Forge AHEAD Center Announces Third Cohort of Scholars

Forge AHEAD Center Announces Third Cohort of Scholars

The Forge AHEAD Center (FAC) is pleased to announce the latest recipients of its pilot funding for the third cohort. Four early-stage investigators were selected for their innovative research aimed at improving outcomes for cardiometabolic diseases across Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. This new cohort investigate pressing health challenges like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension in communities that are often underrepresented in research. Pilot and feasibility funding is a cornerstone of FAC’s mission to push forward health equity by providing research that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

We celebrate the Cohort 3 Scholars for their commitment to important health issues. Their projects are critical to the Forge AHEAD Center’s mission to reduce health disparities and promote healthier communities through research.

We’re honored to recognize the following awardees:

  • Jennifer Caldwell, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center – Project: “Linking GAINS: Linking Genetics and Improving Nutrition in Scotlandville”
  • Kaylee B. Crockett, Ph.D., assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham – Project: “Adaptation and Initial Feasibility of a Primary Care-based Dyadic Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Intervention: ‘Heart Care Pairs'”
  • Lama Ghazi, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham – Project: “Post-Emergency Department Discharge Clinic Telehealth Program for Patients with Uncontrolled Hypertension”
  • Amber W. Kinsey, Ph.D., assistant professor at University of Alabama at Birmingham – Project: “An Integrated Intervention to Reduce Cardiometabolic Health Disparities in Black Adults: A Pilot Study Simultaneously Targeting Physical and Financial Health”

To support their research journey, scholars will receive both strategic guidance and mentorship, empowering them to conduct research that’s impactful in their respective domains. This funding underscores Forge AHEAD Center’s dedication to funding projects that have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to reducing health disparities, fostering sustainable, community-focused health initiatives.

We’re eager to see the positive impacts these scholars’ projects will have on advancing health equity and enhancing the well-being of individuals throughout the South.

For more insights into the scholars and their work, please visit the Forge AHEAD Center website.

The next cycle of funding is open for applications. We encourage early-stage investigators who qualify for pilot award funding to apply. Letters of Intent (LOI) are due June 25, 2024. You can find more details about the Pilot Award Program and RFA timeline here.

Our Scholars’ stories: Gazaway empowers high-risk CKD patients with ownership of medical journey

Our Scholars’ stories: Gazaway empowers high-risk CKD patients with ownership of medical journey

Shena Gazaway, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Family, Community and Health Systems in the UAB School of Nursing, explores how to empower high-risk chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients and their caregivers in healthcare settings through her project “Impart multi.”

The project goal is to engage with high-risk patients and their caregivers who progress through kidney disease at a greater rate because of risk factors such as uncontrolled blood pressure and diabetes, says Gazaway.

Black/African Americans with chronic kidney disease and uncontrolled high blood pressure or diabetes face a higher risk of developing severe cardiovascular disease and their kidney disease getting worse more quickly than other racial demographics.

Many factors contribute to this risk, such as socioeconomic barriers. Gazaway’s study specifically focuses on the barrier of access to supportive, informative resources. Healthy outcomes require two-way quality communication between medical teams and the patient or caregiver.

Gazaway says all her work, which has historically focused on end-of-life decision-making, is guided by a group of community advisory members: two who are living with chronic kidney disease, two who are care partners of someone with chronic kidney disease, and one who has experience as a social worker in a dialysis clinic.

While their work has previously focused on end-of-life decision-making, Gazaway says the team expressed passionate interest in taking that concept upstream and finding ways to equip patients and caregivers earlier in the disease timeline. Because of Forge AHEAD Center’s funding mechanism, they can explore this new path with the same concept of decision-making.

Gazaway’s why

As a caregiver to her grandmother-in-law who later died from CKD, this work is deeply personal. “We grew up in a rural setting,” she says, where access was limited.

“Even though we are not in a rural setting in this study, patient activation and conversation are important. Patients and families need to be the drivers of conversation. Patients who are minoritized are often not the drivers of their clinical conversation,” Gazaway says.

“You are the owner of your medical journey. You are the owner of your healthcare experience. I don’t think our health care system does a good job of reminding people of that,” she states.

