Here in East Tennessee and around the country, we always strive to improve the health of our communities. The first step in doing this is to start a conversation.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, will be coming to ETSU to talk about this very subject in the Millennium Centre Oct. 30 at 6 p.m.

Dr. Randy Wykoff, the dean of the college of Public Health, says Benjamin is an expert in his field and excellent person to be speaking on this subject.

“He’s a very well-known national leader in health policy,” Wykoff said. “It’s a real honor to have someone like him in our region.”

The college of Public Health brings in different professionals to speak on topics such as this, giving the community an opportunity to listen to and discuss various ideas and issues within the field of public health.

“We have a series called ‘The Leading Voices in Public Health,’” Wykoff said. “We bring in these top-level people and let them talk about whatever they’re interested in. For the last 11 years or so, we’ve been bringing in outside folks who are experts in all sorts of different areas.”

Not only will Benjamin be discussing how to improve health of communities on a national scale, he will also talk about ways East Tennessee specifically can do this.

“He’ll be talking about how to create healthy communities,” Wykoff said. “He will be discussing what we would have to do to build the healthiest nation in the world, which is really important for us in this region. What are some things in North East Tennessee that we can do to improve our health?”

The American Public Health Association represents all the state public health associations. Wykoff encourages anyone involved in any form of public health to attend.

“I would encourage any student who is thinking they want to be in the health sciences or any kind of city development to come listen to this and see what he has to say,” Wykoff said. “I think it will be really interesting to anyone who is interested in the health sciences or anyone who is going to medical or pharmacy school. These kind of issues really cross disciplines. They’re important to everyone.”

Anyone in the community that is interested can attend the event. The topic will be relevant to anyone who values the health of the community and communities in the country.

“We encourage everyone to come,” Wykoff said. “What we ideally like is the speaker to encourage us to start thinking and talking about new issues.”

Wykoff expects the talk to be beneficial and hopes it will start a dialogue about public health.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I look forward to hearing what he has to say.”