Bernalillo County: Partnering to Scale and Spread Change

This story was originally published through 100 Million Healthier Lives and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

Our partnership consists of a community coalition (International District Health Communities Coalition), a statewide coalition (New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils), state health officials (New Mexico Department of Health), and a healthcare system (Presbyterian Healthcare Services). We embrace moving from Me to We - denying scarcity, embracing abundance. Our vision is to improve the health of community members where they have the opportunity to thrive. 

"Moving from Me to We – Denying Scarcity, Embracing Abundance"

Community Champion

Bernadette Hardy

Bernalillo Community Champion, SCALE-up Community Champion Coach

"We take on so much because we want our community to get better." - Bernadette Hardy

Bernadette co-leading a gardening workshop in the International District at First Nations- All Nations Wellness and Healing Center's raised garden beds.

Bernadette Hardy is the definition of a Community Champion. A long-time resident of the International District here in Albuquerque, she exemplifies what it means to--as Gloria Anzaldúa said--“do work that matters”.

Born in Albuquerque to Lougardita Valencia and Richard Hardy and raised on her grandfather Felipe Valencia’s small farm in the North Valley, Berna or Bernie as most of her friends lovingly call her has dedicated much of her adult life to fiercely advocating for her community.

A graduate of Albuquerque High and UNM--many of you that know Berna, know she wears many--MANY hats. She is one of the Coordinators for the International District Healthy Communities Coalitions (IDHCC), a member of Sunflowers for change, an active participant in the Trumbull Village and South San Pedro neighborhood association, a mentor coordinator for MATCH NM, a FAFSA statewide coordinator, a board member of La Cosecha CSA’s advisory board, a lead team member of Healthy Here Mobile Farmers’ market, the heart and soul of the Light the District project, a proud momma, sister, friend, and neighbor to South San Pedro residents. Berna approaches her work as she approaches her life--fully, deeply, and wholeheartedly. It’s hard to make a distinction of what is part of her jobs and things she volunteers for because all are interconnected. When IDHCC first discussed the idea of how to increase residents’ active living in the ID community--an idea sprung up about installing solar-powered lights. This idea was inspired from Ohio-Buckeye HEAL that SCALE members learned about at a National CHILA . Within a week, Berna had purchased wooden light poles, concrete, paint, and a solar light from Costco with money from her pocket and from ID residents’ pockets. There was no question of who would go and install it--Berna recruited her brother and Juan Cardiel and off they went to dig a hole and install a light in the neighborhood.

"Berna does not wait for any bureaucracy to hold up her desire to serve her community, Berna commits to something and you will expect a result. At this point, she has already installed around 24 lights in the International District, and there will be no stopping there--if it was up to Berna, there would be lights on every corner in the ID so that everyone in the community could feel more comfortable with engaging with each other." - SCALE colleague

"Bernadette was on fire today at the IDHCC meeting today she co-facilitates with Reynaluz Juarez. Bernadette stood up greeted everyone, had them sign in and explained the process before the meeting started. Encouraged everyone to participate. She was just on fire! " - SCALE colleague

Our SCALE Journey

During the first phase of SCALE, our Healthy Here initiative was awarded the CDC Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant. The target population for the grant was Hispanic and Native Americans living in the South Valley and International District (ID) in Albuquerque, NM. Three priorities areas were identified; Healthy Eating, Active Living, and Clinical & Community Linkages. As part of Active Living, community members stated that walking in the ID brought up safety concerns because there is two dangerous intersection, no lighting and the sidewalks were not accessible to everyone. The walking groups turned into assessment walks with the community. Bernadette and Enrique attended a National CHILA and connected with Buckeye HEAL. Buckeye community was starting a lighting project but ran into some issues with the city. Bernadette and Enrique brought this idea back to the ID. Soon after meeting, residents start installing solar powered lights on private property to light the ID. Action labs and walking assessments helped Light the District thrive. 

