Annual program brings community health leaders to campus to hone skills

Participants in the 2019 Leaders in Health program
Participants in the 2019 Leaders in Health program

November 18, 2019—A leadership development program for frontline workers at the Boston Public Health Commission and a community hydroponic gardening initiative at Sociedad Latina in Mission Hill were two of the projects recently presented by participants in Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Leaders in Health program. This eight-week course held at the School provides participants from local organizations and agencies with training in public health fundamentals and support to develop projects that will enhance their work.

The program’s capstone presentations and closing ceremony were held November 7 in the School’s FXB building.

Leaders in Health is led by Rebekka Lee, research scientist in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Ra’Shaun Nalls, director of community engagement. This year, they were assisted by Harvard Chan students Hae In Kim, Sitara Mahtani, and Urvashi Pandya.

Participants study public health topics including community-based participatory research, program planning, evaluation, and health equity. The second half of the course is spent developing their applied projects.

Anissa Ray of the Boston Public Health Commission presents her capstone project
Anissa Ray of the Boston Public Health Commission presents her capstone project

At the capstone event, Nalls said that he was “blown away” by the participants’ engagement during class sessions, and ability to quickly grasp master’s-level material.

Participant Laura Adams, director of senior services at Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, wants to increase her residents’ participation in health and wellness activities. During her presentation, she said, “I have learned practices that I will use right away in my work.”

Other capstone projects included launching a new wellness peer education program at Roxbury Prep High School; improving communications at the Commonwealth Care Alliance around how health outreach workers share information about patients and around how clients’ housing needs are captured; and addressing the needs of trauma victims through art therapy and other services.

Throughout the presentations the participants, who are at varying stages in their careers, offered each other support and promised assistance with implementing projects. One said to the group, “I consider you all co-workers now.”

Amy Roeder

Photos: Osa Igiede