Meet Community Health Scholars Program alumni, Idethia Shevon Harvey, DrPH…

Dr. Idethia Shevon Harvey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has a BS in Ceramic Engineering from Clemson University, a MPH from Morehouse School of Medicine, and a DrPH in Behavioral and Community Health Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Harvey completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health.

Dr. Harvey investigates the effect of social support and social networks in health behavioral changes among baby boomers and older minority women. In addition, Shevon employed a community-based participatory research approach to examine social determinants of health, focusing on how social justice issues were linked to health behaviors in rural Illinois.

Since starting her position at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Shevon secured both external and internal funding. She is the Principal Investigator of the ’Social Approaches to Healthy Behavior among Older African American and White Women Study,’ a pilot designed to assess the influence of perceived social support and behavioral changes among older African American and white women; the ’Afya Project,’ a civic commitment initiative through UIUC that focuses on the health and well-being of African American women in Champaign County, Illinois; and the ’Girl POWERED’ project, an intervention designed to determine the efficacy of a campus community based intervention using translational research principles to prevent obesity. Dr. Harvey is also the co-PI of the following research grants: The Leisure-based Self-care Practices and Health of African Americans and Whites in Centralia, Illinois and Living Well with Chronic Disease.

Dr. Harvey is a member of the KHSP Thematic Group on Aging. For the past two years, Shevon has been the co-program planner for the Community-Based Public Health Caucus of APHA. For the 2009 program, along with her community co-chair, Plucedia Williams from Healthy African American Families II in Los Angeles, Dr. Harvey organized the review of abstracts and the program schedule. This year 142 abstracts were submitted and reviewed (by community and academic members of the caucus); 63 abstracts were accepted for 9 sessions (6 oral, 1 roundtable, 2 poster).

Says Dr. Harvey, ’As an alumnus from the KHSP, I gained valuable skills and experience applying the principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR) in the field of public health. As an outgrowth of my continuing commitment to CBPR, I am currently working with community-based organizations in rural IL, and campus recreation centers and a free-health clinic in Champaign.’

Meet Kellogg Health Scholars Program alumna, Gina Evans, PhD.

Dr. Gina Evans is an Assistant Professorship (tenure-track) at the Baylor College of Medicine’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Research Center. She holds a Doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Upon completion of her degree she became a Kellogg Health Scholars (KHS) fellow. Her primary reasons for becoming a KHS were to challenge and change the way we currently conduct health disparities research with and in minority communities. Dr. Evans overall research and career goal is to: (1) investigate social determinants that contribute to poor health, (2) design applicable health promotion and self-management interventions and (3) improve minority participation in clinical trials and generate research findings that can assist individuals, and researchers and policy developers in building healthier communities for minority groups. Dr. Evans’ contributed to and completed many research studies during her doctoral and KHSF program. Her early research explored psychosocial factors that impact eating habits among African American women. She expanded upon this research by completing a pilot study exploring the utility of a self-management intervention among ethnic minority stroke patients. She was recently awarded a NIDDK research supplement to examine the “Effects of Social Determinants of Health on Self-Care Activities among Ethnic minorities with Type II Diabetes”. These experiences have led to publications in peer reviewed journals such as Nutrition Education and Behavior, Neurorehabilitation and Training and Education in Professional Psychology as well as manuscripts that are in press and under review. She has also disseminated her research findings through presentations at national conferences such as the American Public Health Association and American Psychological Association. Through her work with the Eliminating Disparities in Clinical Trials (EDICT) initiative she developed educational workshops that encourage researchers in community and academic settings to adopt culturally appropriate policy recommendations in their clinical trial research. Dr. Evans continues to strive to complete quality research projects that provide a lasting effect on individuals, communities and the global society.

When asked what the impact of the Kellogg Health Scholars Program has made to her career, Dr. Evans said “[T]he program has linked me with mentors who have been instrumental in increasing my research skills as well as knowledge of health disparities. Through this mentorship, I have been able to learn more advanced methods of investigating how social determinants of health impact health disparities and health outcomes.” Further, she states that “the rewards of this mentorship can be witnessed with my current NIDDK funded research supplement to investigate the ‘Effects of Social Determinants of Health on Diabetes Self-care among Ethnic Minorities.’ The plan is to use my research findings to impact policy changes in equitable health care, health care reimbursement, and health policy.”

Meet Kellogg Health Scholars Program alumna, Anita Wells, PhD.

Dr. Anita Wells recently joined the graduate and undergraduate faculties at Morgan State University as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology where she serves as Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Psychometrics. She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and completed her clinical internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines VA Hospital. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Wells was a Kellogg Health Scholar in Multidisciplinary Disparities at the School of Community Health and Policy at Morgan. Dr. Wells’ broad areas of research are health disparities, health promotion, and mental health. Her work is geared toward effectively promoting enduring positive health practices (i.e. healthy diet, exercise, and participation in health screenings) in minority populations, improving public understanding of and support for preventive mental health initiatives, and influencing change in health policy. She has conducted community based research with African American populations for 12 years. During her postdoc fellowship, Dr. Wells worked with her mentor at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Janice Bowie, on a study of breast health behaviors and age at first mammogram among African American women from churches in the greater Baltimore area. Dr. Wells’ current research includes a pilot study examining how Black women under the age of 40 make health decisions regarding cancer screening. Her other primary line of research focuses on the impact of trauma and violence on mental health and well-being with an emphasis on U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their family members.

Dr. Wells feels that “Being a part of the KHSP was and continues to be one of the most enriching professional and personal development opportunities I’ve experienced; there is no other program like it. I gained increased understanding of health disparities, health policy, and CBPR; worked with talented researchers across disciplines and across the country, and joined a phenomenal network.” In addition, she said “The KHSP has opened doors for me to a wide array of people and information. I value and appreciate the tremendous energy and encouragement I receive from others in the ‘Kellogg family.'”

Meet Community Health Scholars Program alumni, Michael Royster, MD, MPH

Michael Royster, MD, MPH is the Director, Office of Minority Health and Public Health Policy, Virginia Department of Health. He was a Community Health Scholar from 2000-2002 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a Scholar, Dr. Royster worked with a community-based organization and a coalition of community representatives to develop an initiative to improve the health of African American men in Raleigh, NC. He conducted focus groups and used them as a basis for the issues that they will target. Dr. Royster also worked on the evaluation of a community-based chronic disease prevention project. The evaluation, which continues, will determine changes in behaviors, community capacity, and cultural norms that result from the interventions. As well, he has also conducted an assessment of this community-based organization and its members to develop recommendations that would contribute to improving the organizations functions.

Dr. Royster writes: “In my current position, I’m leading the reorganization of my office to focus our efforts on eliminating health inequities. Our new vision is “Advancing Health Equity for all Virginians.” Our new mission is “to identify health inequities, assess their root causes, and address them by promoting social justice, influencing policy, establishing partnerships, providing resources and educating the public.” My office includes the state offices of minority health, rural health, and primary care. We also address health workforce issues in underserved areas. Our new direction includes a focus on promoting health equity using social justice as the guiding principle. This includes plans to train community partners in social justice and strategies they can use to address inequities (based in the CBPH philosopy), promoting CBPR as an important strategy in understanding and addressing health inequities, advocating for health promoting public policy, and using data more creatively to draw attention to the root causes of health inequities. In a nutshell, the Community Health Scholars Program has had a profound impact on my understanding of health and my commitment to promoting health equity and social justice.”