Previously Featured Projects

Featured Publication

UW-Informed Publication on Community Engagement in Academic Health Centers (AHCs)

Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

November 3, 2017 Feature

We are pleased to share a new publication looking at the challenges faced by AHCs to demonstrate the effectiveness of community-engaged activities. “Community Engagement in Academic Health Centers: A Model for Capturing and Advancing Our Successes,” is published in the current issue of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

This publication reports on a project out of the University of Rochester that UW participated in under the leadership of ICTR Administrative Director, Sarah Esmond. Ms. Esmond was endorsed by ICTR Leadership, Dean Golden and Associate Dean Petty to engage colleagues from the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Medicine & Public Health to document and assess Community Engagement activities across the UW Health Sciences.

Find the full article in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

Abstract: Academic health centers (AHCs) are under increased pressure to demonstrate the effectiveness of their community engaged activities, but there are no common metrics for evaluating community engagement in AHCs. Eight AHCs piloted the Institutional Community Engagement Self-Assessment (ICESA), a two-phase project to assess community engagement efforts. The first phase uses a framework developed by the University of Rochester Medical Center, which utilizes structure, process, and outcome criteria to map CE activities. The second phase uses the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Self-Assessment to identify institutional resources for community engagement, and potential gaps, to inform community engagement goal-setting. The authors conducted a structured, directed content analysis to determine the effectiveness of using the two-phase process at the participating AHCs. The findings suggest that the ICESA project assisted AHCs in three key areas and may provide a strategy for assessing community engagement in AHCs.

The Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship (JCES) is a peer-reviewed international journal through which faculty, staff, students, and community partners disseminate scholarly works. JCES integrates teaching, research, and community engagement in all disciplines, addressing critical problems identified through a community-participatory process.



January 24, 2017 Feature

Thank you to Dr. Cindy Haq for sharing a recent publication with us! Dr. Haq is a longtime CCHE colleague and our CCHE mission to grow the diversity of the workforce, in particular in underserved areas, ties very closely to the work of the TRIUMPH program.

A paper summarizing Training in Urban Medicine and Public Health (TRIUMPH) outcomes was recently published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal:

This work would not be possible without a strong institutional infrastructure and close partnerships between the UW SMPH, CCHE, Aurora and Milwaukee communities. 

Thank you for your contributions!
Cindy, TRIUMPH Students, Faculty, Staff and Community Partners

TRIUMPH Student Graduation



December 7, 2016 Feature

CCHE would like to highlight a recent recognition ~

Dorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD, Director of CCHE, and Gina Green Harris, Director of the newly established UW SMPH Center for Community Engagement and Health Partnerships, were recently honored with the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Chapter Award. The award was in recognition of research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Toronto, Canada in July 2016.

Congratulations, Dorothy & Gina, and thank you for your excellent work!

The abstract of the research presentation, ‘Connecting the Dots: Meeting the Diagnostic and Treatment Needs of Underserved Urban African American Elders with Memory Loss,’ follows:

Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis in communities of color. Systematic reviews of barriers to ADRD diagnosis and treatment identify many a sociocultural and structural factors unique to minority elders and their families that reduce access to health and social services resulting in significantly lower levels of diagnosis, diagnosis at later stages and lack of appropriate treatment, supportive services and prevention. Since minority elders and their families are also less likely to be enrolled in ADRD research much less is known about their health and wellbeing. Little data documents comorbid conditions affecting cognition, function and caregivers. The current study provides much needed information about an urban underserved cohort. In 2009 Milwaukee Health Services a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) partnered with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WAI) to implement a multidisciplinary Memory Diagnostic Clinic funded by the University of Wisconsin Madison. This physician led clinic includes a nurse practitioner and case manager. Patients range in age from 52-90 (M:71.1 ±12.8), the majority are female (65%) and African American (93%), with high school education or less (M:9.56 yrs ± 3.76), 45% live alone, only 19 %  had a primary care memory screening. Co-morbid cardiovascular conditions are common; 70% are hypertensive, 30 % are diabetic, 45% have hyperlipidemia and 17% have stroke, substance abuse and TBI were also common. Patients undergo a comprehensive physical examination, laboratory testing, cognitive evaluation and imaging if needed. MMSE scores ranged from 4-29(M: 20.3 ±7.71). Cognistat scores were low compared to norms–Mem: 4.82± 3.15; Calc: 2.04 ± 1.29;Judg: 3.96± 1.67; Sim: 3.90± 2,49. Depression was common, GDS scores ranged from 0-15, 45 % were  ≥5.  Twelve % were diagnosed with MCI, 10% with AD and 38% with mixed dementia.  Substantial social service needs were largely unaddressed. Patients and families receive education, referrals to supportive services and assistance with benefit applications for VA, Medicaid and other benefits. The Clinic offers community memory screenings, education and a healthy lifestyle intervention program for patients and caregivers. Findings suggest that FQHCs may be an important source of dementia diagnosis and treatment services for individuals underserved by traditional health systems.




