Strengthening Social Connectedness in Rural Communities

July 27, 2022 | 12 pm MT | A Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar

Rural communities face unique challenges in the coming decades: sluggish internet access, increasingly limited social resources and access to healthcare specialists, to name a few. As a result of these and many other factors, rural communities face high levels of isolation, loneliness, and mental health struggles – which is expected to rise as these issues become further exacerbated.

In our next webinar we are gathering leaders in research and practice to discuss this important issue from numerous perspectives. Our goal is to bring together the best in the field to share best practices and facilitate a discussion that provides a better understanding of both the problem and potential solutions.

Through this webinar and our series on social connectedness, we hope to build a community of leaders across industries and sectors committed to strengthening social ties. Learn more about our series below, and save your spot for this webinar on the right. If you cannot attend on July 27 sign up anyway and we will share an on-demand recording you can watch later.

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Meet our Webinar Speakers

Katherine (Kathy) James PhD, MSPH, MSCE

Associate Professor, Center for Health, Work & Environment, Colorado School of Public Health

Dr. James is an epidemiologist and engineer who specializes in environmental and climate risk factors and health in vulnerable populations. She has experience in leading and conducting community-based research projects including NIEHS funded studies investigating exposure to metals (arsenic and cadmium) and cardiometabolic and kidney diseases. Dr. James is currently leading three community-based studies investigating the impacts of long-term drought on a rural community including access to water resources, the impacts on agriculture workers and mental health, and water quality and exposures to pregnant women and children. Dr. James is also the PI for The Attitudes and Behaviors Study a repeated population-based survey of tobacco and marijuana use and other public health issues.

John Kennedy

Senior Project Manager, Rural Connectivity Lead, Colorado Office of Ehealth Innovation

As one of OeHI's Senior Project Managers, John's work is focused on Rural Connectivity. He joins OeHI with a background as a HITECH Project Manager with HealthCare Policy and Finance's EPMO and brings that expertise to bear on the HIE infrastructure and Rural connectivity. John is passionate about making healthcare available for all Coloradans and bolstering our data infrastructure making it easier for members in rural areas to receive medicaid services. John has spent many years in various roles in the Military, Private Sector, and State Government serving the public. Fun Fact: John has a degree in Korean linguistics and spent a portion of his life interrogating and interpreting for the U.S Army.

Miko Pickett

Executive Director, Pick 42 Foundation

Miko Pickett is the Executive Director of Pick 42 Foundation where she works to meet the needs of community members dealing with food insecurity, overlooked farmers of color, assisting with disaster recovery and other community focused programs. In 2019, Miko retired from a successful 30 career in Corporate America to fully embrace her work in the community. Miko currently serves as the vice-chair on the SC Food Policy Council Board of Director. Miko loves her family and has been married to her husband Dominic Cathcart Pickett, Sr. for 34 years, they have 4 children, 2 daughter-in-laws and 3 grandchildren. She and her husband also run a few small businesses. She enjoys southern living, travelling, line dancing and music.

Dr. Danielle Varda

CEO & Founder, Visible Network Labs

Dr. Danielle Varda is a network scientist, startup founder, technologist, and mother of three spirited girls. After getting her start at the RAND Corporation she started the Center on Network Science at CU Denver before founding Visible Network Labs in 2017. There she worked to create PARTNER, a social network analysis platform specifically designed for use by practitioners in the field to improve the way they collaborate. She is a regular speaker, trainer, and panelist on the topic of social connectedness, network leadership, and science in Colorado and across the United States. Dr. Varda also serves as an elected Jefferson County School Board Member, a member of the National Americorps Advisory Board, and an Associate Professor at the CU Denver School of Public Affairs.

Meet your Webinar Host:

Visible Network Labs is a technology and service startup that uses network science to map and visualize the relationships and systems that impact health and well-being to strengthen social connectedness and collaboration. We host annual webinars on topics like network science, leadership, and social connectedness to share our research and insight with those who are using it to make the world a better place.

Curious about partnering with us? Click here to connect with us and learn more.

Learn more about our Strengthening Social Connectedness Webinar Series:

Every month at VNL, we dig into a unique aspect of social connectedness and how it impacts health and well-being across a variety of populations and issues. We’ll share new research on each subject, invite special guest experts to share diverse perspectives, and focus on creating helpful, actionable insights for those trying to strengthen our quality of life in Colorado, the United States, and across the world. Learn more about all our webinars on the Webinar Series homepage.