Dr. Alex Lightfoot

Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD

Associate Professor
Department of Health Behavior
Director of Community Engagement and Training CORES
Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (CDC Prevention Research Center)
Co-Director, Community and Stakeholder Engagement
North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS)


Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD, uses a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, collaborating with communities across North Carolina and beyond to address health disparities and advance health equity. She is an associate professor in the Department of Health Behavior, where she is a founding member of the department’s Equity Task Force. 

Lightfoot has taught many courses while at Gillings, including Developing, Implementing, and Evaluating Public Health Solutions in the MPH Core, Foundations of Health Equity, Social Justice and Human Rights in the EQUITY concentration and a previous Foundations course in the Health Behavior department. Currently, she teaches a graduate seminar on CBPR and photovoice, as well as a core course in the pan-university Graduate Certificate in Participatory Research program. She has taught undergraduates through her leadership of the Honors Study Abroad Program in Cape Town, South Africa and will be teaching a new undergraduate course, Community Engagement and Assessment to Advance Health Equity and Social Justice, starting in spring 2023.

In her roles as director of the Community Engagement and Training Cores at the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and co-director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement at NC TraCS, Lightfoot provides consultation and technical assistance to investigators and their partners to promote CBPR and build sustainable and equitable research partnerships. She has extensive experience using participatory and arts-based approaches, including photovoice, to engage partners (with an emphasis on youth) in the research process and inform community-driven intervention development, implementation and evaluation.

Alexandra Lightfoot in the Gillings News

Honors and Awards

Delta Omega Public Honorary Public Health Society Faculty Award
2020, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Teaching Innovation Award
2019, Department of Health Behavior. UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health

Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar
2016 - 2018, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas A. Bruce Award of Honor for Leadership in Community-Based Public Health
2015, Community-Based Public Health Caucus, American Public Health Association

Representative Courses

HBEH 700 | Syllabus

HBEH 704 | Syllabus

HBEH 710 | Syllabus

Research Activities

Cardiovascular disease
Child health and development
Global health
Health behavior
Health disparity reduction
Health policy
Minority health
Sexually transmitted diseases

Key Publications

Developing an antiracist lens: Using photography to facilitate public health critical race praxis in a foundational MPH course. Lightfoot, A. F., Efird, C. R., & Redding, E. M. (2021). Pedagogy in Health Promotion, 7(4), 317-326.

Expanding the Reach of an Evidence-Based, System-Level, Racial Equity Intervention: Translating ACCURE to the Maternal Healthcare and Education Systems. Baker, S. L., Black, K. Z., Dixon, C. E., Yongue, C. M., Mason, H. N., McCarter, P., ... & Lightfoot, A. F. (2021). Frontiers in Public Health.

'It’s like you don’t have a roadmap really’: Using an antiracism framework to analyze patients’ encounters in the cancer system. Black KZ, Lightfoot AF, Schaal JC, Mouw MS, Yongue C, Samuel CA, Faustin YF, Ackert KL, Akins B, Baker SL, Foley K, Hilton AR, Mann-Jackson L, Robertson LB, Shin JY, Yonas M, Eng E (2018). Ethnicity & Health.

Establishing and Sustaining New Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Partnerships using the CBPR Charrette Model: Lessons from the Cancer Health Accountability for Managing Pain and Symptoms (CHAMPS) Study. Samuel C, Lightfoot AF, Schaal JC, Yongue C, Black K, Ellis K, Robertson L, Smith B, Jones N, Foley K, Kollie J, Mayhand A, Morse C, Eng E, Guerrab F. (2018). Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 12(1), 89-99.

'What I wish my doctor knew about my life': Using photovoice with immigrant Latino adolescents to explore barriers to healthcare. Lightfoot, A.F., Thatcher, K., Simán, F.M., Eng, E., Merino, Y., Thomas, T., Coyne-Beasley, T. and Chapman, M.V. (2017). Qualitative Social Work.
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  • EdD, Administration, Planning and Social Policy Research, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1998
  • EdM, Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1989
  • AB, American History and Literature, Harvard College, 1983