Her work seeks to change the way many Black/African American communities experience health and healthcare.

Encouraging ownership over medical journey

“Impart multi” consists of education sessions with patients on communication, social support usefulness, or a combination of both. The team wants to understand how educational sessions empowering patients and caregivers can impact decision-making and how patients or caregivers receive support from their medical team.

To teach this personal empowerment, the project focuses primarily on coaching patients and caregivers on how to ask questions. Correspondingly, patients and caregivers learn tactics of how to advocate for themselves in the medical and healthcare setting.

“I want people to know they have permission to ask questions. In some of our pilot work with end-of-life or serious illness, we see people forgetting—when they are in the medical space—that they have the permission to ask questions.”

Educational sessions are delivered to 32 Black/African American adults with stage 3 or 4 high-risk CKD by a lay coach navigator through telehealth or telephone, directly “in the community in people’s homes.”

“We are teaching coping activation, education, and decision-support skills designed to help patients enter an appointment empowered, to talk about what they need and to get the resources they need…We want to enhance communication and the ability to self-manage and enhance self-advocacy at the medical appointment.”

Building momentum

Gazaway says her team plans to share results scientifically and in the community.
She envisions giving patients a one-pager with must-ask questions that help them feel they deserve quality care and will empower them.

Ultimately, the foremost goal is to learn what components of this intervention have the most impact. After the study concludes, Gazaway says they hope to take the most active components to apply for more funding.

Empowering Communities: Dr. Tiffany Haynes’s Innovative Approach to Health Equity

Empowering Communities: Dr. Tiffany Haynes’s Innovative Approach to Health Equity

The Forge AHEAD Center was honored to host Tiffany Haynes, Ph.D., at the University of Mississippi Medical Center this week as part of our scientific seminar series. Dr. Haynes, associate professor in health behavior and health education at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, engaged with FAC members in Jackson, sharing her experiences and insights, further enriching our understanding and commitment to health equity.

Dr. Haynes shared her enlightening presentation, “Fostering Health Equity for Black Men: Insights from the Barbershop Talk Project,” to a hybrid crowd Wednesday. The project, part of the Center for Research, Health, and Social Justice (CRHSJ), is a testament to the innovative approaches required to address health disparities among Black men, focusing on stress management and the reduction of unhealthy alcohol use. Situated in barbershops across Arkansas, this initiative leverages these community hubs to offer early detection and intervention for unhealthy drinking behaviors, tackling significant health risks like cardiovascular disease and cancer. Dr. Haynes emphasized the distinct challenges Black men encounter, stating, “This is important and necessary,” to highlight the vital need for support mechanisms beyond alcohol in addressing the unique stressors faced by this group.

Throughout her presentation, Dr. Haynes imparted lessons learned from implementing the Barbershop Talk project, emphasizing the importance of social justice and community engagement. She candidly shared, “This is not work for the faint of heart,” acknowledging the challenges of navigating a healthcare system not originally designed for such community-centric work. The success of the community-informed SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) model demonstrated the profound impact of tailored, culturally sensitive interventions on individuals and families. Echoing the broader influence of this initiative, a community advocate and supporter of the project shared in a video, “Since I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve had friends and family members looking at me. And older guys saying ‘Man, you still sober? I’m trying to get there.’ To have these older guys looking at me – that says a lot,” highlighting the ripple effect of positive health behaviors within the community.

In alignment with the Forge AHEAD Center’s mission to reduce health disparities and foster equity, particularly in the Deep South, the Barbershop Talk project serves as a shining example of the type of innovative, community-driven research and interventions we aim to support. Dr. Haynes’s approach of incorporating health education and interventions within community settings reflects Forge AHEAD’s commitment to empowering communities toward improved health management. “The model of going to where people are is one that we should use,” Dr. Haynes remarked, advocating for accessibility in health promotion efforts. By spotlighting transformative projects like Barbershop Talk, the Forge AHEAD Center continues to advance its mission, not only enhancing health outcomes but also empowering individuals and families toward a healthier, more equitable future.

View the recording of the presentation below.

Join us at our next seminar in April, where we will host Seth A. Berkowitz, M.D., MPH, associate professor in the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. He will share about “Food Insecurity, Diabetes, and Distributive Institutions.” For more details and registration, please visit this page.

