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Headshot of Alex Lightfoot

Assistant Professor
Department of Health Behavior
Gillings School of Global Public Health

Alexandra Lightfoot has extensive experience using the community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach in collaboration with communities across North Carolina and beyond, including in global settings. At HPDP, she serves as Director of the Community Engagement, Partnerships, Technical Assistance and Training Cores. She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and Research Services Faculty for the Community and Stakeholder Engagement (CaSE) unit of the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS) Institute, home of UNC’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). In these roles, she provides technical assistance and consultation to build capacity in CBPR, leveraging community expertise to strengthen research partnerships through the charrette community engagement consulting model. As Assistant Professor at Gillings, she instructs graduate seminars on participatory research methods, including photovoice, foundations of health equity, and developing, implementing, and evaluating public health solutions. Her research explores the intersection of adolescent health disparities and educational inequities. She has led studies testing adolescent sexual health and HIV prevention interventions, one working with African American youth and parents in faith settings, and the second piloting an arts-based interactive theater approach in school settings. She was also Co-Investigator on the Accountability for Cancer Care and Racial Equity (ACCURE) study, which used a racial equity framework to reduce gaps in cancer treatment and outcomes between African American and White breast and lung cancer patients, and Project IFE (I’m Fully Empowered), which built a community-academic partnership to adapt an HIV prevention intervention for and with African American women living in public housing communities in collaboration with partners at local universities, the Durham Housing Authority, and CAARE, a community-based organization. She also directed the photovoice component of Envisioning Health, exploring Latinx adolescents’ perceptions of barriers to health as part of a two-pronged visual intervention to reduce implicit bias among health care providers towards Latinx adolescents and their families. Her work has been recognized with the 2015 Thomas A. Bruce Award for Academic Leadership in Community-Based Public Health by the Community-Based Public Health Caucus of the American Public Health Association, a 2016-2018 Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholarship, and the 2019 Innovation in Teaching Award from the Department of Health Behavior. Dr. Lightfoot holds an EdM and an EdD from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy Research.

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