August 5, 2016 Feature

In addition to the recent announcement of 2016 ICTR pilot funding, the Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEAD) Program has pilot award news to share!

UW-Madison AHEAD Scholars are eligible to apply for a $10,000 pilot award, funded through ICTR, to advance their health equity research. The four 2016 awardees were notified at the end of June.

Congratulations to all!

Cultural and economic Influences on child weight-related communication in clinic
Gwendolyn Jacobsohn, PhD, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Primary Care Research Fellow

Childhood obesity disproportionately affects African-American, Latino, and lower-income families, compared to Caucasian and higher income families. Many pediatric health care providers address obesity prevention and treatment with parents and children using recommended care practices. If information is not communicated in a culturally appropriate manner, however, it can be of little value and even perpetuate existing health disparities. Research indicates that parents view pediatric health care providers as valued sources of information about child weight and want to be given useful information about weight-related topics. How they perceive, assess the value of, and use the information is still unknown, as is the influence of racial/ethnic culture and socioeconomics. This qualitative study explores parents and adolescents experiences and perceptions of weight-related discussions with health care providers—including what messages they have heard, what information was and was not useful (and why), the impact these interactions had on weight-related behaviors, and how cultural and economic factors shaped the way they dealt with weight-related issues.

Association between objectively measured physical activity, sleep, and obesity in urban American Indian children
Vernon Grant, PhD, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Primary Care Research Fellow

Obesity is a major public health concern in American Indian (AI) children.  In addition to physical inactivity, sleep disorders are a risk factor for obesity.  Understanding how physical activity (PA) and sleep impact obesity risk is critical for research conducted in Indian country. The Specific Aim of this study is to assess the association between sleep, PA, and obesity in urban American Indian children. We expect children who engage in ≤ 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA per day and get ≤ 9 hours of sleep per night will have greater rates of overweight and obesity. The public health impact of this study is to gain better understanding of the relationship of sleep with obesity in middle-school age AI children will assist with intervention efforts in the future.

Wisconsin Survey of Trans Youth: An Assessment of Resources and Needs
Jennifer Rehm, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Public Health, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) Scholar

Transgender and gender nonconforming youth (TGNC) are at increased risk for mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicidality. Though medical support and interventions have been shown to decrease these disparities, barriers to accessing support services, including mental and medical health services, have not been well characterized in this population. Effective advocacy depends on community engagement to create successful interventions. We hypothesize that transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) youth will identify community needs and barriers to accessing resources that will serve as an effective platform for future advocacy and resource development. We aim to accomplish this by collecting surveys from TGNC youth and conducting groups. When our data analysis is complete, this needs assessment will be presented to community organizations to inform their work with TGNC youth and will serve as a platform for the Transgender Youth Resource Network to develop specific interventions to address needs and barriers experienced by TGNC youth. To our knowledge, our project is the first statewide assessment of TGNC youth’s perceptions of community needs and barriers to resources. Our study specifically aims to understand barriers in access to care for TGNC youth in order to develop community-informed strategies to address the disparities they experience.

Socio-Political Context and the Health of Latina/o Populations
Edward Vargas, PhD, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, Center for Women’s Health and Health Disparities Research, T32 Postdoctoral Health Disparities Research Scholar

This project will analyze data from the Latino National Health and Immigration Survey, State Legislative Data, and data from U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. The study aims to examine the association between personally knowing a deportee on the physical and mental health of Latino immigrant and non-immigrant Latino adults and their children. This aim will examine the spillover effects immigration policy might have on the Latino community; to examine the interrelationship between state immigration laws and respondents’ perceptions of their environment on self-reported health status; and to examine the link between the risks of deportation and immigration laws, on program use. This final aim will offer implications for social determinants of health and disparities. The long term goals of my research are to integrate socio-political realities of the Latino experience into the social determinants of health literature by also capturing the spillover effects for Latina/o non-immigrant populations and their children.



alz choir

May 12, 2016 Feature

Quarterly, the magazine for alumni, friends, faculty and students of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, features a cover story on some of the great work of the Alzheimer’s Research Disease Center (ADRC) and Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute(WAI) in their latest issue (April 2016)!

Beyond the clinics and research cohort, the ADRC and WAI are strongly committed to working on health disparities associated with Alzheimer’s disease. African-Americans have double the risk of developing the disease, and they are less likely to seek help. The UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) DirectorDorothy Farrar-Edwards, PhD, is the Leader of the ADRC Outreach, Recruitment & Education Core and the Minority Recruitment Satellite Program. CCHE colleague Gina Green-Harris, MBA, is the director of the WAI’s Milwaukee Outreach Program and Services Office which helps African-American families get to the diagnostic clinics, connects families to local resources from the point of diagnosis to the end of the spectrum of long-term care, and provides families with one-on-one assistance to guide them through the health care systems.

