Community Health Network Area (CHNA) 15 is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, hospitals, service agencies, schools, businesses, boards of health, non-profit organizations and citizens working together to improve the health of member communities. We provide assessment planning to inform, program and fund community-based prevention and health promotion initiatives.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) established CHNAs in 1992. Today there are 27 CHNAs encompassing 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.

CHNA 15 is one of the 27 Community Health Network Areas across Massachusetts. Our 12 partner communities include: Acton, Bedford, Boxborough, Burlington, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn.


We pledge ourselves to working together to build healthier communities through community-based prevention planning and health promotion.

To further its mission CHNA 15 will work together to:

  • Build and maintain the CHNA participation, ensuring that it is representative of the diverse organizations and individuals within the 12 communities;
  • Create opportunities for networking between public and private health providers, including individuals;
  • Educate and raise awareness about health issues, focusing on effective program models and best practices;
  • Assess current services offered in the 12 towns, including assets and gaps; and
  • Develop, implement, and evaluate initiatives, events, and projects that address areas of common interest to the CHNA 15 members.


We envision that each and every community will be a safe and supportive environment that empowers community members to develop self-esteem and personal responsibility to make positive and healthy life choices.

The Healthy Community Approach

Healthy Communities is an approach to understanding and improving health and well-being that is built on decades of work and thinking of individuals and organizations around the world.

What is a Healthy Community?

A Healthy Community is where people come together to make their community better for themselves, their family, their friends, their neighbors, and others. A Healthy Community creates ongoing dialogue, generates leadership opportunities for all, embraces diversity, connects people and resources, fosters a sense of community, and shapes its future. In a Healthy Communities context, health is not merely access to healthcare and the absence of disease, but strengthening positive social, mental, physical, economic, and environmental conditions.

The Healthy Communities Process?

The Healthy Communities process facilitates new collaborations and brings together a variety of community members to identify a shared vision for the community. Together they create and implement a plan to improve community health and well-being. This process is shaped by the people who participate, by the needs that they identify and by the resources available in the community. Thus, Healthy Communities processes look different in every community despite following similar steps.

Key components of Healthy Communities work:

  • Collaboration
  • Community Ownership
  • Inclusive / Broad Based
  • Benchmark & Measure Outcomes
  • Long Term Commitment
  • Continuous Learning
  • Positive Motivation

What are the Healthy Community principles?

CHNA 15 activities are guided by the following Healthy Communities principles which are key to enriching the work within communities.

A broad definition of "health."
Defining health broadly to include the full range of quality of life issues. It recognizes that most of what creates health is lifestyle and behavior related. Other major factors are genetic endowment and the socio-economic, cultural, and physical environment.

A broad definition of "community."
Using a broad definition of what makes up a community, individuals and partnerships can address their shared issues in the most fruitful way possible.

Shared vision from community values.
A community's vision is the story of its desired future. A community's vision reflects the core values of its diverse members.

Quality of life for everyone.
Striving to ensure that the basic emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of everyone in the community are attended to.

Diverse citizen participation and ownership.
All people taking active and ongoing responsibility for themselves, their families, their property, and their community. A leader's work is to find common ground among participants, so that everyone is empowered to take direct action for health and influence community directions.

Focus on "systems change."
Looking at how community services are delivered, how information is shared, how local government operates, and how business is conducted.

Build capacity using local assets and resources.
Starting from existing community strengths and successes and investing in the enhancement of a community's "civic infrastructure."

Benchmark and measure progress and outcomes.
Using performance measures and community indicators to help expand the flow of information and accountability to all citizens, as well as to reveal whether residents are heading toward or away from their stated goals. Timely, accurate information is vital to sustaining long-term community improvement.

Youth development.
Recruiting and engaging youth to be full partners in community-based efforts.

Source: Darvin Ayre, Gruffie Clough, and Tyler Norris, Principals, Community Initiatives, LLC (2006).

Operating Principles

To ensure a consistent group effort, CHNA 15 adopted its Operating Principles on September 14, 2005. Operating principles are reviewed and approved by membership every three years.

Steering Committee

Governance of CHNA 15 is conducted through a Steering Committee which sets the program of the CHNA. The Steering Committee is vested with administrative oversight of the organization, dispersal of funds, establishment of all contractual arrangements for the organization, and oversight of the Coordinator and the Fiscal Sponsor. Steering Committee members are elected by the membership for terms of two years.

  • David Crowley, Co-Chair: President, Social Capital, Inc. 
  • Susan Rask, Vice Chair: Board of Health Director, Concord Health Department
  • Michelle Snyder, Vice Chair: Community Relations Manager, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center
  • Dan Pereira, Treasurer: Director, Town of Lincoln, Parks and Recreation Department
  • Christine Shruhan: Executive Director, Burlington Youth and Family Services
  • Deborah Garfield: Director of Clinical Services, Eliot Community Human Services
  • Fran Spayne: MiracleWork
  • Jacquelin Apsler: Executive Director, Domestic Violence Services Network, Inc.
  • Jan Stewart: Consultant
  • Kelsey Magnusen: Communtiy Relations Coordinator, Emerson Hospital
  • Samantha Reif: Wilmington Police Department, Substance Abuse Coordinator
  • Sheryl Ball: Town of Acton Health Director

CHNA 15 Coordinator

The CHNA 15 Coordinator is Randi Epstein. The CHNA 15 Coordinator is a paid employee of the CHNA, under the direction of the Steering Committee. The Coordinator is an ex officio member of the Steering Committee, is the project manager for all CHNA activities, and serves as the liaison to communities. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


CHNA 15 is supported by funding from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Mount Auburn Hospital and Winchester Hospital through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Determination of Need Factor 9 Community Health Initiatives Policies and Procedures. More information on guideline policies and procedures.

Fiscal Sponsor

CHNA 15’s Fiscal Agent is Minuteman Senior Services. The Fiscal Sponsor is responsible for administering all CHNA funds according to contract specifications. The CHNA 15 Steering Committee oversees an annual review process with the Fiscal Sponsor and approves all contracts and amendments.


Resources, trainers and experts hired and shared by CHNA 15 are offered to provide a variety of perspectives, research findings and experience, and are meant to be informational. CHNA 15 and its Steering Committee do not endorse or recommend any specific organizations or services, and encourage members to evaluate resources to ensure that they meet your specific needs.

Annual Report

CHNA 15 releases its Annual Report at the Annual Meeting. View the most recent CHNA 15 Annual Report.

CHNA 15 Members

As stated in the CHNA 15 Operating Principles, “Membership is open to any person interested in furthering and supporting the purposes of the CHNA.” A list of organizations represented at meetings and events during the year is included in the Annual Report.