Skip to main content

2020 Community Engagement Fellowships

Participatory Assessments of the Racial Equity Institute’s Phase 1 Antiracism Workshop

Headshot of smiling young manDane Emmerling, Health Behavior
Community partner: Deena Hayes-Greene and the Racial Equity Institute
Faculty mentor: Geni Eng

Structural racism is theorized to be like water to a fish, ever present and—through its invisibility—difficult to intervene upon. Rather than address structural issues, organizations spend an estimated $8 billion a year on trainings focused on individual biases. However, review of individual trainings result in mixed findings. Racial Equity Institute’s (REI) Phase 1 trainings, which shifts the focus from individual to structural racism, have not been evaluated. This project builds on a partnership with REI that has already produced a shared values contract and work plan, an approved IRB proposal, and 16 in-depth interviews with REI trainers in order to understand the impacts of Phase 1 and how they should be measured. This summer REI and I have 3 goals: (1) have meetings with trainers to finalize an evaluation tool, (2) pilot the evaluation tool and (3) hold meetings with stakeholders from to start organizational case studies examining racial equity approaches.


Exploring the Menopause Experiences of Women in Prison

Headshot of smiling young womanElana Jaffe, Maternal and Child Health
Community partner: Elton Amos and North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women
Faculty mentor: Andrea Knittel

The menopause transition is associated with a range of physical and psychiatric symptoms that impact health-related quality of life and well-being. These symptoms may be more difficult to manage for women in prison, as there may be barriers to accessing treatments or interventions. There are increasing numbers of older female prisoners, and one-in-three older women in prison identify menopause as an important health concern. But there is a lack of evidence on the extent to which women’s menopause-related health care needs are being met in prison. Interviews with perimenopausal women incarcerated at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW) will provide much needed insight into the priorities, concerns and areas for intervention among this growing population. Findings may inform future correctional health programming at NCCIW and other institutions.


Building Equitable Futures: A Photovoice Study of Gender in Post-Earthquake Coastal Ecuador

headshot of smiling young womanMaja Jeranko, Anthropology
Community partner: Rut Roman and A Mano Manaba Foundation
Faculty mentor: Florence Babb

My project takes place in Don Juan, an Ecuadorian fishing village that was devastated by the early 2016 earthquake that destroyed 98 percent of existing infrastructure. While almost four years after the disaster living in Don Juan seems idyllic on the surface, there is an underlying pattern of abuse against women—exacerbated by alcoholism, teenage pregnancy and inability to read and write. This pattern leaves women in dependent situations for the rest of their lives. Despite these challenges, 15 women recently formed the first Women’s Committee. With the help of a local foundation, A Mano Manaba (FAMM), the women began a movement by writing and presenting a list of demands to the local mayor, thus becoming the voice and hope for women in Don Juan. Based on the local priority to understand changing gender relations and women’s needs in the post-disaster context, I will carry out a Photovoice project with the Women’s Committee which will aim to: describe this context and the impact on women and gender relations to generate action to address these issues; build community capacity for research and action; and contribute to the academic literature for continued work on gender inequity in coastal Ecuador.


Improving the Perinatal Health of Survivors of Sexual Victimization

headshot of smiling young womanBrooke Jordan, Social Work
Community partner: Melanie Patrick, Ashley Rankin Collins and Emerald Doulas
Faculty mentor: Mimi Chapman

This project intends to improve the health equity for all mothers who are survivors of sexual victimization. This project aims to accomplish three specific goals:
1) Bring together survivor mothers who have survived sexual victimization and experienced the perinatal period, doulas from our community partner at Emerald Doulas, obstetric providers, mental health providers and staff from UNC Hospital’s Beacon Program (which provides coordinated care for survivors of abuse) to create a space for shared dialogue. This dialogue will focus on the impact of past sexual victimization on the perinatal period. We will pay close attention to the needs of women in marginalized groups who are disproportionately affected by sexual victimization. All stakeholders will participate in a series of two focus groups to explore these topics.
2) Together, this group as a whole will use the Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach of analyzing the focus group data to arrive at consensus themes focused on the needs of the survivor mothers and as needs of care providers.
3) Based on this analysis, the groups will develop action steps to address the needs identified by survivor mothers and care providers.