The Amazing Grace Choir is an example of a successful WAI outreach project. With support from the Bader Foundation, a group from WAI traveled to New York University where a pilot program started by Mary Mittelman, DPH, was studying whether singing could improve mood in caregivers and people with memory issues. In summer 2014, WAI brought the program to Milwaukee for implementation in the community. To date, the 16 members of the Milwaukee choir have given two public concerts and the choir practice also forms a community for families who are struggling with the same issues. They worry when someone doesn’t show up and chorus coordinator Stephanie Houston spends time making sure members have transportation and other social supports in place so they can just sing on Saturday mornings.

Green-Harris says the music doesn’t only heal those in the choir. “When you see these people singing, it brings tears to your eyes,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, this is why we come to work every day.’ This is powerful.”

The latest issue of Quarterly is available for download, here.
The Alzheimer’s feature begins on page 10 with the feature on the Amazing Grace Choir on page. 13.



ucc screenshot

April 14, 2016 Feature

Quarterly, the magazine for alumni, friends, faculty and students of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, included a story on the HAPPY II Program at United Community Center (UCC) in Milwaukee in their latest issue (April 2016)!

HAPPY stands for Healthy Activities Partnership Program for Youth. This community-engaged research project was launched at UCC with the Bruce Guadalupe Community School in 2009, is sponsored by the Wisconsin Partnership Program (WPP), and is facilitated by Research Ambassadors with the UW-Madison CTSA Institute for Clinical and Translational Research‘s Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) on site at UCC. CCHE supports 2 Research Ambassadors in the UCC Research Office – Al Castro and Militza Bonet-Vasquez – who work in close collaboration with UW researchers on the projects.

HAPPY I ran from 2009-2012 with academic team leaders Aaron Carrel, MD, and David Allen, MD. The HAPPY I team also included UW collaborators from the School of Engineering, and the Departments of Population Health and Urban and Regional Planning. Findings from HAPPY I informed a second grant application by UCC to the WPP and HAPPY II is an implementation project with UCC students, staff, and UW geographer and landscape architect Sam Dennis, PhD. Read more about both HAPPY I and HAPPY II here.

CCHE has a long standing academic agreement with UCC to support a Spanish-speaking Research Ambassador located a UCC to assist both community members (in Hispanic and Latino populations) and the UW-Madison, Milwaukee researchers. The goal of the ambassador is to establish and nurture community engaged research partnerships in health equity involving the Latino communities with the UW research investigators. As previously mentioned, the Research Ambassador role is currently shared by Al Castro and Militza Bonet-Vasquez. CCHE is immensely proud of our relationship with UCC and the work Al and Militza have done over the years to better the community and advance health equity research efforts. Most recently, Mr. Castro presented about the Research Ambassador role and partnership with CCHE during the Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI) on June 15, 2016. See the full program for HELI 2016, here.

Read the full issue of Quarterly magazine, here. The HAPPY II feature is on page 9.

As always, stay tuned for more!




April 1, 2016 Feature

CCHE is excited to congratulate HELI 2010 alumna Earlise Ward, PhD, on her recently appointed role as interim Associate Dean of Academic Programs & Education Innovation in the UW-Madison School of Nursing!

Dr. Ward has held a faculty researcher appointment with CCHE since 2012, serving as faculty director for our annual Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI).  She is a Master mentor with the National Research Mentoring Network and also serves as a fellow in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) Academic Leadership Program and the American Psychological Association (APA) Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology.  Having sought new avenues to contribute to academic leadership, “Serving as interim Associate Dean in the School of Nursing is a great opportunity with a great school and institution,” says Dr. Ward.

Dr. Ward is Associate Professor at the UW-Madison School of Nursing and her researchcenters on mental health treatment for older underserved populations. As a researcher and licensed psychologist, Dr. Ward has witnessed first-hand in her clinical practice the impact of mental health disparities among African Americans. Her program of research focuses on developing and testing culturally adapted mental health interventions for African American adults with depression. Dr. Ward has expanded her research on an international level. In particular, she is collaborating with researchers in the US Virgin Islands and Ghana, Africa, to develop and test culturally specific behavioral treatments for depression. She is also presently expanding her research domestically to focus on treating depression in American Indian Elders.

Congratulations and best of luck with this new academic leadership position, Dr. Ward!



