HISTORY OF AlPHA, INC.
In April 1924, the state health officer, county health officers, nurses, and sanitation officers met in Birmingham. This is the first record of these professionals meeting together in Alabama to discuss public health issues. From 1924 to 1937, there were periodic state meetings primarily for health officers. By 1937, other disciplines were invited to participate in a state meeting of public health employees. In 1942, 400 health workers met in the Blue-Gray Room of the Whitley Hotel in Montgomery. Dr. B. F. Austin, State Health Officer, presided. This was the first time that the term “Public Health Workers Conference” was used officially. All public health disciplines were represented. Rules and procedures were outlined for conducting this conference in the future.
The Public Health Workers Conference continued intermittently during the 1940s. Starting in the late 1940s, the meetings were held annually. During the 1950s, many discussions at these meetings concerned having other health agencies, both voluntary and official, participate in the statewide meeting. It was decided that the Public Health Workers Conference would hold its annual meeting in conjunction with a new association, the Alabama Public Health Association (AlPHA), made up of representatives of all health workers. The first AlPHA/Alabama Public Health Workers Conference meeting was held on March 14 and 15, 1957, in the Thomas Jefferson Hotel in Birmingham. Dr. D. G. Gill, State Health Officer, called the meeting to order and officiated the public session. In 1957, AlPHA Bylaws and Procedures were adopted. The bylaws were written to give structure to the association, to delineate the powers of the executive board, and to describe the basic responsibilities of the officers. The first procedural manual was developed by a committee appointed by the President of AlPHA.
Membership of the association increased to approximately 1,200 by the mid-1960s. In the early years of its organization, the Executive Board of AlPHA considered affiliating with the Southern Branch of the American Public Health Association (APHA). On March 25, 1960, Dr. Otis Gay, Health Officer, Madison County Health Department, described a plan of the Southern Branch of APHA to give blanket membership to members of AlPHA in exchange for a lump-sum subscription. Two hundred dollars was suggested to the Branch Association by AlPHA. The Southern Branch Office was established in Birmingham.
In 1968, it was decided that a new procedural manual would benefit the newly-elected officers. The new manual was compiled in 1968 by a committee composed of Helen Wylie, Chairperson, Forest Ludden, L. W. Grogan, P. J. O’Neill, Willie Kate Hufham and Maggie Ellen King.
At the Southern Branch meeting in 1971, a new dues structure was established. Each person in the association was assessed for membership in the Southern Branch of APHA.
Beginning with the 1973-74 administration, the Office of Secretary-Treasurer was separated and made into two offices. Elizabeth Hale was elected Secretary. Fred Sims was elected Treasurer.
Several important issues were considered by the 1981-1982 Executive Board with relevant changes being made during the 1982-83 administration. Following several years of increasing divergence in the philosophies espoused by the APHA and the southern public health associations, an AlPHA study committee recommended disaffiliation with APHA. In 1981, Southern Branch-APHA was disfranchised. Concomitantly, the committee recommended that affiliation with the newly-chartered Southern Health Association (SHA) would give AlPHA a strong voice, not only for its organizational objectives, but for the general practice of public health as well. AlPHA’s separation from APHA and association with SHA became effective in 1983. Another important change occurred in 1983: dissolution of the Medical Care and Health Planning Sections because of declining section membership.
In 1986, Dr. Ira. L. Myers, State Health Officer for 23 years, was honored with a retirement banquet. Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the developer of oral live virus polio vaccine, and Dr. C. Everett Koop, U. S. Surgeon General, were in attendance. In 1986 the business meeting, the membership approved the recommendation of the Executive Board to incorporate the association as a nonprofit organization. In the closing general session, Dr. Claude Earl Fox was introduced as the incoming State Health Officer.
In February 1993, payroll deduction for membership dues was made available to AlPHA members. The members of the Bylaws Committee also integrated the components of the bylaws and procedural manual to create a unified document. In the new document, related bylaws and procedures are located in close proximity for quick and easy reference. Two new sections were formulated due to the increasing needs and size of the membership. These are the Minority Health and the Health Care Assistant Sections. 11
The official title of the annual meeting was changed from Annual Conference to Annual Health Education Conference in 1996, to provide educational opportunities for diversified health professions.
In 1994, the Dean of the School of Public Health at UAB was added to the Executive Board as an ex-officio officer.
In 1997, bylaws additions were made to incorporate specific duties and functions of the Executive Director of AlPHA. These are addressed in Article XV.
Today, AlPHA is an affiliate of APHA. APHA is the national voice of public health and champions the health of all people and all communities. They strengthen the profession of public health; share the latest research and information, promote best practices and advocate for public health issues and policies grounded in research. APHA is the only organization that combines a 140-plus year perspective, the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health and a member community from all public health disciplines and over 40 countries. APHA publishes the American Journal of Public Health and The Nation’s Health, convenes an Annual Meeting and Exposition where thousands of participants share the latest public health research and leads public awareness campaigns such as Get Ready and National Public Health Week. Learn more at www.apha.org.