Monthly Archives:

COI Highlight: Introducing Dan Bennett

Dan Bennett


Dan Bennett is a Communications Director at UC San Diego Center for Community Health and a San Diego native who has worked on community-health projects for the past seven years, leading communications and messaging efforts, and helping organizations tell their story through focus on human impact, including storytelling training for organization staff. Dan spent more than 20 years as a reporter for daily newspapers in San Diego, and has also written freelance for the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly and other regional and national publications, including numerous health publications.  Dan is the COI Media Domain Co-Chair.

When did you know that you wanted to work in media?

I grew up in San Diego, and at an early age was reading daily newspapers, watching television news and listening to radio news. I was compelled by the process of sharing information - how it was accomplished, and what it meant  -  and knew early on I wanted to be a part of that sharing, through media. These days, information is shared much differently, and anyone can do it. That presents some challenges, but I continue to see that effective and accurate information sharing is an important part of a vital and healthy community.

How did you become involved in the COI?

In 2010, I started work for UC San Diego Center for Community Health as communications manager for a CDC-funded project called Communities Putting Prevention to Work, implemented by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. The work connected to the goals of the COI, and I began working with the COI as a member of the Media Domain. I continued collaborating with COI on media while I was communications manager for the County's Healthy Works initiative, then stayed on the COI Media Domain when I returned to UCSD, now serving as the domain co-chair while working on REACH Chula Vista, a project advancing community-health opportunities in western Chula Vista, and REACH Be There, a project addressing heart-health and disparities in Southeast San Diego.

Why do you stay involved with the COI?

The goals of the projects I've worked on are similar in scope and purpose to those of COI, particularly in our common pursuit of policy, systems and environmental changes in San Diego County communities. Because of health-inequity issues, not everyone has access to healthy choices. The goals of COI, especially those involving such community partners as schools, business, government and more, are essential to healthy communities, and communicating those goals through key messages and sharing of information is an important part of the process.

What do you love about of your job?

Working with so many varied partners in San Diego County who all share like-minded goals and have so many creative methods of accomplishing those. I'm also excited about the new ways we share information, such as social media and purposeful use of video to tell stories. Storytelling - in this case the art of telling a story through human and community impact - is essential to the future of community health.

What are three words that describe you?

Listener, learner, communicator

What is your favorite place in San Diego?

I was born and grew up here and have seen the county change. I can't name a favorite, so I'll name a few where I've spent countless hours as a kid and an adult: Downtown, Balboa Park, Belmont Park, Qualcomm Stadium, Oceanside Pier, Carlsbad beaches, and my current South Park neighborhood.

What do you do for fun?

I coach Little League baseball. I also collect books with every intention of reading them, but, you know, soon.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Raising my two children, both now teenagers who have remained reasonably normal. Ha.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

I climbed a volcano in Nicaragua alone in a rainstorm, and I can't parallel park even if someone is calmly giving me instructions.




COI Partner Highlight: Introducing Natalie Muth

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP is a dual board-certified pediatrician and obesity medicine physician and registered dietitian. She practices general pediatrics at Children's Primary Care Medical Group where she also leads a healthy weight clinic called the W.E.L.L. Clinic. In addition, she is the Senior Advisor for Healthcare Solutions for the American Council on Exercise and a member of the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Obesity. She is the author of five books including the soon-to-be-released The Picky Eater Project: 6 Weeks to Happier, Healthier Family Mealtimes, authored with Sally Sampson of ChopChop Magazine and published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Muth graduated from UCLA with majors in psychology and physiological sciences with college honors, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a Master of Public Health in nutrition at University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill completing her master thesis on childhood obesity screening in schools based on her work at the CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine where she was awarded the Davis Pediatric Student Scholar, recognition given to the most promising medical student planning to specialize in pediatrics. She completed her training in pediatrics at UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital in the Community Health and Advocacy Training track.

Title: Pediatrician, COI Private Sector Co-Chair

When did you know that you wanted to become a physician?

As a college student I became extremely interested in human health, nutrition, exercise, and the incredible privilege and opportunity that medicine offers to be able to make a positive impact on people's lives and health.

How did you become involved in the COI?

I first learned about the COI several years ago. A cutting edge, multi-sector initiative, its mission to optimize kids' health through collaboration and community-level changes inspired me and I couldn't wait to be involved. In 2012, I joined the healthcare and media domains. In 2015 I was thrilled when the opportunity to serve as co-chair opened up and that my medical group, Children's Primary Care Medical Group, supported me in serving in this capacity. I'm grateful to be involved with the COI and the exciting work of helping the County of San Diego be the healthiest place to raise kids by pushing an agenda to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Why do you stay involved with the COI?

The COI is a great model of collective impact and how working together across domains can help to achieve our shared mission of preventing and reducing childhood obesity and improving kids' health. I am committed to helping all children have the opportunity to eat healthfully, be active, and thrive. I think that the COI is a powerful entity which helps us to make that ideal possible for more kids.

What do you love about of your job?

My favorite part of being a pediatrician is getting to know the kids and families that come to my office. I love watching them grow and develop and I also like serving as kind of a coach for parents who are on this most incredible adventure of parenting. I love that as part of the COI I can advocate for changes that will positively impact my patients in the communities where they live, learn, and play.

What are three words that describe you?

Passionate, Persistent, Caring

What is your favorite place in San Diego?

Moonlight Beach in Encinitas

What do you do for fun?

Hang out with my kids and husband doing anything active.

Travel. We especially love National Parks.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

I am most proud of my two kids. I love being their mom and all of the fun (and challenges) that come along with that.