Native American Center for Health Professions


March 2016 Feature

CCHE is always happy to applaud our colleagues in the Native American Center for Health Professions (NACHP) for their successful practices leading to increased numbers of Native American students studying to work in the health sciences at UW-Madison. We’re extra thrilled to congratulate them on the recent recognition by the Wisconsin State Journal which highlights the Center’s efforts to diversify the health care workforce and improve health care back on tribal reservations of Wisconsin and across the nation.

“NACHP welcomes outside interest in our programming and we hope our success continues for years to come,” says Lauren Cornelius, Associate Student Services Coordinator with NACHP. “As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village…’ and we could not have gotten to where we are without the continued support of students and their families, CCHE team members and affiliates, and other programs and departments in the SMPH and on campus.”

NACHP was established within CCHE in December 2012 by Founding Director Erik Brodt, MD.  Since then, it has acquired support from a variety of local, state and national sources and is now led by Jacquelynn D. Arbuckle, MD.  NACHP has also moved from CCHE to be housed under the SMPH Office of Academic Affairs where most student development programming resides. As NACHP flourishes, so too do the Native students served by the Center. In the WSJ article, Elizabeth Petty, MD, the medical school’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, notes, “There was a recognized gap in terms of reaching out to Native Americans. We wanted to make sure we were addressing their needs.”

Read more about how NACHP is creating a community of support for Native students at UW in the WSJ article, “Recruiting from the reservation: UW boosts effort to train Native American medical students.”

WSJ picture 2
(Pictured above) UW Medical students Justin Meyers and Brit Nelson with Dr. Christine Athmann, Assistant Director of NACHP and Dr. Jackie Arbuckle, Director of NACHP.


Community Engaged Projects


February 2016 Feature

CCHE Research Ambassador Tim Frandy and frequent CCHE collaborator, folklorist Thomas DuBois (UW-Madison), recently returned from Umeå, Sweden, where they met with a team of scholars looking to launch a new international and indigenous collaborative project that connects schools, universities, museums, and cultural leaders in order to strengthen education, traditional culture, and health in indigenous communities.

The interdisciplinary project will focus on cultural repatriation and revitalization as a means to overcome historical trauma in indigenous communities.  Historical trauma has been linked to a wide range of health inequities and social problems in indigenous communities.  The project will partner recent collaborative efforts of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Lac du Flambeau Public School with the University of Umeå and indigenous Sámi communities in Sweden’s north.

Current partners in this project include Sámi Scholar Krister Stoor (University of Umeå), archeologist Jans Heinerud (Västerbottens Museum), and archeologist Thomas Larsson (University of Umeå).  Kristen Stoor is a prominent Sámi scholar and traditional joik-singer, and Larsson and Heinerud have worked to repatriate artifacts and human remains to Sámi communities that were excavated from burial grounds without consent.  They have also worked with museums in Sweden to develop better and more consistent policies to allow the repatriation of such materials back to their rightful owners.

Although the project is still in its early and formative stages, there are plans to host the Swedish colleagues in June of 2016 on campus, and do site visits with the Anishinaabe communities in northern Wisconsin. We will all stay tuned as this process develops!


HELI 2015 reception


October 2015 Feature

The UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity (CCHE) and the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) are scheming on some cross-campus mentorship collaboration.

Tracy Williams-Maclin, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Wisconsin Alumni Association and Chris Sorkness, Sarah Esmond and Caitlin LeValley of CCHE have been exploring how student and scholar mentoring could be one pathway for alumni who are interested in engaging with campus diversity and inclusion activities.

As reported in the Summer 2015 issue of ‘On Wisconsin’ Magazine, Badger alumni are giving of their time to recharge student scholarship programs, recognize peer accomplishments, and lend their considerable influence to support the UW’s priorities. Williams-Maclin is partnering with graduates – such as African American business leaders in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Atlanta; leaders across the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community; and alumni of the Ho-Chunk Nation. “These connections are inspiring fellow alumni to become involved, encouraging our organization to diversify from within, and ultimately, sharing the message that these alumni matter,” says Williams-Maclin.

In June, CCHE hosted its annual Health Equity Leadership Institute (HELI) with post-doctoral researchers from Wisconsin and across the country working in health equity and health disparities research.  CCHE and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement under Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Patrick Sims co-sponsored a UW Welcome Reception with several special guests, including UW Systems Regent, Dr. Eve Hall. These guests extended warm welcome to HELI Scholars and faculty, recognizing the extensive collaborations underway on and off-campus to address minority health and health equity research and scholarship, scholar career development and mentoring, and new initiatives intended to engage and re-engage diverse UW alum in our campus future.

Moving forward, CCHE and WAA are ensuring linkages among multiple mentoring resources on campus with diversity goals, including the HELI, the Advancing Health Equity and Diversity (AHEAD) program, the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and other STEM workforce diversity initiatives to ensure sharing of resources and expertise. Most recently, Williams-Maclin connected CCHE to student leader, Margo Batie, of the newly reestablished Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGSPA) and CCHE is excited to support activities they are co-sponsoring this Fall with the Women and Science in Leadership Initiative (WISELI) and others in support of advancing professional career development of scholars in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.

