March 13, 2023

Public health and communication go hand in hand. The better we understand how people receive information, the more effectively we can share resources that support their health.

Amma Agyemang-Duah (left) and Rachel Morrow

Amma Agyemang-Duah (left) and Rachel Morrow

To that end, Master of Public Health students Amma Agyemang-Duah and Rachel Morrow are the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s first-ever Public Health Communications Fellows.

The innovative fellowship is the brainchild of Gillings alum and adjunct assistant professor Lisa Macon Harrison, MPH; Associate Dean for Communications and Marketing Matthew Chamberlin; and Associate Dean for Practice John Wiesman, DrPH.

They launched the pilot program with support from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, which was awarded to Macon Harrison in her primary role as health director of the Granville-Vance District Health Department and representative for all seven local health departments (LHDs) within North Carolina’s Region 7.

The fellows will bring a student perspective to the Gillings School’s existing communications efforts, pitching research and project ideas based on their own interests combined with the top priorities of partners in the Region 7 LHDs. (Region 7 includes the counties of Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Nash, Vance, Wake, Warren and Wilson.)

“Building a pipeline of public health communicators is so important, and getting this fellowship off the ground is a critical step for that effort at the Gillings School,” Chamberlin said. “I think the aspect of this fellowship that excites me most, however, is the time the fellows and my entire team will spend at local health departments gaining a better understanding of each county’s unique public health imperatives.”

Agyemang-Duah and Morrow began their new roles on January 23. Over the next year and a half, the two students will gain skills in storytelling, social media campaigns, video production, strategic communication planning and more. With guidance from the Gillings School’s entire marketing and communications team, they also aim to deliver tangible results.

Goals for the first year of the Public Health Communications Fellowship include celebrating LHD staff during National Public Health Week, increasing enrollment in a free diabetes prevention program, creating a Region 7 website and boosting new staff recruitment through multimedia stories that promote the vital role of public health workers.

“From my years at the CDC, I know firsthand the importance of having trusted partners — like local health department staff — effectively sharing information with communities,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, dean and Bryson Distinguished Professor in Public Health at the Gillings School. “I’m so excited that this program, which is part of our enhanced plan to support public health practice, will provide timely support to the overburdened staff of our North Carolina health departments while also training the next generation of public health communicators.”

Contact the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

Visit our communications and marketing team page.
Contact with any media inquiries or general questions.

Communications and Marketing Office
125 Rosenau Hall
CB #7400
135 Dauer Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400