Our Scholars’ stories: Karlson empowers next generation of youth who have Sickle Cell Disease

Our Scholars’ stories: Karlson empowers next generation of youth who have Sickle Cell Disease

Cynthia Karlson, Ph.D., vice chair of Pediatric Research at University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), is leading a study to promote wellness through exercise and physical activity for adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is the most common genetic condition in the world, affecting over 100,000 individuals, predominately Black/African American individuals, in the United States. It is a chronic, disabling, and life-threatening condition.

“Sickle Cell FIT: Increasing Physical Activity in Youth with Sickle Cell Disease” aims to examine the feasibility and safety of strength-training exercise in youth with sickle cell disease, says Karlson. The study works to prevent future cardiometabolic disease correlated with obesity.

“We also aim to gather information from the sickle cell community regarding barriers to physical activity.” Those barriers may include social determinants of health, such as poverty and access to education and health care.

Combatting a concerning trend

Nearly 25% of children and adolescents with SCD are overweight or obese. The increasing rate of obesity in youth with SCD deepens concerns for future cardiovascular disease, pain, metabolic syndrome, and Type II Diabetes.

Karlson explains that the project works directly with adolescents and young adults with sickle cell disease to conduct an exercise trial and monthly wellness group.

The Sickle Cell FIT program includes two arms: Warrior FIT and Community Outreach.

The Warrior FIT 8-week intervention is based on research that suggests moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and low-strain muscle training are most effective for individuals with SCD. The study enrolls 40 patients 12-21 years old into the 8-week pilot feasibility and effectiveness intervention program. Warrior FIT teaches safe exercises that youth can do at home through a combination of in-person and telehealth visits.

Regarding the Community Outreach program, Sickle Cell FIT partners with the UMMC Pediatric Sickle Cell Program and is working to create educational materials on the risk of obesity and benefits of safe exercise.

Additionally, Karlson says, “We will work with community members that work with individuals with sickle cell disease. Community groups include parents of youth with sickle cell, the Mississippi Sickle Cell Foundation Board, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and UMMC Center for Integrative Health.”

Early insight, lifelong impact

When asked how this project impacts the community, she says, “We hope to demonstrate that strength-training is safe, effective, and beneficial for youth with sickle cell disease. We also hope to gain important knowledge regarding the barriers to physical activity within the sickle cell community in Mississippi.”

Karlson’s “why” surrounding her work is to promote better health through exercise and physical activity for this at-risk population. Serving a patient population that has been historically underserved by both the medical and research communities is central to this study.

Ultimately, the research aims to educate the health care system, policymakers, community, and patients regarding the risks related to overweight/obesity. Knowing and sharing the benefits of safe exercise in individuals with SCD can greatly contribute to reducing health disparities in this vulnerable population.

Birmingham Promise interns work with Forge AHEAD Center for the Spring semester

Birmingham Promise interns work with Forge AHEAD Center for the Spring semester

Forge AHEAD Center is proud to host two interns from the Birmingham Promise for a 2024 Spring semester internship, which began on Jan. 22.

Mariah Beamon and Jermya Norris are seniors enrolled at a Birmingham City School. Each has a passionate goal of making a difference in medicine and science after graduation. Interning with Forge AHEAD Center offers the students support, experience, and early preparation for their respective fields.

A promise to youth in Birmingham, Alabama

The Birmingham Promise program provides up to four years of tuition assistance for graduates of Birmingham City Schools to attend any public two-year or four-year college or university in Alabama. UAB, the first academic partner of the program, is committed to supporting the Birmingham Promise by facilitating a scholarship for students who are admitted to UAB as first-time, full-time freshmen in the academic year following high school graduation from a Birmingham City School. Announced in 2020, the program has provided $3.4 million in tuition assistance and other support to 800 Birmingham graduates.

A unique aspect of the Birmingham Promise is its internship program that allows Birmingham City Schools seniors to earn $15 an hour while getting job experience and building professional networks.

