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Melissa Dilley, 2020 Women of the Year

Director of Health Programs, Workforce Development

College of Western Idaho


Melissa Dilley, 2020 Women of the Year honoree.

At the intersection of public health and workforce training, you’ll find Melissa Dilley. After a decade of community health leadership in Idaho and Oregon, she joined the College of Western Idaho (CWI) last year to direct its allied health training programs.

The programs include nursing assistant, pharmacy technician, medical coding specialist, emergency medical technician and medication assistant. In all, it prepares 6,000 students for patient care on a $1.5 million budget.

“Melissa is committed to CWI and the betterment of the healthcare system and allied health training for the community,” wrote her supervisor, Christine Rood Gilchrist, in a letter of recommendation. “She is dedicated to building clinical and community partnerships and ultimately improving the lives of Idahoans.”

Building a skilled and competent workforce is a natural extension of Dilley’s longstanding commitment to addressing health disparities. She works to address large-scale issues that burden the health of our communities, not just individual health issues. It takes strategic community partnerships to create such change, she believes.

“For all community members to have the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible, this work cannot be done in a silo,” Dilley said. “Addressing key social determinants of health and connecting diverse groups of people to one another — this is the essential step to empowering one another to take action.”

Colleague and friend Jaime Aanensen, a division health administrator with Southwest District Health, watched Dilley become a trusted mentor.

While employed at Central District Health in Boise as a senior health education and quality improvement specialist and later as the manager for the Statewide Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP), Dilley worked with health centers to become certified as patient-centered medical homes.

After completing a master’s degree in health science at Boise State in 2009, she coordinated the Idaho Community HealthCorps at Idaho State University. Then, she moved to Portland for positions with Providence Health and Services, a five-state hospital system. Returning to Idaho in 2016, Dilley chaired or co-chaired several boards, including the Diabetes and Hypertension Coalition, Community Health Coalition and Idaho Behavioral Health Network for Central District Health.

Click on the cover to view the digital edition of the 2020 Women of the Year publication.

Dilley is active as either a volunteer member or board officer for the Diabetes Alliance of Idaho, Idaho Public Health Association, Healthy Living Center at the Treasure Valley YMCA and the Terraces of Boise, a senior living community. In 2018, her efforts resulted in a $200,000 Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Planning Grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A true champion for both health promotion and workforce development, Dilley is a certified health education specialist and chronic care professional and a Northwest Public Health Institute scholar.

Tenacious, ambitious and kind-hearted, she’s a strong, genuine leader who doesn’t fall short when times are tough.

About Mary Ann Reuter