What are your three greatest passions?

I am passionate about promoting (and practicing) health through nutrition, physical activity, and healthful behavior changes in fun, innovative, and (hopefully effective) ways. My mission is to help create and support environments that make the healthy choice the easy (and fun!) choice.

I am passionate about pursuing new adventures and experiences with my family and learning new lessons from each of them along the way.

I am passionate about pediatrics and the incredible and rewarding privilege it offers me to help kids (and their families) thrive.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?

As a kid I really struggled to eat healthfully and be active and was affected by childhood obesity. I had a few turning points, but the most significant one was when my mom and I hiked down and out of the Grand Canyon when I was a junior in high school. We weren't sure if we could do it, but at the end of the day, we made it! It was from that experience that I was convinced of the power of prevention, especially physical activity and nutrition, to optimize physical and mental health.

Good Food at Work, School, and Play: Healthy and Sustainable Vending Forum

Did you know that more than 100 million Americans use vending machines each day? As businesses, schools, and the individuals throughout the nation deal with a chronic disease epidemic, many are beginning to take their snacks seriously, including those in vending machines.

In 2016, the top five consumer food trends are simple foods with transparent labels, free for all foods (e.g., gluten-free, wheat-free, etc.), vegetarian options or more animal-friendly products, less processed foods, and products with vegetables incorporated into the recipe. In an effort to make the healthy choice the easy choice, and provide people more of the foods they want, the County of San Diego Public Health Services, UC San Diego School of Medicine, the American Heart Association, and the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative hosted a healthy and sustainable vending forum on Thursday, June 23, 2016.

The purpose of the event was to connect organizations to vendors specializing in healthy, sustainable products; highlighted local best practices; and identified ways organizations could formalize healthy vending as part of their organizational culture through policy.

The event included an all-start cast that inspired change.Aysha Pamukcu, Staff Attorney for ChangeLab Solutions made the case that healthy vending policies and nutrition standards can help reduce the health and economic impacts of obesity-the cost of obesity among full-time employees to employers is approximately $73.1 billion.

Naomi Billups, Public Health Nutrition Manager for the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, and Fabian Cervantes, Human Resources Generalist and Coordinator for Goodwill Industries of San Diego County shared their personal experiences with changing County and organizational policy in nutrition standards at the local level. The County of San Diego revealed that it would soon be updating its policy to go beyond health and promote sustainable products with less packaging waste.

Afterwards, organizations that make this type of vending a reality took to the podium. Representatives from CanteenGrowHealthy On-The-Go Vending, and Daily Harvest Market presented on their product lines and offered samples to guests. Companies were able to provide a wide array of healthier foods from refrigerated to shelf stable, and could even provide organizations that housed the machines a share of the revenue.

If you weren't able to make this event and you want to be part of the movement, don't fret. Resources such as policy examples, tools on the creation of healthy and sustainable vending policies, and a list of healthy vendors are available by contacting JuliAnna Arnett, Food Systems Specialist with the County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency. To see more photos from the event, click here.

COI Highlight: Introducing Cheri Fidler

With a background in education and planning, Cheri was always passionate about supporting children and improving their lives. She began her career at Rady Children's Hospital as a director of Community Health (now the Center for Healthy Communities), and she has been a member of the Rady Children's Hospital team for 28 years. The Center for Healthy Communities uses evidence based practices derived from the community needs assessment, the Children's Report Card and other sources to help promote healthy living for children. Cheri's work involves an array of projects including injury prevention, immunization, tobacco, oral health, nutrition and healthy lifestyles and youth development. When Cheri is not working to improve childhood health she is either practicing yoga, spending time with family, refining her gardening and cooking skills, or practicing holistic health.

How did you become involved with the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative?

I was involved with the COI before it began under the leadership of supervisors Ron Roberts and Pam Slater Price. Rady Children's saw the rise in childhood obesity early on and were ready to help with obesity prevention. I have been involved in Leadership Council, Action Plan Development, and Healthcare Domain since the beginning of COI.

What do you love most about your job?

A lot of things. One of the most significant [aspects] is the ability to do work that helps to benefit kids, which is my strongest passion. I get to work with the most wonderful people who share the same passion and desires, and test out creative approaches to improving community health.

What is your favorite place in San Diego? What do you do for fun?

I love to walk and so my favorite place is along the coast and Mission Trails. I like to walk from South Mission Bay to La Jolla, and have even walked from Oceanside to Solana Beach.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Probably raising kids, and then creating and guiding the Center for Healthier Communities. In 2003, I went back to school to become a holistic health practitioner and try to integrate that profession into the work I do at Rady Children's Hospital.

What are some of your strongest passions?

Family (including dog), work, and self-care (involving yoga and walking).

Where are your favorite places to travel to?

Ireland countryside is beautiful. In the US, it's New England.

If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be?

Energetic, mindful, and people-person.

Become A Partner Subscribe to E-News

    News & Upcoming Events

    See our latest newsletter and the COI calendar for upcoming events.

    facebook-logo Twitter Logo youtube

    Follow our latest work!

    211 San Diego Logo
    211 San Diego
    Physical Activity and Nutrition Database

    A free "one stop shop" for programs and services in nutrition, healthy weight, physical activity, and diabetes.

    Core funding provided in part by:

    Kaiser Permanente County of San Diego

    A project facilitated by:

    California Health Improvement Partners

    San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative
    5095 Murphy Canyon Road, Suite #105, San Diego, CA 92123
    (p)858.609.7964 – (f)858.609.7998