Minority public health officials learn to manage crises in new UNC pilot program

February 24, 2004

CHAPEL HILL – Thirty-two minority public health officials from across the United States are learning how to manage in crisis situations through a new fellowship program, “Managing through Turbulent Times: The Kellogg Emerging Leaders in Public Health Fellowship.””We’re living in very turbulent times with what seems like a new public health crisis every week,” said Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., management professor and director of the Kenan Institute’s Urban Investment Strategies Center, a part of Kenan-Flagler Business School. Dr. Johnson initiated the Emerging Leaders program with Dr. Janet Porter, School of Public Health associate dean for executive education and professor of health policy and administration.”In 2001, we had 9/11, then the anthrax scare and now the ricin scare. We’ve had Mad Cow Disease, SARS and bird flu,” says Johnson. “How do public health officials respond to these major public health crises when they don’t have enough resources to tackle the every day routine, much less add something new?”

The Emerging Leaders in Public Health Fellowship program launched as a pilot in February with a grant of $193,646 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. It is designed to help minority public health officials learn to manage information, financial resources and people. The goal is to prepare them for the challenges they face so they can better serve the public.

The 10-month fellowship features a mix of on-site and distance learning instruction by top faculty at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and School of Public Health. The sessions are designed to build skills in the three target areas by capitalizing on experiential-based learning strategies, including simulations, group work and small group peer learning.

“It is important that these leaders get to practice these skills, not just hear about them in a class. Throughout the fellowship program, we constantly strive to give them experience with implementing the skills we are teaching, whether that is while we are physically together or working at a distance,” notes Fellowship Director Dr. Claudia Fernandez of the North Carolina Institute for Public Health.

The program targets talented minority public health professionals – African-Americans, Indians and Hispanics – to help meet the nation’s need for a diverse cadre of professionals who can assume leadership of the nation’s public health system as the current leadership of Baby Boomers ages out. “We want to help launch these Emerging Leaders into senior public health leadership roles,” Porter says.

“As we make the transition to the next generation of public health leaders, we want those leaders to look like America,” Johnson says.

For more information visit the Emerging Leaders in Public Health program at www.publichealthleaders.org.

Contact: Kim Weaver Spurr, Kenan-Flagler Business School, (919) 962-8951, spurrk@unc.edu Lisa Katz, School of Public Health, (919) 966-7467, lisa_katz@unc.edu

For further information please contact Lisa Katz by email at Lisa_Katz@unc.edu