Paving the way for the future of health care

Mariah and Jermya spend their internship hours on UAB’s campus several days per week. Each says their time with Forge AHEAD Center has helped build connections and learn about research faculty and staff’s education and work. So far, they have met with Kristen Allen Watts, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UAB Heersink School of Medicine Division of Preventive Medicine, and Samantha Hill, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University’s School of Medicine, to discuss career trajectories and experiences.

Both seniors have internship projects dedicated to a topic surrounding health disparities. Mariah, who attends Ramsay IB High School, is focused on a project that researches maternal health and mortality rates in the Deep South. She is pursuing a career in OB/GYN.

Jermya’s project focuses on researching HIV prevention in adolescent populations. During her internship, she met with an HIV researcher and learned about PrEP. A George Washington High School student, she wants to pursue a nursing career.

During the internship, professional development sessions have covered seven core competencies, focusing on aligning passions with future goals. They have spent time aligning their passions with their future goals. They worked with former Community Engagement Core Program Director Adrianne Marbury to create systems that organize their to-do list using the GTD methodology.

The Spring internship lasts until April 19. Forge AHEAD Center, in partnership with the Birmingham Promise Program, is committed to ensuring a positive internship experience to inspire students to pursue careers in public health and contribute to their hometown community.

Pioneering Paths to Maternal Health Equity: Dr. Sharon J. Herring’s Visit Illuminates Solutions at February FAC Seminar

Pioneering Paths to Maternal Health Equity: Dr. Sharon J. Herring’s Visit Illuminates Solutions at February FAC Seminar

The Forge AHEAD Center’s (FAC) Scientific Seminar Series recently featured Sharon J. Herring, MD, MPH, an associate professor at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. In collaboration with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC) and FAC, Dr. Herring’s visit marks a significant stride toward health equity.

The event kicked off with a lunch meeting where Dr. Herring shared her insights with FAC Pilot Award Scholars and Early-Stage Investigators at UAB, including Camille Worthington, Shena Gazaway, and Kaylee Crockett. This precursor set the stage for Dr. Herring’s compelling presentation, “Addressing Maternal Mortality: Advancing Community-Engaged Solutions,” highlighting the urgent need to tackle racial disparities in maternal health outcomes through community-driven solutions.

Our community, especially Black Americans and low-income populations in the Deep South, faces significant health disparities, notably in maternal health. Dr. Herring’s presentation shone a light on hope, featuring initiatives like Project HEAR and Change of HEART, focused on addressing trauma, building trust, and enhancing community engagement in maternal healthcare.

The Forge AHEAD Center is committed to diminishing health disparities through impactful research, education, and direct community engagement. Dr. Herring’s work underscores the significant impact of our collective efforts, pushing us closer to a future where health equity is not just an ideal but a reality.

Dr. Herring’s insights emphasize the urgency of the Forge AHEAD mission beyond maternal health, calling for systemic changes and community-driven solutions across all aspects of health equity. This collaborative endeavor is crucial in addressing the health disparities that plague our communities, highlighting the importance of informed action and advocacy for a healthier future for everyone.

View the recording of the presentation below.

Join Us for the Next Seminar: Your participation is crucial in driving our mission forward. Learn how you can be part of the change at our upcoming March seminar event. For details and registration, please visit this page.

NIH Director visits UAB; connects with Forge AHEAD Center leadership

NIH Director visits UAB; connects with Forge AHEAD Center leadership

Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health, joined UAB Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine UAB Department of Surgery Grand Rounds as the keynote speaker for the Kirby I. Bland Endowed Lectureship Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Bertagnolli’s presentation discussed concerning trend of declining health in the U.S. population, emphasizing the NIH’s commitment to seeking and applying knowledge to enhance and lengthen life for all Americans.

She highlighted that rising mortality rates among working-age adults are driven in part by cardiometabolic diseases, underscoring the urgent need for initiatives like Forge AHEAD Center to address these pressing health disparities.

In her keynote address, Bertagnolli emphasized the importance of community engagement and patient-centered research in advancing health outcomes. She said that “patients are partners in discovery,” and highlighted the significance of involving communities in every stage of the research process.

During the NIH Director’s visit, she met with various leaders across UAB throughout the day. Andrea Cherrington, M.D., MPH, MPI of Forge AHEAD Center, and Michael Mugavero, M.D., lead of the Investigator Development Core, had the opportunity to connect with Bertagnolli during her time on campus.