Creating, evaluating and Sustaining a Health Care Hotspotting Project for Local Refugee Population

headshot of smiling young manAsif Khan, Medicine
Community partner: Refugee Community Partnership
Faculty mentor: Amy Weil

The goal of this project is to create, implement, evaluate and then sustain an innovative micro-macro framework to address social determinants of health needs (SDOH) of highly underserved refugee communities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. This collaborative model will involve a partnership between Refugee Community Partnership (RCP), a local community non-profit, and UNC pre-professional and professional health student volunteers. RCP will train and supervise the UNC volunteers using a relationship-based and trauma-informed care model. Students will learn how to skillfully address upstream and individualized social and health needs. As part of the micro-framework, students will be matched to a specific refugee family and will conduct longitudinal home visits and become their personal SDOH advocates.


A Public Forum to Report Back Research Results on Private Well Water Contamination in Robeson County

Headshot of smiling young manRiley Mulhern, Environmental Science and Engineering
Community partners: Robeson County Health Department and American Indian Mothers
Faculty mentors: Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, Emanuele Sozzi and Larry Engel

This project aims to report back research findings and seek community feedback on four ongoing studies at the Gillings School of Global Public Health related to well water contamination in Robeson County, North Carolina. A public, community-engaged forum is being organized to present the findings of each of the studies to participants in the studies, to community members and to local governmental and nonprofit groups in July 2020. This forum will provide an opportunity for the community to learn and benefit from ongoing research, provide critical feedback and facilitate the translation of research results into action to improve the health of the county residents.


Developing a Gender-Responsive Framework for Justice Involved People with Serious Mental Illness

headshot of smiling young womanAnna Parisi, Social Work
Community partner: Caroline Ginley and Community Resource Center
Faculty mentor: Amy Blank Wilson

Gender differences have been found in the experiences and needs of justice-involved men and women, providing a foundation for the need for gender-responsive services. However, little is known regarding gender differences among persons with serious mental illness (SMI), who are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and disproportionately re-incarcerated following reentry into the community. This gap has important implications for the efficacy and delivery of interventions that address the risk of recidivism among this population. To fill this gap, the present qualitative study aims to extend my previous research on gender differences in the treatment needs of justice involved individuals with SMI by exploring the experiences and needs of men and women participating in a local mental health court. This court, known as the Community Resource Court (CRC), assists justice-involved individuals with mental illnesses in Orange and Chatham counties. Open-ended interviews will be conducted with individuals participating in this court to explore factors that may hinder or facilitate justice involved men and women’s engagement in interventions aimed at reducing recidivism. Findings from this study will be used to bridge the gap between correctional research and practice and inform current understandings of how correctional interventions delivered in community-based settings can better engage the needs of justice-involved men and women.


It’s Not Just Chores! – A Daily Living Skills Workshop

headshot of smiling young womanKierra Peak, Occupational Science
Lindsay Rentschler, Applied Developmental Science and Special Education
Community partner: Kim Tizzard and Autism Society of North Carolina
Faculty mentor: Nancy Bagatell

Daily living skills (DLS) are the everyday skills required to function independently. These include tasks such as keeping a schedule, meal preparation, getting dressed and money management. Based on our review of the literature and our work interviewing families with adolescents with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD), we identified a need for assistance in this area. In partnership with Autism Society of North Carolina, we will develop a three-hour workshop aimed at empowering parents to commence addressing DLS with their early adolescent child. Commencing work on these skills prior to high school allows families ample acquisition  time prior to the transition into adulthood. The workshop will present strategies for motivating the teen to develop these skills and teach how to identify the skills to target.


Physiological Response to Language Revitalization Within a Coast Salish Community

photo of young woman smiling in the bow of a boatRachel Wilbur, Anthropology
Community partner: Sadie Olsen, Shirley Williams and Whiteswan Environmental
Faculty mentor: Amanda Thompson

This study revolves around a place-based language instruction and acquisition workshop for Native American youth and elders. The study goal is to record and document participant’s physiological responses to a language revitalization effort taking place within their community. Results will be presented to the Tribal Council and public health department, and to the broader community through a public presentation. Findings will contribute to the knowledge base regarding the physiological impacts of language and cultural revitalization efforts by Native American communities to interrupt the transmission of historical trauma responses.