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VCU Center on Society and Health

Richmond, Virginia

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Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

ASTHO

Arlington, Virginia

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Director
VCU Center on Society and Health
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Details

Posted: 01-Sep-21

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Type: Full Time

Required Education: Doctorate

Categories:

Academic / Research

Sector:

College / University

Internal Number: F67490

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About VCU Center on Society and Health
The Center on Society and Health (CSH) was chartered by the VCU Board of Visitors in 2007. Its mission, which has evolved since its inception, is to raise awareness about the importance of factors outside of health care that shape health outcomes and to explore ways to improve population health and wellbeing. Its vision statement speaks of opening “the doors of opportunity for all members of society and creating partnerships that work across sectors to help stakeholders discover aligned incentives and together advance health equity.”CSH is at the forefront of a new era that is engaging the nation, policymakers, and communities in addressing population health and reducing inequities. The CSH team has refined its skills in bringing data and evidence to decision-makers in all settings and has established itself as a “go-to” resource for diverse audiences, from members of Congress to mayors, from business leaders to grassroots organizations, and from academic researchers to students. The new Director has an exciting opportunity to guide the vital work of this Center into a new decade of progress in confronting challenges as new as climate change and as old as racism. A challenge that h...as shaped the mission of CSH is that the supporting science sought by key stakeholders is often limited, and what is offered up by the public health community and academia is often oblique to the chief concerns of decision-makers. The key questions chosen by investigators and funders may not always align with the information priorities of stakeholders who are in a position to address the social determinants of health, nor are the findings always presented in a form that is useful for, or relevant to, the decisions at hand. This disconnect is a problem particularly for population health, where the change agents who can make the biggest difference in improving health behaviors and social and environmental conditions are generally nonscientists outside of the health professions. To persuade an audience that does not read scientific journals, strong science may not be enough to elicit change. And to achieve change in reducing inequities, skills in communicating the evidence become crucial in an increasingly polarized society.Tackling issues of race and racism is both a challenge and a unique opportunity in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where the first enslaved Africans arrived 400 years ago, and in Richmond, a former center of the slave trade that once served as the capital of the Confederacy. In the city of Richmond in 2020, African Americans are a majority minority population and are active participants as the community, along with the Commonwealth and nation, grapples with systemic racism and the agenda of dismantling policies of exclusion. CSH is fully engaged in that work and prizes the racial diversity and community engagement of its team. CSH teams are regularly composed of experts in science and experts in communities of interest. We bring data and policy together with the lived experience of marginalized populations and communities and work to give voice to those who have been historically disenfranchised.The Center on Society and Health brings a unique approach to its work by blending four ingredients for success:1.User-oriented research: scientific scholarship directed at delivering actionable and policy-relevant findings and evidence sought by decision-makers2.Policy outreach: active efforts to meet with decision-makers in all sectors to gain deep familiarity with the decision-making environment, priorities, and language3.Stakeholder and community engagement: engaging with affected populations and other stakeholders with intimate understanding of priorities, context, key questions, and feasible solutions4.Strategic communication: an organized effort to identify target audiences and prepare materials and media in a tailored format that is engaging and accessible to the audienceThe integration of these elements has defined the Center’s “brand” and shaped its approach to meeting the needs of its stakeholders, clients, and sponsors. The new Director has an opportunity to reaffirm or adapt the CSH brand to address today’s challenges.CSH makes important contributions to the field of population health in three broad areas:1. Scholarship CSH has fully embraced mixed methods, with expertise in quantitative and qualitative research. Its quantitative research skills build on the fundamentals of social epidemiology and have broken new ground in applying advanced computational methods to answer driving policy questions or create impactful statistics that can shift public opinion. For example, CSH is a national leader in analytic methods for studying place-based determinants of health, such as calculating life expectancy at the census tract level, and has mastered the translation of data into public-facing tools, notably our nationally recognized life expectancy maps. We have broken new ground in expanding our research footprint into policy translation. For example, we have used advanced computational methods to create the Healthy Places Index (HPI), a tool that officials are now using in the state of California and Metropolitan Washington D.C. to identify at-risk neighborhoods and prioritize investments, programs, and policy--such as pandemic response.The CSH team includes social scientists and others with experience in conducting qualitative research, from surveys to focus groups, key-informant interviews, and field research within communities. CSH is also a national leader in community-engaged research (CEnR), having achieved early recognition in 2011 for Engaging Richmond, an ongoing community-university partnership