Friday, May 17, 2024

Season 3, Episode 10:

Creating Community-Engaged Solutions as a Public Health Entrepreneur

 In this episode, we’re talking with Dr. Charlotte Huntley, my mentor and friend, about how we are working with organizations to create community-engaged solutions as public health entrepreneurs.

Season 3, Episode 10: Creating Community-Engaged Solutions as a Public Health Entrepreneur

by Dr. Joyee Washington and Dr. Charlotte Huntley


Welcome to the Public Health Joy Podcast — the safe space for real and honest conversations about what it takes to transform public health research into life-changing solutions for our communities. 

I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In today’s episode, we’re talking with Dr. Charlotte Huntley, my mentor and friend, about how we are working with organizations to create community-engaged solutions as public health entrepreneurs.

This is the joy ride you’ve been waiting for. Join us as we revolutionize public health through research done … with … for … and BY our communities. Together, let’s create our Public Health Joy!


Welcome back to your safe space for having honest conversations about what it takes to transform public health research into life-changing solutions for communities. Being an entrepreneur in public health requires a certain drive, a specific skill set, and a well-grounded understanding of what it means to engage communities in order to elevate them.

Dr. Charlotte Huntley has all of the above, and as Dr. Washington’s mentor in public health, she joins us today to share her thoughts on the importance of creating specific solutions that revolve around a community and its people.

Dr. Huntley holds a Ph.D. in Public Health with a specialization in Epidemiology, a Master of Public Health, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research Administration. She transitioned into public health after working many years in healthcare as a medical technologist in hospital laboratories, specializing in diagnostic microbiology and infectious diseases.

Dr. Huntley spearheads today’s conversation as we explore the importance of understanding the transferability of one’s skills, what community-engaged work actually entails, how to find the right community partners, and why building relationships within a community is the best foundation for transformation. We also reexamine what it means to have an equity mindset, why difficult conversations are vital, and how joy can always be found in both the process and the result.

To connect with Guest:

Dr. Charlotte Huntley 

Dr. Charlotte Huntley on LinkedIn

Dr. Charlotte Huntley on X

Dr. Charlotte Huntley on Instagram

Dr. Charlotte Huntley on TikTok 


Links mentioned in this episode: 

Public Health Epidemiology Conversations 

Public Health Entrepreneurs

Walden University 

Hopkins Press 

James and the Giant Peach 


For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit

Key Points

  • How Dr. Charlotte Huntley became an entrepreneur in public health. [02:52]
  • Dr. Washington’s NASA confession. [07:40]
  • The importance of understanding the transferability of your skillset. [09:48]
  • Gaining a better understanding of community-involved work. [13:50]
  • How to find the right partners/organizations for community-engaged work. [21:51]
  • The power of building community relationships and allowing those voices to be heard. [25:17]
  • Defining equity, why it matters, and how to build an equity mindset. [28:18]
  • Why having difficult conversations should be mandatory and not optional. [33:15]
  • The goal of bringing more joy to communities, and how joy can also be found in the process of getting to the solution. [34:30]
  • What brings Dr. Huntley joy in her work. [35:55]

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[0:01:02.5] JW: All right, so, welcome to another great episode of the Public Health Joy Podcast and today, we have – okay, every guest is special but this guest is like the special-est of the special, right? Special, did not really worded like that but you know what I’m saying. So, we have my mentor, fellow podcaster, and dear friend, Dr. Charlotte Huntley, who currently serves as the CEO and principal consultant at Dr. CH Huntley LLC. 


She is a recognized leader in the public health industry as an epidemiologist, as well as host of the Public Health Epidemiology Conversationalist Podcast, and the Public Health Entrepreneurs Podcast. So, Dr. Huntley, I am so excited. I’ve been on Dr. Huntley’s Podcast. So, this is the first time Dr. Huntley has been on my podcast. So, I don’t know, might be fangirling a little bit, just a little bit. 


But Dr. Huntley, go ahead and share with the folks who you are, what you do, what you got going on and we’re going to jump into this conversation.


[0:02:06.7] CH: Yes, thank you for that really warm and very sweet introduction. I’m geeking over here a little bit because I’m like, a little nervous. I’m the guest now, that’s a little different. I’m a huge fan, as you already know, of your podcast and I’ve been in your ear for a long time going, “I’m loving the podcast and can I give you a couple of ideas? Can we talk about this?” and strategy and so, I am just excited to be a guest here. 