UW Homecoming is quickly approaching and the Wisconsin Medical Alumni Association (WMAA) and the School of Medicine and Public Health Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) are hosting an Alumni Reception at 5:00pm on Friday, October 16th in the Health Sciences Learning Center. According to Manuel Santiago, the goal of the reception is to create a venue for alumni and current students to network and mentor. This will eventually lead to more formalized, ongoing activities between OMA alumni and students.




May 2015 Feature

The Center is excited to share about a new research endeavor in the SMPH’s Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. UW is one of sixty sites internationally using an experimental drug that could slow or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Recruitment of participants is underway. The study team is committed to enrolling at least 20% of study participants from communities traditionally under-represented in research since the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in some of these populations is two times greater than in non-Hispanic whites.

The A4 Study (Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s) goal is to test whether reducing amyloid burden with a monoclonal antibody investigational treatment can stop or help slow the memory loss associated with amyloid plaque accumulation in some people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.  The UW team is led by Dr. Cynthia Carlsson.

The A4 study seeks older individuals (ages 65-85) who have normal thinking and memory function, but who may be at risk for memory loss due to Alzheimer’s-related brain changes. Eligible individuals cannot have outward signs of the disease to participate in the study.

CCHE Affiliate, Danielle Washington, works in the ADRC and she and Dr. Carlsson recently sat down for an interview with WORT 89.9 FM in Madison. It provides a great overview of the A4 study!  You can listen to the WORT interview, here.

For more information, contact the Madison study coordinator, Ben Farral, at or 608-256-1901 ext. 11640.

This feature was co-written by Danielle Washington and has IRB approval for publication on the CCHE website.

Dr. Cynthia Carlsson

Dr. Cynthia Carlsson

Ben Farral, Madison Study Coordinator

Ben Farral, Madison Study Coordinator

Danielle Washington

Danielle Washington



January 2015 Feature


Walnut Way Conservation Corp (WW) is forging ahead with a new commercial development known as the Innovation and Wellness Commons (IWC) planned for Milwaukee’s north side. Partners with WW since 2009, CCHE feels a great deal of pride about the many community-academic partnerships that have informed the development of the IWC including services that The Commons will offer to neighborhood residents.

The IWC, also known as ‘The Commons,’ officially launched in 2011 with a diverse group of 70 stakeholders, the Program Integration Committee (PIC), meeting over a 15-month planning period. This group of stakeholders came together to develop a vision and plan for guiding principles, goals, and program priorities. The 3 major goals of the Commons are:

  1. To create a sustainable place of restoration and healing, in which individual wellbeing and neighborhood quality of life are cultivated;
  2. To deepen shared investment in the neighborhood through a comprehensive economic strategy for community enterprise development, leading to the creation of job training and employment opportunities for neighborhood residents; and
  3. To build a beautiful energy-efficient campus that will be a catalyst in restoring vitality to the North Avenue commercial corridor.

The plan for the Commons is now a two-phased catalytic redevelopment project that will serve as a hub for economic development, healthy food, wellness services, and workforce training programs on Milwaukee’s near-Northside. Partners will fill the Commons with services to support food processing, healthy food retail, business start-ups, training and employment, and wellness services. The aim is to spark commercial development and address barriers of isolation caused by a lack of capital investment, businesses development, and employment. Further details about Phases I and II are available via this Journal Sentinel articleand a video produced by Walnut Way on the project.

Significant community-academic partnerships are informing services that The Commons will offer to neighborhood residents. Walnut Way secured a large implementation grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program with academic partners Dr. Cindy Haq and John Frey, MD of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 2013. Their grant, entitled, ‘Advancing Community Investment in Health: Implementation of the Innovations and Wellness Commons’ feeds directly into the forward movement of the IWC. The main aims of this grant are to develop a wellness provider network who will offer services on the IWC campus; implement a wellness and health coaching program; develop an evaluation and information technology infrastructure to track individual and community outcomes and create a consultation program to support dissemination and replication of the lessons learned.

CCHE affiliates Kristen Malecki, PhD, MPH, faculty in Population Health Sciences, and David Frazer, MPH, academic staff at the Center for Urban Population Health, are also contributing to this WPP-funded partnership led by Cindy Haq. The UW team is working to support rigorous evaluation of the project to ensure the work being done can be used as a model in other communities. Evaluation includes measuring the impact of these initiatives on participants’ mental health and wellness and positive behavior change. It is anticipated that the positive environmental changes initiated in the community through the new development along with networking created by the wellness center programming will have profound effect on the community. The pilot initiatives supporting this work including “women’s healing circles” have already had tremendous impact on the lives of participants. “This comprehensive initiative that starts with environmental change and economic development has enormous potential for addressing many of the complex health disparities facing our nation today. These investments and focus on both individual and community wellness shifts traditional community health improvement paradigms. It is an honor to be a part of this initiative and watch it grow,” says Dr. Malecki.

