The Pivot with Elise Lockamy-KassimElise Lockamy-Kassim advocates for people’s opportunity to live to their fullest potential.

Number 1

What’s your role in public health?

I serve as the assistant vice president for community health at the Center for Health Equity at Wellstar Health System, which is headquartered in Marietta, Georgia. As a nonprofit health system built from community hospitals, Wellstar cares for the health and well-being of every person we serve.

Elise (second from left) smiles with colleagues in front of the Goodr Bus. (Contributed photo)

Elise (second from left) smiles with colleagues in front of the Goodr Bus. (Contributed photo)

My work is founded by our triennial community health needs assessment. In my role, I activate internal strategic priorities and community-based initiatives that align with our communities’ priority health needs. In 2022, we identified access to care, behavioral health, food access, housing, pediatrics and women’s health as target domains. My team and I routinely partner with community-based organizations like Goodr, Co., Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia and Ser Familia, among others. We also leverage relationships with academia, government and similar health care organizations to close gaps for historically medically underserved communities.

I am an advocate. I serve on the board of directors of the Empowerment Resource Center (ERC), a nonprofit community clinic committed to closing gaps in access to care for patients from all walks of life. ERC’s boots-on-the-ground approach ensures sex workers, college students, men who have sex with men and other priority populations receive health care with dignity. As a board member, I am tasked with supporting care innovation, fundraising, visioning, network connections and efficiencies (including financial management).


Number 2

Can you describe your focus area in one sentence?

I am committed to advancing health-benefiting partnerships, programs and policies so that every person has an opportunity to reach their fullest life potential.

Health equity work requires deep community listening, culturally competent and relevant engagement approaches, and flexibility. I partner with senior leaders who prioritize these approaches alongside the delivery of high-quality health care. We are committed to the charge.


Number 3

What brought you to public health?

My collegiate self-discovery highlighted my desire to leverage policy as a tool for improving health outcomes for the most people possible. I spent my early career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a health scientist and project officer for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, I learned that the United States demonstrated the most success in reducing blood lead levels in children when we removed lead from paint and gasoline. Health-benefiting policies enhance our person-to-person wellness approaches.

Both my Georgetown University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill academic experiences centered health policy and management. I cannot boast enough about the depth and rigor of my academic learning and work experiences that influence my current approach to health equity work.


Number 4

How have you pivoted during your career?

Our coronavirus pandemic response engaged our Congregational Health Network (CHN) to partner with faith communities to bring information, testing and vaccination to communities identified as most at-risk. Our success, documented in a forthcoming publication in Progress in Community Health Partnerships, cemented our approach to leveraging networks to improve community health. In addition to the CHN, we leverage a community clinic network, community transformation partner cohort and a forthcoming food access network. Member organizations of these networks have already established trusting relationships with individuals and are open to partnering with anchor institutions – like hospitals and health systems – to share time, talent and treasure.


Number 5

Who are you when you’re at home?

Elise enjoys a night out with her family. (Contributed photo)

Elise enjoys a night out with her family. (Contributed photo)

I am a creative. From the way I prepare meals for my family to my approach to blogging and podcasting, I like to throw color and flavor into my endeavors. My family is happy and loud; we draw from each other’s energy to fuel our connections to one another and the diverse community groups we participate in. Although I spend a lot of time chasing around a toddler, I have not neglected my personal time diving into a good book. My last favorite – Pachinko – shared the epic tale of a family across generations, surviving hardship and promoting betterment; the narrative spoke to my personal mission and commitments.

Read more interviews in The Pivot series.

Published: May 24, 2024

Gillings Admissions: 233 Rosenau Hall, (919) 445-1170
Student Affairs: 263 Rosenau Hall, (919) 966-2499
Dean's Office: 170 Rosenau Hall, (919) 966-3215
Business and Administration: 170 Rosenau Hall, (919) 966-3215
Academic Affairs: 307 Rosenau Hall, (919) 843-8044
Inclusive Excellence: 207B Rosenau Hall, (919) 966-7430
Room Reservations

135 Dauer Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7400