Connecting Nationally



JéWana Grier-McEachin(ABIPA) and Kathey Avery,BSN(IFPHA) are both fellow alumni in the respective Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Leadership Programs. These opportunities elevated ABIPA’s ability to make an impact on health equity issues through research locally and regionally.

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders

The Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) program supports and expands action-oriented and community-engaged research to create healthier communities. Its goal is to produce diverse interdisciplinary leaders who conduct and apply high-quality, community-engaged, action-oriented, equity-focused, health research in order to drive improvements in the health of communities and help advance a Culture of Health.

Perceptions of Racism and Health among African Americans in Rural Western North Carolina



Ameena Batada, MPH, DrPH

Jill Fromewick, SM, ScD

JéWana Grier-McEachin, BA

Cohort: 2018-2021

Theme Area:  Addressing Social and Economic Determinants to Prevent Chronic Conditions and to Promote Health, Wellbeing and Equity in Rural America


Institutional, cultural, and internalized racism are determinants of African American health in the U.S.  Another determinant, social support, may influence the relationship between perceived discrimination and the stress response, and between perceived discrimination and healthy behaviors. In the team’s work to reduce health disparities, primarily in churches and housing communities in Western North Carolina, they increasingly recognize the value of engaging in conversations with program participants about racism and its effects on health. The proposed research project will explore rural African Americans’ perceptions of racism and health, investigate the association between racism and health outcomes, and identify the potential influence of rural African American churches on the relationship between racism and health.  As increasing social isolation makes it difficult for many Americans to mitigate health risks, identifying ways to promote social support may reduce health disparities. Findings will be utilized by social service providers, health care providers, and institutional and governmental decision-makers in rural jurisdictions to develop and implement policies to address the impact of racism on health.

Clinical Scholars

Each year, Clinical Scholars invests in experienced health care providers ready to embark on a transformative personal and professional journey. Clinical Scholars Fellows advance their leadership skills and implement a team-based health equity project in their community.

Health Engagement Leading to Prevention

Kathey Frank and Suchin

Team Members:

Kathey Avery,BSN

Shuchin Shukla, MD, MPH

Frank Castelblanco,DNP

Cohort 2019-2022

Focus Areas: Housing Insecurity, Mental Health

Wicked Problem Description:

The lack of coordinated and effective policies and processes to ensure that homeless (high-risk) individuals living with mental illness are assigned appropriate subsidized housing and subsequently get the follow-up and sustained support they need to live and thrive in health and peace with their neighbors.

Project Strategies:

  • Utilize the community health care workers (CHWs) modality and establish training sites for community stakeholders and concerned residents within housing to become CHWs. CHWs will be embedded in subsidized housing complexes to support the high-risk residents living with mental health issues.
  • Partner with community agencies that utilize the housing-first model (to address homelessness) and establish procedures/protocol to ensure that they are assigned to a place where HELP is embedded.
  • Establish and maintain an effective working relationship between subsidized housing staff and community-based resources, providing meaningful, ongoing support for the HELP clients.
  • Utilize the partnership between the Buncombe County Veterans Treatment Court (28th Judicial District) and ABIPA/HELP to provide holistic support for justice-involved veterans as they transition to permanent housing. Work to address the high-risk veteran’s social determinants of health through the use of CHWs.


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