Cherrington presented on cardiometabolic risk and outcomes in Alabama and beyond. Mugavero shared insights into Alabama’s high burden of chronic diseases and how Forge AHEAD Center is addressing health disparities in the Deep South. He emphasized the importance of expanding funding for existing centers like Forge to leverage current resources and make a greater impact in the health equity space.

Check out our photo gallery below.

Our scholars’ stories: Myers explores a weight loss intervention at the intersection of food insecurity and excess body weight in women

Our scholars’ stories: Myers explores a weight loss intervention at the intersection of food insecurity and excess body weight in women

Candice A. Myers, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor of Population and Public Health Sciences at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at LSU and director of the Social Determinants and Health Disparities Laboratory, is pioneering a project aimed to help women who experience both food insecurity and excess body weight.

Her project, TARGETing Health Weight Loss in the Context of Food Insecurity Pilot and Feasibility Trial II, will test a weight loss intervention for women with excess body weight who are experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity, or the lack of sufficient food in both quality and quantity for an active and healthy life, is a pressing health issue in the United States, with over 18% of adults being food insecure.

“Food insecurity is a risk factor for multiple chronic diseases, including obesity,” says Myers.

“Importantly, both food insecurity and excess body weight are significantly linked in women. Research efforts are needed to address and mitigate this health disparity.”

Myers’ “Why”

Myers says that as a sociologist, she has actively pursued an academic health researcher career by seeking a deeper understanding of the “concomitant influence” of sociological and biological mechanisms that shape disparate health outcomes.

“A key theme that underlies my entire research career to date is an explicit focus on disparities, socioeconomic disparities during my graduate training, and health disparities during my postdoctoral training.”

For Myers, postdoctoral training provided an opportunity to research obesity, where she discovered food insecurity as a pressing health issue, particularly about obesity.

“Calling upon my graduate work in both food stamp program participation and poverty, I focus on food insecurity as a risk factor for poor health and source of health disparities.”

A better future for women experiencing food insecurity

Myers’ project will provide novel data on a weight loss intervention tailored for women who face the dual burden of food insecurity and body weight, which impacts their overall health and quality of life.

The TARGET intervention is being developed using data from a sample of key stakeholders from the local Baton Rouge community: women who experience both food insecurity and obesity. In focus groups, they will offer information on their wants and needs for weight loss.

The goal of the current pilot study is to test the TARGET intervention. This study will enroll 15 food-insecure women (ages 18-65) with obesity, where all participants receive the tailored weight loss intervention. The 12-week intervention includes weekly individual intervention sessions. The primary outcome will be a change in body weight across 12 weeks.

Participants will receive scales in-home to obtain weekly body weight in tandem with weekly intervention sessions. Secondary outcomes will be assessed using validated questionnaires.

Researchers, public health officials, and local community members will also benefit from this preliminary work by laying the groundwork for future studies.

This study has significant public health implications by addressing psychological mechanisms that can be targeted to mitigate the adverse relationship between food insecurity and obesity and reduce health disparities in vulnerable populations.

Get to know our new communications specialist

Get to know our new communications specialist

Forge AHEAD Center is proud to announce Chris Campos has joined the Forge AHEAD Center team as communications specialist.

Campos role is based on UAB’s campus. Prior to his new role, Campos worked at Legacy Prep Charter School in Birmingham where he managed district technology and communications, focusing on student recruitment and data management. Prior to that, he worked for Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

“My roles at Legacy Prep Charter School and Clarksdale Collegiate Public Charter School were pivotal in developing my expertise in brand promotion, strategic planning, and community outreach, enriched further by my skills in graphic design and data analysis to support marketing campaigns and organizational growth,” Campos says.

Campos says he enjoys the many complexities of communications work. From disseminating a groundbreaking initiative, explaining a complex solution, or making information accessible, “the success of these endeavors hinges on effective communication.”

“What I love most about working in communications is the fundamental role it plays in bridging connections between people and the resources or information they need.”

In the realm of health equity, Campos believes effective communication is essential. “It’s about ensuring that vital health information and services reach those who need them most, without barriers,” he says.

“To me, communications is not just about transmitting messages; it’s about fostering understanding, facilitating access, and ultimately, knitting together the fabric of a community by ensuring everyone is informed, involved, and empowered.”

When asked why working in health equity is meaningful to him personally, Campos replies: “Working in health equity is profoundly important and meaningful to me because it aligns with my lifelong commitment to serving the public and engaging in work that makes a tangible impact on communities. My background in non-profit settings, the public utility industry, and public education has instilled a deep appreciation for initiatives that strive for equity and access for all, particularly among underserved populations.”

Campos says the industry transition from public education to the health equity and research represents a natural extension of his desire to advocate for fairness, leveraging his experiences and growing knowledge in public health to contribute to the critical task of addressing and reducing health disparities.

“This role not only resonates with my values, Campos says, “but also offers a compelling opportunity to apply my skills in new ways, supporting efforts that ensure everyone, regardless of their background, has equal access to healthcare services and the opportunity to lead healthy lives.”

Campos, who’s native to Texas but lived in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, says his roots run deep in the South. “I love to spend time with my wife and two-year-old son. Being a father is one of the most life-giving things I’ve ever experienced. Also, I am a distance runner and involved locally with the Birmingham Track Club. I ran my first marathon last Fall and already planning for the next. I love coffee (I’m one of those that does a pour over every morning) and spending time outside.”

We are glad to have Chris on board and welcome him whole-heartedly to the team.

Community Advisory Board member spotlight: Brooke Floyd

Community Advisory Board member spotlight: Brooke Floyd

Since January 2022, Brooke Floyd has served as a Forge AHEAD Center Community Advisory Board member, representing Jackson, Mississippi. For over 20 years, Brooke has worked in the Jackson community ensuring children are able to receive a quality education and the support they need to be successful.

Brooke is director of the JXN People’s Assembly, a program in the People’s Advocacy Institute, where she engages the community through education on issues, providing access to information and resources, facilitating People’s Assemblies, and helping the community bring proposed solutions to elected officials.

“Through People’s Assemblies true change is possible, for our communities, giving our children a fighting chance,” Brooke says.

The Forge AHEAD Center communications team sat down with Brooke to get to know her and better understand her role as a Community Advisory Board member.

Q: Tell us about your background and current work.

I worked in children’s education for over 20 years. I taught elementary school, HeadStart, and directed a children’s program at a local non-profit in Jackson called Stewpot Community Services. The program provided a free after school and summer camp for children in Jackson.

Currently, I am the Director of JXN People’s Assembly Initiatives which is a part of People’s Advocacy Institute. JXN People’s Assembly aims to increase community access to information, to government, and to increase community engagement and voice in government decisions. We hold People’s Assemblies with community to provide residents a space to receive information, discuss the issues relevant to them, and to develop solutions to solve the issues. The solutions can then be made into programs (almost all of People’s Advocacy Institute’s programs were developed through People’s Assemblies) or if needed taken to the appropriate government level to try and be made into policy.

Q: How does your work with the People’s Advocacy Institute and Stewpot align with the work of Forge AHEAD Center?

I think all three are working to help alleviate the gap between those that have and those that don’t. People’s Advocacy Institute aims to create a more just society by building community capacity and governing power through helping those who are often most harmed by an unjust system. Stewpot cares for people by providing their most basic needs, food, clothing, housing, and most importantly love.

The Forge AHEAD Center focuses on the health disparities all the groups of people PAI and Stewpot work with and provide services for. We may be in different subsets, but we are part of a much larger purpose, to help people in our area that are constantly left out of the equation. We all want to ensure that everyone is able to not only live but thrive.

Q: What excites you most about working with Forge AHEAD Center?

I love learning about the research and the potential outcomes. I am excited to see what can happen, when the right people, minds, and resources work together for the greater good.

Q: What are some of your goals within the Jackson, MS community for 2024?

There are several issues I am working on, but one main goal is to have a public water system that includes community input and supplies Jackson residents with clean drinking water.

I am also looking forward to our Youth Action Initiative which will help to train young people around the issues that are important to them and get them involved in the electoral process. Of course, I always have the goal of engaging more Jackson residents, keeping them informed and helping them to become part of the electoral process.