Bernalillo County Community Health Council handed SCALE management to Presbyterian Center for Community Health due to capacity issues. The pass of hands was a milestone because it shifted the work to SCALE-up. NM Department of Health and NM Alliance of Health Councils were brought on board to SCALE the work with metro area health councils. In order to move forward, our team needed to work together to create a vision and aim that was reflective of the work we were already doing.  At our Regional CHILA 2 we recognized 7 community champions who are doing wonderful work to help their community. They received a certificate and $500 gift cards for their work in their community. We hoped that this would reignite a fire or help them continue with the work that they are doing. All 7 health councils agreed to be part of our SCALE-up journey. Each SCALE-up community was awarded $2,000 to help with their project funds and reporting . Our CHILA 2 was a success because we were able to get a jump start on our Action Lab planing by incorporating Community Asset Mapping as part of our agenda. We encountered difficulties in working with health council to get them their funding. We were able to get all the health councils their money but it took longer than we had hoped for. We are currently in the process of our CHILA 3- Action Lab. We decided that every SCALE-up community was unique and that we needed to have separate action labs in their community so community members could participate. We have completed 6 out of 7 action labs as of 3/8/19. We will have completed all 7 of our Action Labs by 4/28/19.

Aim and Vision

Improve the health of community members to live in an environment where they have the opportunity to thrive.


City of Albuquerque

In our driver diagram we stated the importance of state, local and federal policies need to exists to support the infrastructure to improve the health of communities in New Mexico. It is vital for the sustainability of the state's county and tribal health councils. The newly elected City of Albuquerque Mayor, Tim Keller, has always been embedded in community initiatives. He has played a key role in partnering with IDHCC prior to being elected as Mayor. Tim Keller continues to support community driven work and the community looks forward to how he can play a role in a higher position. 

Michelle Melendez has also been part of our SCALE 1.0 journey and now serves as the Director of the Office of Equity & Inclusion, previously known as the Office of Diversity and Human Rights.

NM Senate Memorial 44

In our driver diagram we stated the importance of state, local and federal policies that need to exist to support the infrastructure to improve the health of communities in New Mexico. It is vital for the sustainability of the state's county and tribal health councils. 

Click to view Press Release from the New Mexico Alliance of Health Councils.

Scaling up Communities


Pueblo of Acoma Community Health Alliance is focusing on health issues and priorities based on their community health assessment and input. They chose to SCALE-up their Change 4 Life program that focuses on youth physical activity, nutrition and cultural bonding factors.


Bernalillo Community County Health Council chose to deepen their work on Violence Prevention. Funding was used to help host their Community-Centered Action to Prevent Violence Summit on November 16, 2018. 


Cochiti Tribal Health Council is focusing on building positive leadership development with their tribal leaders. Cochiti has stated that their tribal leaders often face challenges that could affect long term outcomes for their community. The Pueblo political structure is elective and involves a governor and lieutenant governor. 


Sandoval County Health Council is scaling up their 10 x 10 booklets. The booklet is currently only in Sandoval county and geared towards children up to third grade. Using SCALE tools, they hope to SCALE-up to children in fifth grade and share their template with surrounding communities.


To'hajiilee Tribal Health Council has chosen to work on conducting a Community Health Assessment for their adults and youth. Through their Equity Action Lab they realized that there is work that needs to be prioritized with their youth and elders before they can complete their assessment.


Partnership for a Healthy Torrance Community is using their SCALE tools and funding to help SCALE-up their walking trails in Moriarity, NM. 


Community Wellness Council identified the need to focus on child well-being. Below is an image of a handout from their Equity Action Lab. Click here for more data collected by Community Wellness Council.

Click to view Action Lab Fact Sheet- Kids at Hope


Regional CHILA 1

Our SCALE-up CHILA 1 was held at Second Presbyterian Church March 5, 2018. This was an introduction to Community of Solution skills that we thought would benefit health councils. Our agenda included an introduction to the 100 Million Healthier Lives and tools that health councils could benefit from- Habits of the Hearts, Leading from Within, Leading for Outcomes. We also did an activity on story telling and showcased a bright spot on Light the District. The second half of the meeting was New Mexico Alliance for Health Councils regular health council meeting that included legislative updates and collaboration.

