Leaders in Health

Program Overview

The Leaders in Health (LIH) program strengthens community health initiatives through introductory training in public health research and science. The goal of the Leaders in Health program is to build the capacity of our community partners by providing participants with an introduction to the fundamentals of community-based participatory research (CBPR), program planning, and evaluation. Participants attend interactive training sessions, complete assignments, and receive support to create an action plan to enhance their work.

Timeline & Time Commitment

The application period for a new cohort typically opens each August, and participants are chosen by mid-September. The program takes place from September through November. Participants should expect to dedicate two hours per week for training sessions as well as an additional two hours of their own time completing readings, assignments, and applying what they have learned to their project.


From 2011-2014, the HPRC partnered with the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness (BCFF), and Harvard Catalyst’s Community Engagement Program, on a training focused on nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention among children and youth. Through our conversations with community partners working to improve nutrition and physical activity, many organizations asked for a program to help better understand and use the public health approach, community-based participatory research methods, and the science underlying effective evidence-based obesity prevention strategies.

Leaders in Health was re-launched in 2017 with the Harvard T.H. Chan Office of Diversity and Inclusion under co-Directors, Bekka Lee and Ra’Shaun Nalls, with a broader focus on population health and prevention—expanding to include projects on topics such as elder wellness, health in housing, and sexual health promotion.


Topics covered during the Leaders in Health Program include:

  • Public Health Principles & Practice
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Health Equity
  • Project Planning & Implementation
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Speaking & Policy Advocacy

Within the first few weeks of the program, members identify a project that they are working on which they think could be enhanced by LIH principles. Then, over the second half of the program, participants create action plans, construct logic models, and examine evaluation and implementation strategies to help translate their knowledge into practice.

During the final week of the program, LIH participants presented an outline of the key components of their projects, such as specific aims, target population, activities, outcomes, and LIH concepts that they applied.

Program Dates: 2011-2014, 2017-present
Contact: Rebekka Lee

Five Questions with Leaders in Health Alumni

We’re excited to regularly feature Leaders in Health alumni here on the Leaders in Health page as well as in our quarterly news stories in our news section to highlight the successes that they’ve accomplished in their cohort and beyond in their daily work.

Five Questions with Ricardo Henry

Headshot of Ricardo Henry

Ricardo Henry, Community Leader at Health Leads, who participated in the 2022 Leaders in Health Cohort, answered five questions about his experience and what he’s up to now.

What drew you to participate in the Leaders in Health program?
The Leaders in Health Program seemed like it would give me the tools to do exactly what I wanted to do with and for my community, and it did.

What was your Leaders in Health project about?
My project was and still is about partnering with the community to build a group of leaders who are at the forefront of all decision making about food security, by reminding everyone what eating healthy looks like, sharing resources and helping to shape policy that work for underserved communities, access to healthy produce and fruit and cooking classes, learning to cook a healthy meal that only cost $25 and 30 mins to make to feed a family of four.

What was your favorite part of participating in Leaders in Health?
I met so many nice people who were also working to improve the lives of their community members and I enjoyed learning the best way to bring the community together for a cause that’s important to everyone.

What are you up to now? Any plans for the future?
I am doing exactly what I set out to do. Having community meetings with approximately 30 members every other week, having healthy food distributions every week, cooking classes, creating access to community leadership development, building relationships with orgs who are working on policy. Plans for the future are to build relationships with schools to get more youth involved in community service.

What advice would you share to those who might be interested in applying for a future Leaders in Health cohort?
My advice would be to know or have an idea of what you want to pursue as a project first, and build on the plan as you gain the appropriate tools needed while in the classes.


Past Participants and Presentations

Last updated:  May 10, 2023