I love our conversations, all the time and so, I’m excited to have this conversation on your podcast and talk about whatever it is that touches your heart and however – whatever direction we go, I feel like it’s going to be great.


[0:02:50.8] JW: Yes, absolutely, and one of the things that I think I really want to focus on today is, you know, you and both come from the science world, right? So, in your background, you kind of come from that microbiology world, right? For me, I’m coming from the biomedical sciences and the biology and all of that type of stuff and so, when we’re talking about this transition, right? 


To consulting and entrepreneurship in public health is like, how in the world do we even get here from the lab bench, right? With the pipettes and you know, doing western blots or whatever. I ain’t seen a western blot in I don’t know how long but – 


[0:03:32.3] CH: A little triggering.


[0:03:34.7] JW: How do we even get here? So, tell us a little bit about, what did that transition look like for getting into consulting in entrepreneurship and public health?


[0:03:42.8] CH: Yeah, I love that question and I think that during the time that I was transitioning, I didn’t really realize what was happening while it was happening. It was literally one step at a time and it’s like, “Oh, I can see this.” And then, like, the next step but I had moved from infectious disease work for many, many years to chronic disease work and I moved from healthcare, like you said, microbiology, diagnostic work in the hospital healthcare settings into public health.


And for a long time, I thought of it as, “I’m moving from this, let me close that door, and then let’s move into here.” Now, you know, retrospectively looking back, it’s both, and all of that that experience comes with you. I think coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I’ve always thought a little differently about – I grew up and clearly remember my family could brainstorm an idea because our family will have these get-togethers on the weekend. 


And the next thing I know, we’re having like this business that – and I remember this conversation about this idea, now, they’ve got this business, that naturally happens. So, in my adult life, you know, especially as I started to kind of explore what’s next, it was natural for me to think, “Well, could I make my own path here?” I enjoyed a great career in state government, learned a lot from that, and I worked in private industry, commercial industry, pharmaceuticals. 


I learned so much there, I love the drive of the field of business. I love the corporate feel and I kind of got the best blend of that in science. I felt like I have more to give than I was allowed to give in these roles and you know, so starting to come to think a little creatively came naturally to me. So, it started with a podcast, you know, people are asking a lot of questions and I had the idea, “Well, let me start a podcast and start answering these questions.” 


I didn’t like the heavy academic feel of this thing, the few podcasts that were existing in public health. I thought, “Let me do something a little different, a little more relatable and conversational in answering these questions, and see.” And people were drawn to it. I grew a community really quickly, and so it was just very natural for me to consider the next step in exploring. 


The consulting piece, like, I’m busy focusing on like coaching people, the consulting stuff was just coming to me. Organizations were starting to reach out and ask for my help with different epidemiology-type projects and I was just saying yes, based on, “Well, do I have the capacity to do this?” and then, “Do I get excited about this?” Because, in this world, and when we are entrepreneurs and our own businesses, we get to decide the kind of work that we do. 


So, I filter that through, what can I get excited about and is this working for me? So, it wasn’t an intentional – a lot of people come to me and say, “I want to start a business, I want to do this, how do I get started?” It didn’t start like that for me. I just kept exploring, I landed in this space, I’m thinking, “Oh, I like this, this feels good.” And then, I began to really frame and build out from here.


[0:06:42.9] JW: Yeah, and I think it’s so interesting because I never really thought about it until you just said it but you went from podcasting to consulting, whereas, I’m kind of the opposite. I went from consulting to podcasting, right? And so, there’s so many different areas and avenues to explore consulting and entrepreneurship, and one of the other things that you mentioned was about the freedom, right? 


Having the freedom and being able to choose how you leverage your skills because I know from my experience, just like I said, being from the biomedical sciences world and that’s how I came over to the public health world is I said, “How can I leverage my skills to better serve my community? How can I take the scientific rigor and all this information I’m learning about the human body and how can I get a solution directly to communities to improve health and well-being and what does that look like?”


And when I think about those transferrable skills, right? Now, this is something, I don’t even know if I’ve ever told you this, I literally told my husband this and he was like, “I’ve never heard you talk about that.” And I was like, “I was dating you when I was doing this.” And so, one of the things that in my experience, from, when I was working in biomedical sciences and physiology, I worked for NASA.


[0:08:03.2] CH: What?


[0:08:04.6] JW: Like astronauts, space. I worked for NASA.


[0:08:08.7] CH: You never told me this.