CCHE affiliate Amy Harley, PhD, MPH, RD, faculty at the UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health, is leading another project to address adult health and wellness in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The WPP Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families 2013 project implementation grant, ‘No Longer an Island: Creating a Place-based Men’s Peer Outreach and Social Support Network,’ seeks to develop a leadership and social support network that will increase engagement among African American fathers and men through peer mentoring and porch to porch outreach and navigation. This project builds on a successful pilot project where 12 residents spent 15 months learning and developing this grant. A brief documentary was created of the initial project. Collaborative partners to Dr. Harley and Walnut Way are David Frazer, MPH, Center for Urban Population Health, Cross Lutheran Church and a network of social service providers who support fathers and men.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony for ‘The Commons’ took place on Thursday, January 22nd at10:30am. Attendees gathered at the Walnut Way Center (2240 N 17th St, Milwaukee) and walked together to ‘The Commons’ at 16th and North Ave. There was an enthusiastic turn out and significant recognition of the cause worthy of celebration. Special guests including Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Mayor Tom Barrett were present for the groundbreaking, with the Lt. Governor announcing the award of a competitive state economic development grant to help fund the continuation of the initiative.



December 2014 Feature

Winter Lodge

Thanks to generous support from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, this autumn the first Ojibwe Winter Lodge was constructed in Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin in over two centuries.  Relatively little is known about these legendary structures, which fell out of use several centuries ago among Ojibwe people in the Upper Midwest, and contemporary re-creations are extremely few in number.

The winter lodge was said to be so warm that babies could comfortably crawl around unclothed, even as temperatures sunk below -30 Fahrenheit in the depths of winter.  This was accomplished by the structure’s ingenious architecture, featuring peat-moss insulated walls, an underground air-intake made of birchbark rolls to provide oxygen for the fire, and a radiant heat floor made of large river rocks topped with a layer of clay.  This design averts several major problems with wintertime dwellings.  It minimizes smoke in the living quarters, as only a small fire is necessary to sustain even heating after the underground stones warmed.  It does not pull cold air directly into the living quarters to provide oxygen for the fire, instead drawing oxygen directly into the fire pit through an underground duct.  The heated floor also resolves the problem of discomfort when trying to sleep on cold earth at night.

The Winter Lodge was constructed at YMCA Camp Nawakwa, on the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, by master Ojibwe artist Wayne Valliere, his apprentice Lawrence Mann, and supporting UW personnel, including Tim Frandy (CCHE and NACHP), Thomas DuBois (Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, Religious Studies, Scandinavian Studies) and Colin Connors (Scandinavian Studies, Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies).  The UW team was instrumental in fundraising, programing development and documentation, and assisting with the construction.  “The best part of the project,” says CCHE Research Ambassador Tim Frandy, “was working with the kids on the lodge’s construction.  They’re great young people with bright futures in front of them.”

Students in Lac du Flambeau’s ENVISION program—a program that uses Ojibwe methodologies, pedagogies, and teachings to guide at-risk youth back onto the good path— assisted with the lodge’s construction, learning about the building techniques, about the lodge’s historical importance, and about the degree of scientific and technological sophistication that their ancestors possessed.  The students actively assisted UW ethnographers in documenting the project, and they will also participate in the curation of a detailed website about the lodge’s construction.

During the process of building the lodge, students were actively working in the woods along their teachers and representatives from UW-Madison, peeling cedar and birchbark, sewing together birch panels, cutting maple saplings for the frame, digging the underground rock chamber, and laying down nearly a ton of rocks into the subfloor.  “Not only are they learning their culture, they are also getting lots of exercise from both gathering the natural materials and building the structure,” says Wayne Valliere.  “This is putting them on the path to good physical health.”

By participating in this program, Ojibwe youth were engaged in purposeful exercise, they learned traditional Ojibwe teachings about living a balanced and healthful life, and they built positive relationships with each other, with their elders, and with UW faculty, staff, and graduate students.  The program builds upon resilience and broaden-and-build theory, which suggest that a broad network of transformative positive cultural experiences can counter the effects of adverse childhood experiences and the ongoing condition of historical trauma in Native communities.

In addition to the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the project partnered ENVISION, the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Language and Culture Program, the Lac du Flambeau Public School, and YMCA Camp Nawakwa with UW-Madison’s CCHE, NACHP, the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, and the Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore.  The winter lodge will be used for overnight stays, and during the annual Ojibwe Winter Games for the telling of sacred Wenabozho stories.  A dedication ceremony is scheduled for January 14th.

