Collaborative Community Partnerships


The MPH program values and actively works to ensure strong mutually beneficial relationships with community members, community-based organizations and emerging and existing public health professionals through a wide array of collaborative research and service initiatives including local, regional, and global projects.

We endeavor to create and nurture collaborative partnerships through:

  • Co-creating with our valued community colleagues the skills necessary to critically analyze information,
  • Fostering respect, and
  • Advocating for equity within and across populations, locally, nationally and internationally.

As faculty, staff and students we seek to support self-determination and dignity, which is central to community inclusion. Community inclusion is further strengthened by collaborating in the applied practice, volunteer and research experiences of students, using relevant technologies and magnifying community priorities and supporting community-member participation.

Dr. Jeanita W. Richardson

Dr. Jeanita W. Richardson has over 20 years of expertise in applied qualitative and quantitative strategies designed to assess and advance health equity outcomes through research, teaching and mutually beneficial community partnerships. In collaboration with international ministries of health, federal, state and local educational and health bodies, she offers data-driven recommendations and has earned a reputation as an advocate for optimizing the health of populations. As Director of Community Education, Research and Practice, she oversees a variety of community-led and community-based initiatives, outreach programs and research projects to foster mutually beneficial solutions to complex problems. Her experience in community engagement and research mentorship make her a highly sought after resource for culturally respectful research and programmatic practices. Research collaborations include but have not been limited to, the W.K Kellogg Foundation, the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Health, the Center for School, Health & Education (APHA), the Water and Health in Limpopo (WHIL) (SA) collaborative and local community organizations.

Dr. Kelsie D. Kelly

Dr. Kelsie D. Kelly’s research and community initiatives aim to improve health disparities in African American communities and raise youth awareness of public health issues through health education, advocacy and empowerment. She has worked both locally and globally to improve population health outcomes using mixed methods. Prior to joining UVA, she worked as a health education specialist at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. During that time, she implemented community health initiatives in collaboration with multicultural families in university housing, hosted community-wide Health Fairs bridging University and community relations and mentored undergraduate and graduate students in community health. Her work in the local community includes working with community partners to offer after school health education programs to 5-8th grade students in low-income neighborhoods. She and her students have worked to raise awareness on public health issues that young people deem important.

COVID-19 Vaccine Equity

COVID-19 has demonstrated what vulnerable communities have always known about health disparities and access to remediation. Despite the disproportionate COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in Black and Brown communities, inconsistent information about vaccine eligibility and complex registration platforms, in addition to vaccine hunters yielded evidence of inequity in vaccine distribution. Two local pastoral groups with Dr Richardson and Jackie Martin advocated for vaccines for the under-vaccinated high risk communities they served. The one time vaccine supply has burgeoned into several Your Life Matters Vaccine Clinics that have vaccinated over 1,200 to-date. Dr. Richardson and Ms. Martin currently serve on the Blue Ridge Health District COVID-19 vaccine task force where they continue to advocate for equitable distribution of vaccines and information.

Another example of COVID-19 community advocacy would be the education material Dr. Richardson has created for local residents addressing questions about vaccine safety, efficacy, hesitancy and access.