[0:08:11.0] JW: Because I don’t think about it. Like, part of that physiology world was my job as a research assistant was to – we had a computer model and it was a computer model of the human body and they had a different version. There was a computer model of astronauts because it was designed to figure out what happens to the physiology of astronauts in space, and so my job was to go through the computer modeling, collect all the data, run all the different simulations in the computer model, and figure out what happens to the body of an astronaut in a zero-gravity environment.


[0:08:44.9] CH: How do you forget to bring that to a conversation?


[0:08:48.2] JW: Well, I don’t know how you bring that to the conversation. I’m just like, that happened in my life, I did that for quite a while. I actually did that for probably about – I worked for NASA for probably about one or two years working on their project with NASA, and then with the physiology, I did probably about five years or so. That experience and that work shows up for me every day but I just don’t think about it because it’s so ingrained in me. Because otherwise, how would I know how to dig through the data? 


How would I know how to look at different numbers and read between the lines of the data to figure out what’s going on?


[0:09:24.8] CH: Yeah.


[0:09:26.0] JW: Right? And so, I’m over here being a real-life hidden figure and I don’t even really think about it or talk about it. And so in my work, I’m like, “How do I bring that experience to communities and to public health?” And in my community, engaged work is like, even though I did that work with NASA, there were some pieces that were missing from me, right? 


And so, it’s like, how do I pinpoint what those problems are, and then, bring a solution to those problems and I know that’s what I’ve learned from you, right? In the consulting, in the entrepreneurship space is like, what problem do you solve, who are you solving it for, who is your ideal client, what outcome are you leading them to, what results are they going to get? Like, those are the key questions but you got to have the – understand how those skills from whatever walk of life you’ve been on already, what those skills are, and how those skills can be transferrable to the work that you’re doing in the public health space. I know I just left you with a lot, so.


[0:10:31.3] CH: No, that’s great. You know, you remind me of the time of this recording, this journey of this book that I’m writing that’s being published by Johns Hopkins University Press. So, when you go on this traditional book-writing journey, it seems like forever but there’s a lot to learn in that process. But at any rate, part of what I wrote in that book, and it’s about public health entrepreneurs. 


You know, just kind of shedding light on what this means and what the possibilities are, and part of what I talk about is exactly what you just described. Like, while you’re gaining all this valuable experience, you don’t realize the potential and how you may use it but you bring all of that to the table and this consulting world. So, every bit of – like you said, it’s so ingrained, it’s very second nature. 


But that is what makes you so unique, and that perspective, and how you show up for your clients, and now that you’ve told me this whole bit about NASA, I’m making a mental note, we’re going to talk about this in another session, one on one. You know, those are the things that make us so unique and you know, you start feeling that something pushes up against you that says, “You know, I could do this differently or we’re missing this.” 


And you know, you just want to fill that gap and meet that need. So, it’s like, all of that experience, you just bring it with you. You’re just uniquely designed to serve that way. It makes the journey both exciting and a little challenging and frustrating at the same time, you know, that nice mix but it does create that freedom that you talk about, you know? I just don’t know that I could go back to someone else’s structure, having experienced this. 


Like, I have a team and I make sure that we’re building this culture of what I wish I had when I worked for someone else, you know? That’s important.


[0:12:09.0] JW: I tell people all the time, like, I don’t think I could ever go back to a nine-to-five and I’m not saying this business that I’ve set up won’t work out but I say, if it don’t, I’m going to be baking some cookies or something, I’m finding me some other business to do, making candy or whatever. I’ll figure it out but I’m like, I love being able to leverage my skills in the way that I want to because nobody’s going to see my worth or my value better than I do. 


So, it really is – it’s really about taking what I know about myself and what I know about my lived experience and my professional experience and how can I use that in a way that I can solve problems for people, right? And so in my business, I’ve gotten to the point where I know that from my scientific experience and my experience in health education, public health, building community partnerships, that is my strength. 


Like, that is my thing. Data and community, like, that’s my jam, like, that’s like my peanut butter and jelly right there. Like, it goes together like no other and so, helping organizations to build effective and meaningful community partnerships, right? That’s going to lead them to creating these data-informed solutions that’s going to be sustainable, right? To help benefit our communities, that’s the thing that I do. 


That’s the thing that I do well, that’s the thing that I pull from my own experiences because – and I can tell you from the time I was young, community service, community partnerships is what I did. That’s what I was raised on. So, I’m in my 30s, I’m not going to say where in my 30s, I’m in my 30s. So, I have literally had – probably, I could safely say about 30 years community involved work, in some aspect, in some capacity. 


