-588-2780