We are Better Together

We are a group of residents who are working together to improve the mental health, health, and well-being of all residents of Nacogdoches County. We are all members of the community, including city, county and school officials; public safety; business leaders; and health and human services organizations. We are committed to a process that welcomes, includes, and listens to all members of the community. To accomplish this, we need individuals from all communities in Nacogdoches County. We need you.

Our Appreciative Inquiry Team

We have established an Appreciative Inquiry Team, which consists of the project staff, partners, and key community stakeholders who have lived experience and/or knowledge of the issues (e.g., consumers, residents, community leaders, and agency representatives). The project staff and partners work to ensure that the composition of the Appreciative Inquiry Team is representative of Nacogdoches County and includes representatives from groups who are typically excluded from the decision-making processes. The Appreciative Inquiry Team actively works together to:

  • build partnerships amongst all stakeholders;
  • develop protocols and instruments to collect information/data;
  • identify priorities for sustainable change;
  • develop specific metrics and shared measurement systems to measure change based on our priorities;
  • validate findings of the appreciative inquiry through ongoing conversations with participants; and 
  • develop strategies to create change based on the findings.

These activities are based on reflection, seeking answers and solutions, and validating information.

Our Partners

Our partners are as follows:

  • Burke
  • Rural East Texas Health Network
  • Greater East Texas Community Action Program
  • Concerned Black Men of Nacogdoches
  • Nacogdoches Independent School District
  • Interdenominational Ministers’ Alliance
  • Nacogdoches Ministerial Alliance
  • Resilient Nacogdoches
  • Nacogdoches Progressive Leadership Group
  • Nacogdoches Area United Way
  • Brown Family Health Center
  • East Texas Community Health Services
  • Community Arts Center of East Texas
  • Kyle Childress
  • Jim Lemon
  • Jane Childress
  • James Montoya

Our Staff

H. Stephen Cooper, MSW, PhD, LCSW, Project Director – Dr. Cooper is a Professor of Social Work and Associate Director of Research in the School of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University.  His responsibilities include serving as Project Director and Principal Investigator for Better Together.  Dr. Cooper can be reached at (936) 468-2845 or scooper@sfasu.edu.

Chloe Sledge, BSW, Project Coordinator – Ms. Sledge is a graduate of BSW program at SFASU and serves as Better Together’s Project Coordinator.  Ms. Sledge can be reached at (936) 468-2228 or Chloe.Sledge@sfasu.edu.

Emmerentie Oliphant, MSW, D Litt et Phil, Co-Principal Investigator – Dr. Oliphant is a Professor of Social Work, Director of the MSW Program at Stephen F. Austin State University, and the Buddy Zeagler Endowed Professor for Community-Based Research.  She is involved with Better Together as the Co-Principal Investigator.

For more information about Better Together, please contact either Steve Cooper, Project Director at scooper@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2845 or Chloe Sledge, Project Coordinator at Chloe.Sledge@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2228. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.