And so, when it comes to these organizations and to academic institutions and nonprofits and all these different types of organizations, a lot of times, you have people who are so far removed from community, right?


[0:14:22.2] CH: Yup.


[0:14:22.7] JW: You have people who are so far removed from the real world, but yet, you want to do research or you got the funding or you know, you got all this stuff going on, you got the projects, and they need to be implemented. They need to be carried out but you don’t have the capacity or the understanding or the skills or the experience to build relationships with the people who are going to be most impacted and most affected by what you’re trying to do.


[0:14:47.9] CH: Yeah, yeah. Well, you and I talk about this a lot, so you know we’re on the same page. One of the things I love so much and I think I advocate, borderline push for you so much is you know, we have this Mississippi connection. You live in Mississippi, you know, I’ve got family in Mississippi, I lived there as a young girl in elementary school age in Mississippi and then for a brief period, as an adult. 


But I’m invested and the people in outcomes and Mississippi and the culture is you know, just like with any other – like every state, region, neighborhood, there’s a little nuance that makes your culture unique. So, the people in Mississippi, the culture of the people in Mississippi, it shifts from different parts of the state. It’s not the same, you know when you’re on the Gulf Coast as it is even in Hattiesburg and Jackson, you know, all of that shifts. 


But what I was going to say is the needs of the people in those areas top the charts, not all the best charts. And same here, I live in South Carolina and we’re very similar. We hit the headline news for lots of problems. Everybody is aware of the water crisis in Jackson, you know? People are aware of the outcomes of some of the issues with hurricanes, you know? Katrina, the one that still comes up, and all the ones. 


I remember Camile was the talk when I was a young girl and some folks, they had been there a long time, you bring up Camile, you’re going to be in a conversation for about two hours.


[0:16:19.5] JW: Oh yeah.


[0:16:19.6] CH: Right? So, like all this nuance, all these challenges, I think that organizations, government from state to county up to federal that have good intentions, they want to see these problems resolved. Even corporations, they get the attention of the needs in Mississippi. They want to see the solution. They want to be a part of the solution but there I such – and then you got the community, right? 


These long-standing, these nuances and these different communities around the state but these long-standing communities, these organizations want to come in and put a quick fix and when they can’t fix it quickly, they’ll lose interest and they’re on to the other thing because maybe economics of the business or they want to put a band-aid on it or they want to come in, they’re all passionate. 


Like, right after the crisis of some sort, or when it hits the news, they’re passionate and they are all in and then something else gets their attention or the funds run out, or something shifts, and they leave but that community is there day in, day out, sun up to sun down. So, there’s a lot of attention between these organizations and these communities and I want you to be like, so highlighted and visible as such a resource because you can bridge that gap.


[0:17:36.0] JW: Yes.


[0:17:36.8] CH: Because some of that information that’s coming from these organizations are only going to be received by the people through that filter, which is an organization like yours. So, I think that there’s such a need, I mean, there’s obviously a need, it’s just a matter of – these organizations really realizing that this is how they can really have a sustainable, see their programs, the investment of their dollars, really becomes sustainable solutions through a filter of an organization and like, the kind of work that you do.


So, you know, I’m fangirling a little bit here now but like for me, it’s like if – when I support you to see you when and you connect with these organizations and you’re helping to serve the people that I care so much about in Mississippi, you know? In a way that I’m not set up to do. So, I think that there is – not everybody can do this. It takes that sort of you know, I’ll say, superpower calling, that drive, that unique positioning that you have. 


It takes that to be able to see these programs be sustainable in the success of the dollar spent and the investment of time and for the people in the community start to see things really truly shift and not just a temporary shift but some real shifts.


[0:18:54.0] JW: If you are listening and you work at an organization, a nonprofit, public health organization, academic institution, or whatever, this is what I say to folks. You can’t come up in here and try to flip a community like people try to flip houses.


[0:19:10.3] CH: Yes.


[0:19:11.2] JW: Let’s be real about that because when people flip houses, the house has all this internal stuff going on but you’re trying to make it look pretty on the outside. Then, when somebody comes into the house to actually live in that house, all those deep problems start resurfacing, right? Because the root has not been addressed.


So, when you are an organization, one of your problems is you try and come up in here and flip a community like people flip houses, and that’s not the solution because what you have to do is, you have to attack the root but it’s a process. It’s a process to understand to, number one, identify what the root cause of the problem is and then number two, to figure out, who do you need to have onboard and who do you need to engage? 


