249022 You work for us: Complexities of community leadership in community-based public health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Henry Herrera, MD , Dig Deep Farms & Produce, Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy, Oakland, CA
Christine M. Porter, PhD , Division of Kinesiology & Health, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
In this paper, the first author shares stories and lessons from 15 years of working to get universities to serve community public health goals. His view is that “you work for us.” Academic partners do not always see it that way. He explores that dynamic and provides examples of alternative modes for working with universities that have allowed community efforts to tap some of the substantial resources universities can bring to community health organizing without conceding the lead to them. He then discusses equal challenges in the other direction, about his legitimacy as a community member, because of his extensive education and training, in spite of his working class and multi-racial origins. While academics tend to gloss everyone outside of the academy as “community,” real communities hardly see it that way. Finally, the authors present the alternative approaches being taken with two universities and five “communities” to tackle challenges in both directions. This new project, led by both authors, studies and supports how communities build food dignity and sustainable food security. This action and research aims to put the resources of two land-grant institutions in service of the community partners. At the same time, each community is working to develop and follow leadership from people impacted by food insecurity in building food dignity and security. In the context of experiential lessons drawn by the first author, the paper closes with principles and promising strategies for collaborations that serve both community and academic missions.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify challenges for community leaders who work with academic research partners in maintaining legitimacy with both the university and community stakeholders. Describe strategies for managing or even overcoming these challenges as an academic or community partner. Make assumptions explicit about the roles of universities in community research partnerships, the "rules" and rewards of engagement for both kinds of partners, and who "counts" as "community."

Keywords: Community Research, Food Security

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 15 years of experience leading and facilitating community health initiatives, often in partnership with academics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.