Stephanie Baker selected as academic co-lead for the African American/Black Community Response Team to address COVID-19 in N.C.

The effort is supported by a $12 million award from the National Institutes of Health for outreach and engagement efforts to address the disparities between how ethnic and racial minority communities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As ethnic and racial minority communities have been disproportionately affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Institutes of Health has announced a $12 million award for outreach and engagement efforts to address these disparities. There are 11 research teams across the country who will focus on COVID-19 awareness and education in communities of color. Special focus will be placed on specific counties in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Stephanie Baker, assistant professor of public health studies

The North Carolina Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 is being led by Anissa Vines, assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC- Chapel Hill Gillings School of Public Health, adjunct assistant professor of social medicine at UNC’s School of Medicine and faculty associate at the UNC Center for Health Equity Research, as well as Alan Richmond, executive director of Community-Campus Partnerships for Health at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and Goldie Byrd, director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Stephanie Baker, assistant professor in the Public Health Studies Department at Elon University, has been chosen to serve as an academic co-lead for the African American/ Black Community Response Team (CRT) to address COVID-19 in North Carolina. The Community Response Teams are one area of emphasis within a larger grant to support North Carolina’s I-Team (Increasing Trustworthiness through Engaged Action and Mobilization). Three CRT’s will be established: one focused on African American/ Black communities, one focused on Hispanic/ Latinx communities and one focused on American Indian communities in North Carolina, each with an academic co-lead and community co-lead.

Baker will work closely with community co-lead Kimberly Alexander, co-founder of The Alexander Group, a consulting firm that provides strategic consulting, technical assistance and project management rooted in values of equity, inclusion, and performance.

“Dr. Baker brings added strength to the CEAL NC research team with her expertise in community-based participatory research, health equity, and anti-racism work. She is a stand-out scholar leader who I am pleased to have lead along with her co-lead, Kimberly Alexander, efforts to increase trustworthiness of COVID-19 information in the Black/African American community,” shared CEAL lead principal investigator for NC Anissa I. Vines.

Together, the team will work with local organizations and community partners to address these health disparities and ensure equitable access to resources to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“I am really excited to work with this group to deeply address issues of trustworthiness and the ways in which institutions and structures contribute to lack of trust as it relates to COVID-19,” Baker shared. “This work will be collaborative and connect with key organizations, communities, and individuals already engaged in COVID-related responses.”

The cross-community approach of the Community Response Teams is something that Baker is particularly looking forward to. “Our communities have all been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and there is power in working together,” she shared.