What meaningful community partnerships do you need to build? Because, when we’re talking about community specifically, community-engaged research or community-engaged initiatives, you need to be sure that you have that buy-in from the community, that you built relationships with the community, that you have built trust with the community, and that takes time.


[0:20:18.6] CH: Yeah. 


[0:20:19.3] JW: It’s not a quick fix, so you need to be able to have someone on board who understands what those nuances are, how to identify what those relationships, what they currently are, where they currently stand, the historical issues that have happened in the past, it might not have anything to do with you but because you ought to research and because you work with this organization it falls on you. 


[0:20:42.3] CH: Yeah. 


[0:20:43.0] JW: Like, you have to be able to realize and understand it, then we can start moving towards what actions do we start and need to take, what needs to be put in place so that we can start addressing this root issue, this root problem so that we can move towards collecting the data that we need to collect, the information and the evidence that’s going to support how we build these solutions out because each phase of this is important. 


And if one phase, if you don’t build your community partnerships right, you’re not going to be able to collect the data that you need, you’re not going to be able to engage the community in collecting the data or analyzing the data or being able to share that data, and you’re not going to be able to create those data-informed solutions, and then those solutions won’t be sustainable. So, anything you do has got to start with the community and if you don’t understand it, maybe you need to get somebody on board who do.


[0:21:42.3] CH: Right. 


[0:21:43.6] JW: So, that’s my sermon, I’m done. 


[0:21:48.1] CH: I was about to say amen but like I got to back like that. What you said is a hundred percent true and right on point and I think the kind of organizations that you will partner with, like there are these organizations out there that understand that. They just need to know that you are that resource because they understand these things that need to be done, they can’t do it. 


They don’t have the capacity, not built and designed to do it. They’re looking for that missing link, that piece, and those are the kind of people that you need to partner with because that way, you’re not spending your energy trying to convince them of what they need to do. They come to you already knowing what they need to do, right? And I think that those that don’t understand yet that that’s what they need to do, I’m not saying they’re a lost cause. 


They just don’t know that they need to do it differently, they think that that’s the way to fix it but I don’t know if that would be the best use of your energy. Maybe they can learn from more examples of how you work with these organizations to get it done. It’s just the educational piece, which I know you love but you know, they can learn from those examples and it starts to become, “Oh.” 


They start to realize, “Oh, you know what? Maybe what we’ve been doing is not the best way to do it.” They have to come to that realization but seeing more of these examples of how this is working and how you’re partnering and it’s winning will help those other organizations start to kind of question what’s happening. 


[0:23:15.4] JW: Yeah, and I think the other thing is you have some organizations who – they are really trying. They are really trying to do this work and do it in the right way but you have the systems, right? Those oppressive systems or toxic systems or whatever you want to call it, toxic culture. It might be a toxic workplace environment or a larger system that’s more toxic and so it’s like, “Well, how do we implement certain things?” 

“How do we find out what these solutions are if we’re working inside of such an oppressive system?”


[0:23:47.9] CH: Yeah. 


[0:23:48.6] JW: And it’s possible. It is possible, it’s like you got a – inch away from the inside out, right? And so, a lot of times, you need someone to guide you right through, how do we eat ourselves out of this thing? And I know I have this kind of weird visualizations but just go with me here. The immediate image that came to my mind was – and this was an old movie, if you’re a millennial, you probably remember this – James and The Giant Peach. Have you heard of that movie? 


[0:24:22.3] CH: Yes. 


[0:24:23.7] JW: Okay, so James and The Giant Peach, and there’s this whole peach thing and the characters are like inside of the peach and they got to like eat their way outside of the peach. 


[0:24:31.8] CH: Yeah, yeah. 


[0:24:32.5] JW: So that they can figure out how to get on the other side because there’s a magical peach that popped up and so that’s kind of what I think about. Like, we got to have a strategy, we got to have an action plan because you got this oppressive peach that’s got you trapped in here but you’ve got to figure out a way to get out of it and there’s a way to get out of it but you got to have somebody who is able to guide you through it. 


And be able to present you with some actionable strategies to say, “Okay, this is what we can’t control. We can’t fix this. We don’t have no control that the peach is here, okay? We just got to deal with it and figure out where the pit is and how we eat our way out of this thing.” So, with that said, it’s like how do you find that person who can give you that strategy in order to figure out what can we do, what can we not do, what can we control, what can we not control. 


