United Way’s new Senior Director Health Community Development

By Regina Arnold

Terri Janison, the new senior director of health and community development at United Way, has been a child advocate for 25 years, or “as long as I can remember.” Her work first began in Jackson, Miss. where she was the executive director of the Caring Program for Children. “We provided health insurance for the working poor (and for) those who did not qualify for Medicaid but did not make enough money to buy health insurance for their children,” she explained.

When Janison moved to Las Vegas in 1994, she was looking to narrow her volunteer work to women and children, and she found Shade Tree to be a perfect match so she joined its board. Janison was also focused on health and nutrition issues, and the more she learned about the community, the more that focus began to grow. She also became involved with Court Appointed Special Advocate and then was elected to be on the Clark County School Board of Trustees, which she describes as the hardest but most rewarding volunteer work she has ever done.

In Janison’s role as senior director community development for the Health Impact Council, she is committed to increasing the number of youth and adults who are healthy and have access to comprehensive healthcare in Southern Nevada. “United Way is currently focused on three issues the community has identified as high need: health, education and financial stability. The three work so closely together because if you are not healthy, you cannot learn, and if you are not financially stable you may not be able to provide the proper health care and education for your family,” she said. Her volunteer council oversees the work done through school-based health clinics and other nonprofits providing health care for the uninsured and underinsured.

United Way is working hard to reach out to families and children in need and make them aware of these programs. “With the record number of students enrolled in the Clark County School District this year, I would guess we will find more families who may not know of the services available. We will work closely with all involved to reach as many of these people as possible,” Janison said.

Using a research study completed by the Southern Nevada Health District in cooperation with the CCSD, United Way has been able to identify zip codes that have a high rate of children not receiving immunizations on time. With the help of school-based health clinics and 100 Black Men of Las Vegas, they will be walking the neighborhoods knocking on doors with information on the importance of shots.

“We work with our partner agencies attending health and wellness fairs back to school events and, of course, provide information through our 22 early childhood centers we partner with from the education area.” Janison said.

United Way plans to increase access to healthcare for children by choosing partners in the highest areas of need, trying not to duplicate efforts in any region. Working with these partners and the CCSD, United Way’s goal is to help these children and families find a medical home. “Studies have shown over and over the link to health and education. Healthy children are better prepared to learn and succeed in life,” Janison said.

Janison is also involved with Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada; CASA Foundation; Keeping Kids Fit and the American Graduate Project, both through Vegas PBS; Hope for Prisoners; and the Clark County School District.