Nettie Coad, a longtime community partner and friend of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) and a leader in the Greensboro community for more than 30 years, died April 10 at the age of 76.
Coad was the executive director of The Partnership Project, a highly interactive process that educates people about the origins of racism, organizes people to develop strategies to undo racism and supports people in the healing process from the damaging effects of racial oppression. The Partnership Project collaborated with HPDP, the UNC Program on Ethnicity, Culture and Health Outcomes and the Moses Cone Health System to form the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative.
The Collaborative has partnered with UNC researchers for two major projects funded by the National Cancer Institute. In 2006 the Cancer Care and Racial Equity Study (CCARES) found that differences in the treatment of African American and white women by the health care system could lead to more African American women ending their breast cancer treatment. A new project, Accountability for Cancer Care through Undoing Racism and Equity (ACCURE), will build on that work to create training opportunities for health care providers to learn about the impact of institutional racism on cancer care.
Eugenia Eng, professor of health behavior and health education in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is the principal investigator of CCARES and ACCURE and collaborated with Coad on many other projects and community workshops.
Eng said that Coad touched the lives of researchers, students and community partners in many ways.
“What made Nettie an incredible woman was how she demonstrated through her life’s work, explained to us through her trainings, and mentored us through her love that there is no separation between the “personal” and “professional” or between the “private” and “public” actions and values we hold,” said Eng.
Coad’s passion was helping people to understand and overcome racism. She led many Undoing Racism trainings through the Partnership Project, and insisted her colleagues receive the training to better understand how to work with communities of color.
She also served as a community expert on two projects focused on increasing community and academic collaboration. Those projects, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, have beenled by Wanda Hunter, former Deputy Director of Research and Operations at HPDP and Alexandra Lightfoot, director of the HPDP Community-based Participatory Research Core in collaboration with the NC TraCS Institute .
Coad would have received the Public Service Award from the UNC-Greensboro, Department of Health and Human Sciences on April 14. Bob Aronson, co-chair of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative, nominated Coad and accepted the award in her honor with other members of the organization.
On April 17, five members of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative and four students from a UNC-Chapel Hill course taught this semester by Alexandra Lightfoot and Geni Eng, will present findings from their Photovoice project on the impact of Undoing Racism training in Greensboro. The ownership of photos and transcripts from this project will be transferred to the Collaborative to continue the legacy of Coad’s work.
Coad co-authored several journal articles with HPDP researchers and presented her research at the American Public Health Association annual meeting last November. Her last co-authored publication will be a book chapter on infrastructure for equitable decision-making for the 2nd edition of Methods in Conducting CBPR for Health.
Coad leaves behind three sons, Bobby, Perry, and James.
Coad’s funeral service was held on Saturday, April 14th, 11am at her son Perry’s church: Love and Faith Christian Fellowship in Greensboro.