Dr. Derek Chapman has served as Interim Director for the Center since April 2018. Since joining the Center as Associate Director for Research in December 2013, he has been responsible for operational management of the Center’s research team and has led its expanding list of quantitative research projects. Dr. Chapman’s scholarly work on maternal and child health epidemiology, and the intersection of biologic and social determinants on children's health and development, is complemented by his 13 years of experience working in state health departments, where he conducted applied public health research to inform programs and policy. Since 2004, he has also served as associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health in the Division of Epidemiology (formerly the Department of Epidemiology and Community Health).
Steven Woolf directed the Center from its founding in 2007 through March 2018. As Director Emeritus, he continues to play a pivotal role at the Center, with a concentration on public policy issues, writing, and partnerships with colleagues and institutions devoted to population health and social justice. Dr. Woolf, a Professor of Family Medicine and Population Health, has focused his career on raising public awareness about the social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health and produce inequities. He has edited three books and published more than 200 articles. In addition to scientific publications, he works to address these issues through outreach to policymakers and the public, including testimony before Congress, consulting, editorials in major newspapers and social media, and speeches. Dr. Woolf trained in family medicine and public health and devoted his early career to health services research and the promotion of evidence-based strategies to prevent disease and promote public health.
Emily Zimmerman is a sociologist and member of the Engaging Richmond community-university research team. Her research focuses on the health and well being of vulnerable populations. She has expertise in quantitative data collection and analysis (including survey research, complex datasets, multivariate and multilevel analysis), qualitative data collection and analysis, mixed methods research, and community-based participatory research.
Sarah Blackburn is a sociologist and graduate of VCU's Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Her undergraduate education in marketing, advertising, and public relations, and background managing communications efforts for a variety of organizations has prepared her for her work directing communications efforts at the center.
Phoenecia “Neci” Hill is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She joined the Center in September 2019 as Community Engagement Coordinator bringing with her over 15 years of professional experience working in the fields of community engagement, youth development, non-profit management, higher education, and state and local government. She enjoys connecting with local residents, building community partnerships, and helping people get engaged, share their voice, and get involved in community-engaged research. Phoenecia holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Non-profit Management from Regent University. During her free time, she enjoys dancing, traveling, attending cultural and music festivals, spending time with friends and family, volunteering at local schools, and researching various public policy issues.
Cassandra Ellison serves as an Art Director at the VCU Center on Society and Health. She began working at the CSH as a graduate assistant in 2015. She received her BFA in 2008 and spent six years of professional work in arts, education, state government, and at her own studio, New Plume, before returning to the VCUarts Department of Graphic Design to pursue her MFA. She transitioned from student assistant to CSH staff member upon graduating with her Master's in 2017. She has a deep commitment to social design, with an interest in handmade vernacular. She applies the principles of empathy and design thinking to balance the technical, commercial, and human considerations of design for public health. In her free time, she is engaged in DIY culture, traveling, teaching, listening to podcasts, and the golden age of television.
Mary Lee Clark is a content writer for the Center. In 2017, she received a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University. As a student, she worked as a staff writer for VCU’s independent student newspaper, The Commonwealth Times, and has bylines in The Washington Post, Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, U.S. News & World Report, and other national and regional publications. Before working at the Center, she covered Virginia’s 2018 General Assembly session for Progress Virginia’s pilot news website and worked as a mobile journalist/communications officer at George Mason University.
DaShaunda Taylor is a graduate assistant for the Center as well as a full-time doctoral student in the VCU Department of Family Medicine and Population Health's Division of Epidemiology. She performs research and analysis activities in support of Center projects, utilizing her previous experiences as a health educator, teaching assistant, and research associate. Her research interests include perinatal health, maternal morbidity and mortality prevention, and health disparities. She earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Biology and Psychology from Hood College and her Master of Public Health degree (MPH) from the joint Graduate Program in Public Health at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Old Dominion University.
John Lee is a graduate assistant for the Center and a PhD candidate in the VCU Department of Family Medicine and Population Health’s Division of Epidemiology under the supervision of Prof. Derek Chapman. As a multidisciplinary explorer, his research interests center around the intersection of epidemiology (especially mortality and chronic disease) and spatial analysis and GIS. He holds an M.S. in Geography from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he has conducted research on identifying spatial variation in low birth weight and its contributory social determinants of health (SDH) among Korean immigrant women in New York City. In continuation with his research interests, his dissertation is to use advanced statistical methods and understand contributory determinants of the spatial heterogeneity and its effects in specific health outcomes.
Torey J Edmonds is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, with a BS in Criminal Justice. In addition, she has participated in UVa’s prestigious Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership and the Virginia Collaborative Leadership Program. She is currently employed as a Community outreach coordinator at VCU’s Health Communities for Youth with previous stints at Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, the Center for the Study and Prevention of Youth Violence, and the Richmond East District Improvement Corporation.
Leah Gregory is a resident of the East End community and has been a part of the Engaging Richmond team since 2016. Leah is a recent graduate of MPH/MSW dual degree program at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a social worker, she understands the complex challenges of underserved populations and the health disparities they experience. She is interested in social justice advocacy for health care issues such as HIV/STD prevention, sexual and relationship health, community planning, healthy food security and access, and global community health issues. She hopes to contribute to new and innovative ways to increase health and wellness in communities, especially those impacted by these issues. Her past experience includes work with individuals experiencing homelessness/housing policy, free clinics, in-home counseling/mental health support, individuals living with HIV, survivors of sexual assault/domestic violence, and individuals experiencing substance abuse. Having worked hard to fund her own undergraduate and graduate education, Leah is aware of the many challenges facing others. She is inspired to be an advocate for social change and community involvement, including being an active member of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. In her free time, she likes to cook, travel to new places, meet new people, listen to music, exercise through yoga and Zumba, and watch her spouse play soccer.
Chimere Miles is a resident of the East End Community and founding member of Engaging Richmond when the group formed in 2011. Chimere is passionate about opportunities for children and has volunteered with many groups and organizations, including Richmond Public Schools Early Head Start/ Head Start as the Policy Council Chairperson, the Richmond Public School Truancy Committee, and Richmond Promise Neighborhood. She also serves as a facilitator and participated in training for mental health first aide. She has also done work with Perter Paul Development Center with the Strengthening Families Program. Chimere has an Associate’s Degree in Allied Health and Science, and her previous work experience includes patient care work and medical administrative duties. One of her favorite characteristics of the East End is how neighbors feel like family. In her spare time, Chimere enjoys baking and spending time with her family.