that has since served as a model for authentic community-based engagement. CSH faculty developed the “SEED Method for Stakeholder Engagement in Question Development,” which has been funded twice by The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), including a 3-year “Improving Methods” award and a 2-year capacity building award to disseminate the SEED method nationwide, and the SEED Toolkit is hosted on PCORI’s website. The SEED method has been featured in multiple peer-reviewed publications, and we receive regular requests from researchers for guidance on including the SEED Method in grant applications and studies.2. Research Translation CSH has expertise and unique capacity in research translation, or what NIH calls translational or “dissemination and implementation” (DI) research. Our methods for communicating science to policymakers and other stakeholders who can act on the evidence have been the subject of peer-reviewed papers. The work has attracted interest from academic colleagues who share similar goals but lack the experience, resources, or communication staff to produce high-quality issue briefs, infographics, interactive web tools, or videos. We have learned how to employ all of these methods to present our research, or other evidence from the scientific literature, in formats and venues that are useful and persuasive to change agents. Recent examples include the use of our Healthy Places Index by policymakers in California to shape its COVID-19 reopening plan, Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and by officials in Northern Virginia (e.g., Fairfax and Arlington County) to inform health equity initiatives. We have been commissioned by state agencies, computing the economic burden of the opioid epidemic for the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and developing an index for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (VDBHDS) to fund the state’s 40 Community Service Boards. Locally, our recent work has informed public housing redevelopment, early childhood programming in Richmond, and has helped policy makers address the opioid crisis in Martinsville, VA. And we have acquired a large media presence, frequently being featured in front-page articles in major newspapers, network news, and social media and increasingly contacted by reporters seeking interviews or answers to key questions.3. ServiceThe service mission of CSH is extensive and operates at multiple levels:•University: CSH receives support and has a longstanding commitment to the institutions, employees, and students of VCU. Its team serves on committees and task forces to improve programs at VCU and conducts research and analytic work for the VCU Health System. As a Center committed to interdisciplinary research, CSH has held a longstanding commitment to building ties across campus and bridging the talents of the health professional schools of VCU with other colleges and departments in disciplines related to the social determinants of health. CSH is also a key partner with the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and leads its community engagement efforts.•Neighborhood: CSH is widely recognized for its work in the East End of Richmond, a nearby community with a diverse population facing longstanding socioeconomic challenges. Its flagship project, Engaging Richmond, is a community-academic partnership that has engaged residents—many of them low-income families, people of color, or residents of public housing—as coequal partners in addressing health challenges that they have prioritized. Working shoulder to shoulder with residents, CSH has conducted a portfolio of projects over many years that empower residents to give voice to their needs and engage service providers, community organizations, and local leaders in addressing issues such as housing, jobs, violence, and early childhood education. •Metropolitan: CSH has developed strong ties to local government in metropolitan Richmond, including the mayor’s office and city council, and to regional groups like the Capitol Region Collaborative. CSH faculty and staff work closely with the Richmond City Health District and the local health department and have close ties with local funders such as the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. In addition, CSH conducts studies in other localities within and outside of the region, including an opioid action planning project in Martinsville/Henry County in southern Virginia and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and health equity projects in Northern Virginia.•State: Located across the street from the statehouse, CSH values its proximity to state government and has cultivated relationships with the governor’s office and state agencies. As a center committed to the translation of research into policy, it has maintained close ties with the state health commissioner and with many officials at the Virginia Department of Health. CSH faculty and staff have also worked closely with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services over the past two years, helping them develop metrics to use as part of new funding strategies for the 40 Community Service Boards that provide mental health services across the state. These close relationships give CSH unique access not only to state officials but also valuable data sets that position it to conduct work that serves the needs of decision-makers in both the executive branch and the General Assembly. •National: CSH is recognized nationwide for its expertise and is often called upon to serve on projects with national implications. For example, CSH Director Emeritus Dr. Steven Woolf wrote the first chapter of a recently released report by the U.S. Surgeon General and served on a National Academy of Sciences committee addressing the increase in working-age mortality. CSH has also been called upon by medical journals like JAMA to examine the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. death rates. Both CSH faculty and community residents have appeared on Capitol Hill to testify at U.S. Senate hearings. CSH continues to work with NIH, CDC, and other health agencies, as well as national public health organizations based in Washington, D.C.
Connections working at VCU Center on Society and Health
https://govphcareers.astho.org/jobs/15365986/director
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