Regional CHILA 2

SCALE-up CHILA 2 was the official on-boarding meeting for the metro area health councils. Prior to CHILA 2 we set up a meeting with health council decision makers so that they could help us draft an MOU and also encourage them to bring community members to the CHILA. Our agenda included a health council convening and Senate Memorial 44 updates. Our agenda incorporated the following Community of Solution Skills: Leading from Within, Leading Together, Leading for Outcomes, and Leading for Equity. 

Equity Action Lab

An Equity Action Lab was held at each of our SCALE-up communities to encourage a diverse group of community stakeholders to set goals they can achieve within 100 days. Here are few examples of how the Equity Action Lab process helped re-center equity and bring folks to consensus to address systematic inequities and racism.

The Bernalillo County Action Lab helped focus the desire of the working group to formalize the inherent commitment to address violence by addressing racism and systemic inequities. The action lab process helped the coalition name and put into words their vision, big dot aim(s) and plan out actions to increase relationships and coordination with new partners and partner coalitions working addressing racism and equity identified during asset mapping. Bernalillo’s Vision wording went from:

  1. “To address the distribution of power and resources in a way that creates peaceful communities” to a more explicit version.
  2. "To end the white supremacy and heteropatriarchy that creates a foundation for violence." All agreed on a final and third option that incorporated these sentiments without resorting to specific words that were felt to be at counter purposes to the vision like "empowerment” and that folks felt were positive and accessible to many across sectors.
  3. “Improve the capacity of community members to create peaceful environments where we have the opportunity to thrive”. These came out of a brainstorm that included a look at poverty, classism and neighborhood economic segregation, racism and colonialism, individual and community autonomy, claiming power to change, and addressing root causes.

In Sandoval County, through asset mapping and action planning the group refocused priority on several of the more rural and some tribal communities. New resources and resourcefulness was discovered and valued to help the core group re-dedicate actions and ongoing resources in those places intentionally instead of falling back on the “easiest path” forward which relies on false mental models that suburban centers have less resistance and more resources to scale existing programming.

Equity action labs in the tribal communities were still facilitated by outsiders but community and coalition champions and leaders with native identities volunteered to facilitate the action labs. Action labs were flexible and responsive to the norms and needs of each community, there was effort and intention that nothing be imposed, and that as outsiders we expressed our gratitude for the welcome into the inner workings of the community. The fact that we were invited to conduct equity action labs and invited back is a testament to the collaborative process and ability to build and keep trust.

Acoma Equity Action Lab

Bernalillo County Community Health Council Equity Action Lab

Sandoval County Health Council Equity Action Lab

To'hajiilee Tribal Health Council Equity Action Lab

Partnership for a Healthy Torrance Community Equity Action Lab

Valencia Community Wellness Council Equity Action Lab

Meaningful Measurements from our SCALE-up Communities




As part of the Equity Action Lab, community members utilized the web (link below) to help breakdown where each asset went into the matrix. As part of their Meaningful Measurement, they will have added additional assets identified during the session.

Click to view the asset web


Click to view the Torrance Journey Story


Valencia Journey Map

What's next?

Our SCALE community's growth has flourished through SCALE 1.0 and SCALE 2.0. We will continue to embed Community of Solution skills into our everyday work to catalyze transformational change in our community and SCALE-communities. As we end our SCALE 2.0 journey we are planning a celebratory CHILA 4 that will take place June 2019 to showcase each SCALE-up community's SCALE journey.

Working with new communities and building trusting relationships has led us to deepen our connection and capacity with existing and new partners. Our partnership will continue to build and strengthen our health council network so that there is a strong relationship and commitment that will help continue this work.