Equity and Engagement Café

Equity and Engagement Café

Equity and Engagement Café  – Bringing together Health Equity and Community Engagement  

“Begin thinking of ways to start” … “end with the checkbox culture." -reflective anonymous comment 

Long-awaited opportunities for in-person networking were celebrated after the inaugural Equity and Engagement Café, a collaborative effort of Meharry Medical College (MMC), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA), hosted on November 29, 2022. Community members, trainees, researchers, and clinicians gathered at the Tennessee State Museum to listen as three featured panelists discussed health equity work in their respective communities: 1) Chelsei Granderson, MPH of Tennessee Department of Health 2) Aima Ahonkhai, MD, MPH of VUMC and 3) Stephania Miller-Hughes, PhD, MS, MSCI of Meharry Medical College. 

Moderator, Dr. Karen Winkfield, Executive Director of the MVA, challenged stakeholders attending this inaugural café “to embrace health equity in ways specific to your work that can drive each other to success.”  

Ms. Granderson described valuable personal and professional lessons learned on her journey to “helping people be healthy” as a health equity champion. Her perspective of “moving at the speed of trust” when working with the community set the tone of the evening’s discussions. Dr. Ahonkhai echoed her message by demonstrating how shared leadership promoted trust resulting in evidence-based “interventions developed that make sense for their needs,” which happens when we (researchers) “listened to the answers to the questions.” Finally, Dr. Miller-Hughes concluded by helping us understand the need for tailored health research optimization for groups carrying the heaviest burdens of disease with the ultimate goal of moving research from a testing environment to actionable health equity promotions. 

Following the panel discussion and questions and answers session, Networking B-I-N-G-O prompted attendees to engage with new acquaintances. To exit the event, attendees reflected on ways to make their work more equitable:

  • “Incorporate program participants more in the design of programming.” 
  • “Discuss involving students in trainees in equity and community engagement activities.” 
  • “How to work with not for the community” 

Many thanks to the Equity & Engagement Café Planning Committee, Dr. Sunil Kripalani (VUMC), Dr. Mekeila Cook (MMC), Tamarra McElroy (VUMC), Virginia Fuqua-Meadows (MVA) and Jessica Jones (MVA). 

“This event was so thought-provoking and well done. Thank you!” 

To receive notification of subsequent Equity & Engagement Cafés, click here to register to receive Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance news and updates. Visit our webpage and complete a request form to consult with our staff concerning your needs. 

Additional comments from reflection EXIT Tickets 

  • Learn more about resources for my patients-do they all have access to the same thing?-No  

  • Begin thinking of ways to start. 

  • This event was so thought-provoking and well done. Thank you! 

  • Encourage trainees to seek careers in community-engaged projects. 

  • Discuss involving students in trainees in equity and community engagement activities. 

  • Assess the community partners' values.  

  • Research engagement strategies. 

  • How to work with not for community how to build a team with representation from the community. 

  • End the checkbox culture. 

  • “Work at the speed of trust.” Chelsei Granderson 

Dr. Karen Winkfield, Dr. Jeannette South-Paul & MMC Student Kafayat Kareem