Matt Schorr
June 26, 2018

Photo by Matt Schorr
Pictured from left to right at the Nashville Health Disparities Coalition Health Equity Award Luncheon are Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance Program Manager Jacquelyn S. Favours, MPH, CPH, CHES; Meharry Medical College Associate Professor Leah Alexander, PhD; Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center CEO Katina Beard, MSPH; and Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance Executive Director Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. The National Health Disparities Coalition recently received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) – Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Health Equity Award, which recognizes partnerships successfully using systems and policy change to overcome the root causes of health, social, environmental and economic inequalities. Community leaders gathered at the Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center (MWCHC) Wednesday, June 13, 2018, to celebrate the achievement in a luncheon hosted by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance.


Photo by Matt Schorr
Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance Executive Director Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI welcomes attendees to the National Health Disparities Coalition Health Equity Award Luncheon.

Welcoming remarks

Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Executive Director Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI began the celebration by welcoming everyone and noting the Health Equity Award’s purpose of recognizing key leaders who spearhead successful partnerships between communities and academic institutions.

“The award is intended to promote health equity and strive to achieve social justice,” she said.


Photo by Elisa Friedman
Meharry Medical College Associate Professor Leah Alexander, PhD and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center CEO Katina Beard, MSPH discuss ongoing efforts of the National Health Disparities Coalition.

Ongoing efforts

Past co-chairs of the NHDC, MWCHC CEO Katina Beard, MSPH and Meharry Medical College (MMC) Associate Professor Leah Alexander, PhD described the NHDC’s ongoing efforts to empower community members to seek better health, help change local healthcare practices and mobilize communities to implement public health programs to reduce health disparities.

“We’re very grateful for the many partnerships that have grown from the NHDC,” Beard commented.

Alexander added, “I appreciate all the work the academic partners bring to the table.”

To highlight the NHDC’s work, they also described five ongoing partnership initiatives:

  • A Few Good Men: African American Male Health in Nashville
  • The Dial Down Diabetes Initiative
  • Capacity-Building Assistance for Biospecimen Collection Among African Americans
  • The NHDC/MVA Faith and Health Collaborative
  • NHDC/MMC Health Equity Education


Photo by Elisa Friedman
Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center Psychologist Cynthia Jackson, PhD and Meharry Medical College and REACH 2020 Community Organizer Samuel McCullough lay out the National Health Disparities Coalition's plans for the future.

Future goals

MWCHC Psychologist Cynthia Jackson, PhD and MMC and REACH 2020 Community Organizer Samuel McCullough detailed plans to update and expand the NHDC’s initiatives to better impact the community.

“We’ll continue to support REACH 2020 and partner with the community engagement core at MMC,” Jackson said. “We’re always working to make sure the community’s voice is heard.”

McCullough noted that the NHDC was also looking to expand its executive board and work to bring in a mental health perspective to ongoing partnership initiatives like Dial Down Diabetes.




Dr. Wilkins ended the celebration by calling the Health Equity Award a call to action, and thanking everyone for their work to support community health.

“It’s an honor for us to be in a role to see this work thrive,” she said.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshop.