APHA Reflections: Lynette Parker

Lynette croppedFrom November 5 to 7, 2017,  members of the Center for Healthy Communities Research Core attended the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, GA. Below, Ms. Lynette Parker, research assistant,  shares some thoughts on her first time attending the APHA meeting.

In general, what was your impression of the event?
APHA was huge. Choosing sessions to attend was difficult due to the diversity of subject matter and approaches. I ended up in sessions on community-based participatory research, violence, exercise, and big data. It was definitely a trove of information and learning.

Tell us about one session or activity that stood out to you?
A couple of things stand out to me. First, I attended a session titled “COmmunity voices: Community member perspectives on community-academic partnerships and CBPR.” Each of the presenters focused on the work of their partnerships and the findings from their research. The final presentation “Research Ethics in the Time of Crisis” really stood out to me as the presenter discussed the development of a Community Ethics Review Board in Flint, Michigan, following the water crisis.  In my opinion, the presentation — and work it is based on — offers an important example of how a marginalized community can have a voice in determining community direction and the research that is conducted within its boundaries.

A second experience was presenting the Research Core’s poster on its process for involving community members in the planning process for disseminating the findings of the Sentinel Surveillance Project. The conversations with others working on community-engaged projects were enlightening. I had a long conversation with a researcher from North Carolina who was doing work with Adverse Childhood Events in North Carolina. We talked about different ways of bringing community members more into projects so that they can help improve the research and interventions.

What are some lessons you learned at APHA?
I don’t know if it was a lesson learned or more of one reinforced, but the many sessions that I attended solidified the importance of community engagement in my mind. From a big data social media project to the Community Ethics Review Board to the improvement of an exercise intervention after user feedback, many of the sessions I attended pointed to the need to learning from those we are working with.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
APHA was very informative if a little overwhelming. It was good to get feedback on the work we are doing.