PRESS RELEASE January 6, 2015:
Ojibwe Winter Lodge Opening Ceremony, January 14, 12:00 pm, YMCA Camp Nawakwa (PDF)

Feature written by CCHE Research Ambassador Tim Frandy, PhD




November 2014 feature

book cover

Thanks to the generous support of The Aetna Foundation and Meharry Medical College, Johns Hopkins University Press has just published a new book on obesity interventions in underserved communities in the U.S. Obesity Interventions in Underserved Communities: Evidence and Directions is edited by Virginia M. Brennan, Skiriki K. Kumanyika, and Ruth Enid Zambrana and features a chapter by CCHE Director Alexandra Adams, MD, PhD; Kate A. Cronin, MPH; and the Healthy Children Strong Families (HCSF) Community Research Group.

The book starts with comprehensive scholarly reviews mapping what is known of this landscape (especially strong on children, African Americans, and Latinos), and moves on to fascinating commentaries on such diverse subjects as obesity/overweight and public safety and the military, and how best to measure healthy weights and weight disparities.

According to Editor Ginny Brennan: The meat of the book is 21 Reports from the Field describing a host of interventions from every corner of the U.S. We learn about an entrepreneurial high school students selling fresh vegetables, about dance classes run in churches, migrant middle-schoolers as videographers, about science curriculums, and urban women’s walking groups. We fly from Idaho to Hawaii to American Indian tribes in Wisconsin to the U.S.-Mexico border, to the South Bronx, and to rural Appalachia (and many places in between). We visit mobile markets, homeless shelters, a school for people who are developmentally disabled, hospitals, and public housing projects. We hope everyone seeking to improve the health of an underserved group will find one or more ideas that fit their circumstances and inspire them towards creating Fit, Fine, and Fabulous communities (in the words of one of the contributors).

“This was a terrific opportunity to share some of the work being done here in Wisconsin, and highlight the tribal community – academic partnerships that the University has sustained now for more than a decade.  I am also immensely pleased about being able to bring visibility to the issue of obesity in Indian Country.” – Alex Adams, MD, PhD

The book is available via Amazon and Johns Hopkins University Press.




Summer 2014 Feature

NACHP faculty and affiliates pose for pictures with the graduates.

NACHP faculty and affiliates pose for pictures with the graduates.

The Native American Center for Health Professions at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) recently celebrated two students who graduated with their medical degrees! Robert Kagigebi (Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe) and Joshua Sayler (Arikara) are two students who inspired Dr. Erik Brodt, NACHPs founding Director, to establish a center specifically focused on the needs of our American Indian communities.

The graduation celebration occurred at the home of John Herm and Teresa Brandabur.  Dr. Herm is a physician colleague to Dr. Brodt at Meriter Hospital, and he was delighted to host guests at his local farm.  In attendance were students, SMPH faculty and staff, NACHP Advisory Council members, tribal representatives and other NACHP supporters.

Students and their families were recognized for the hard work and dedication that each have put in over the years towards their education and careers. Dr. Andrew Thundercloud (Ho-Chunk Nation) provided our keynote address. Dr. Thundercloud received his medical degree from University of New Mexico, and shared his experiences in the military and serving in the Vietnam War as a Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class. He also talked about the importance of giving back and recognized all of the education he received outside of the classroom from elders such as his grandparents.

The Thundercloud Singers from Madison, Wisconsin provided welcome and honor songs for the event, and our graduates were honored with Pendleton Blankets, which were presented by family members and faculty mentors.

Congratulations Bobby and Joshua!!!

Guests at the NACHP Graduation dined at the local farm of John Herm and Teresa Brandabur.

Guests at the NACHP Graduation dined at the local farm of John Herm and Teresa Brandabur.


Ojibweg Bibooni-Ataadiiwin

March 2014 Feature


Lac du Flambeau 7th grade boys celebrate a great game of lacrosse!

CCHE was a proud co-sponsor of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Language Program’s 3rd Annual Ojibweg Bibooni-Ataadiiwin (Ojibwe Winter Games), held this past February.  Designed to create new avenues for exercise during the long winter months of Wisconsin’s far north, this week-long event is a revitalization of traditional Ojibwe competitive wintertime sports, games, and activities for 4th-8th graders at the Lac du Flambeau Public Elementary School. Approximately 120 Ojibwe students participated in the Games.  Fifteen community volunteers helped run the games, assisted by a 12-person team from UW-Madison (including faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduates).

Students spent mornings rotating through a series of traditional games: snowshoe races, the hoop and spear game, atlatl throwing, and snowsnake throwing.  Each game involves students learning about techniques of and changes within ancestral hunting traditions, central even today to the identity and informal economy of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe.  Some of these games, like snowsnake throwing– a game based on a type of spear that was slid across a snow crust–had not been played in Lac du Flambeau for some seven generations, until it was brought back to the community at the 2012 Ojibweg Winter Games.

Afternoons included archery, pellet gun shooting (with the Tribal Police), and learning about fur trapping with the Wisconsin DNR, and learning about wintertime fish spearing.  Students also participated in the first game of traditional lacrosse (using student-made lacrosse sticks) in Lac du Flambeau since 1910, when a team from Bad River visited and defeated the Lac du Flambeau team.  Ojibweg Winter Games organizer Wayne Valliere noted, “I don’t think that would happen today.”

Intentionally designed to address the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness of Ojibwe youth, the wildly-popular Winter Games builds upon broaden-and-build and resilience theory, utilizing transformative positive experiences as means to counter adverse childhood experiences and the ongoing condition of historical trauma in Native communities.  “By seeing their own culture in a whole host of positive ways,” CCHE outreach specialist Tim Frandy explains, “it helps students build strong social relationships with their friends and their community.  Students who feel good about themselves, their identity, and their community are more likely to make healthy life choices.”

Wayne Valliere explains, “These games are all about health.  It gets our kids outside during the long winter and teaches them some traditional games they can play at home.”  Such “purposeful exercise” is an important means of physical activity in rural communities as well as an avenue to procure healthy, wild foods through the traditional practices of hunting, fishing, and gathering.

The Ojibweg Winter Games were sponsored by the generosity of a number of partners: the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Language Program, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, the Lac du Flambeau Youth Funds, YMCA Camp Nawakwa, the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the UW Collaborative Center for Health Equity, the UW Department of Family Medicine, the UW Department of Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies, the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, the Lac du Flambeau Police Department, G.L.I.T.C., Lac du Flambeau Cultural Activities, and the Positive Alternative Coalition.

To learn more about the Ojibweg Winter Games, or see photos of the event, feel free to visit its Facebook page.

Or listen to an audio story on the Winter Games featured on Wisconsin Public Radio:


UW PALMA represents at Latino Medical Student Association

February 2014 feature

PALMA group photo at LMSA conference

UW-Madison was well-represented at the January 2014 LMSA conference in Evanston, IL between current PALMA members and alumni

CCHE was delighted to sponsor the UW Madison Professional Association of Latinos for Medical School Access (PALMA) student organization’s recent trip to attend the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) conference in Evanston, IL. Established in 2008, PALMA provides resources for, but not exclusively to, Latino/a students at the UW who are interested in medicine and/or a medical career. PALMA members are committed to expand the participation of groups who have traditionally been underrepresented in the health profession fields.

The 2014 LMSA Midwest Conference, “Advancing the Front Line: Latino Physicians Across All Specialties” was co-hosted by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Family Medicine Residency on January 18-19th. A group of 17 undergraduate student members of PALMA were able to attend the conference.  PALMA members Christian Hernandez and Santiago Chavez report “…this event continues to be one of the student organization’s favorites of the year. Students greatly enjoy the chance to attend inspiring sessions, network with PALMA alumni from the Midwest, meet medical school admissions officers, and gain exposure to the wealth of medical campuses in the Chicagoland area.”

PALMA member Christina Duarte shared: “It’s absolutely amazing what a simple conference like LMSA can do for a person in bringing everyone all together. This year, many new students came, most of which were freshmen. It was refreshing to see them all interact with one another, form new friendships and bonds with the PALMA members, and show their curiosity at the conference. I was so proud to see them talking to others outside of UW-Madison, asking questions, and making the best out of the experience!”

CCHE was particularly interested to hear more about the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine’s acceptance of applications from DREAMers, students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration status. Thank you UW students for representing at the conference!

PALMA logo


Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture

January 2014 feature


A recent project that attracted a great deal of interest is the “Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture” CCHE sponsored program. This program was designed to teach Native youth about the traditional craft of birchbark canoe building. By participating in this program, Native youth were engaged in purposeful exercise, building positive relationships with each other and with UW faculty and staff, and using traditional knowledge and methodology to encourage students to live a balanced and healthful life.

These Canoes Carry Culture was led by Wayne “Mino-Giizhig” Valliere, an Ojibwe teacher, artist, and community leader from Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin and coordinated through CCHE via Research Ambassador Tim Frandy.

To learn more about this incredible project, please read the UW homepage feature article.
You can also check out the official project blog, featuring videos and pictures of the entire process from the woods of Northern Wisconsin to the shores of Lake Mendota.

LdF kids with canoe Lac du Flambeau kids with the canoe in the UW workshop!

Lac du Flambeau kids with the canoe in the UW workshop!