And a lot of what you’re going to be able to control is going to be at that community level because if you can get the people engaged if you can get your community members engaged, there is so much power there. There is power in people, there is power in community voices. So, you have to be able to understand how to leverage that and how to build those partnerships and those relationships in order to eat your way out of the oppressive system. 


I just completely made that up off the top of my head, so I don’t really know if that makes sense or not but it can – 


[0:26:05.6] CH: It made perfect sense to me. That actually gave me an idea, can we brainstorm for a minute? 


[0:26:09.5] JW: Oh yeah, yeah. 


[0:26:10.3] CH: You got to entertain my distraction here for a second. It actually gave me a great idea because I’m wondering if – okay, so before I say this, you have to understand that like we get it. Like, we have this conversation, one, and – but there are a lot of people who that, what seems like a simple, “Oh, aha” there are a lot of people who are several steps away from that, right? 


I wonder if you could even use some of the guests on your podcast to help have some of these conversations because I think that might be a way if you have a desire to help those organizations that are trying to kind of eat their way out. Now, I’m going to say, I’m going to be frank, this is stuck in my head now but I kind of think it works. So, maybe if you could you know, bring some guests on. 


And maybe it could be like who you’ve worked with already or maybe it’s someone who is in a situation like that and you could kind of speak through some of that. I think sometimes hearing that will kind of like start to resonate with people where they are, start to realize, you know, kind of what they need, just a suggestion but I just thought that might be a really good idea because if they – you know, we have to hear it a few times. 


So, and people might be hearing this and starting to think that maybe if you kind of have a few more examples or just maybe that’s kind of a regular thing, that’s also a way to get people that actually work with you come showing up a little bit more ready to kind of have because they know they need to work with you and this is what we need to do and then your expertise and your energy is right to the point. 


You know, I’m trying to help Mississippi and my people and I think what you do in Mississippi can be repeated across, you know, the southeastern region for sure because we’re all in very similar kind of situations and all of us in the southeastern states are kind of have to have this visual of the map of the US and where hanging out down here and we just have these common kind of challenges that we almost go numb to. 


[0:28:07.6] JW: The whole south and the policies and all the stuff that goes into here’s the peach that we got to eat our way out of and one of the things that I have noticed with the clients that I have currently working with is you know, we’re always talking about it, right? Equity is the thing on the outside of the peach that we’re constantly striving for. 


[0:28:31.9] CH: Okay. 


[0:28:32.8] JW: Constantly striving for, right? Trying to get to. But nobody has actually, really, particularly in the United States, we haven’t really seen, right? We talk about equity, in theory, right? 


[0:28:44.6] CH: Right. 


[0:28:44.9] JW: We’re trying to achieve equity, strive for equity but it’s like, what does that look like? Ain’t nobody ever seen it, like we have to be honest. We haven’t seen it in action, right? But that’s because we think about it too big. We think about it too broadly, we have to start thinking about, what does equity look like in everyday practice? What are those small actions, those baby steps that we can take to begin to eat our way out? 


We got to take really small bites so that we can get to equity and understand, what does this look like in practice in our workplace, in our families, in our communities, in our relationships, what does equity look like? And so, when I work with my clients and I specifically work with my clients to help them successfully implement those community-engaged research strategies, what I focus on is what is the strategic plan. 


And what is the process to arrive at that strategic plan, so that we can really understand, what does equity look like on a smaller scale? It just feels too big to deal with all at one time but there are some small things that we can start doing to try to achieve equity. One of those things is that I work with clients, is to come up with a strategic plan, right? How do we – we look at the challenges together. 


We create a strategy around those challenges together. We provide or tailor a recommendation around that and then we support that client in, how do we implement those recommendations, right? The other thing that we can do is we can train our community members, right? We can train them on research and data literacy, which I have worked with clients on as well. So, we want to make sure that our community members, not just our public health professionals. 


And public health researchers but if we’re going to engage the community, we want to make sure that our community members are equipped with the skills and the knowledge that they need to be engaged, right? And then we also need to make sure, another small step, we need to make sure that we are training our public health professionals, our faculty members who are in their ivory towers, who have not come down from the ivory tower to relate with people in the real world, you all need to train them too. 


So, we need to make sure that we are level-setting and I’ve worked with clients on that, right? And then the other piece is, what is that research support or that community engagement initiative support look like? You can’t do everything by yourself, right? You need somebody who understands, how do we engage the community in data collection or data analysis? How do we plan our research, design our research? 


What does it look like to – sharing the findings? Share it, people skip that step. You all skip that step. 


[0:31:40.2] CH: All the time. 


[0:31:41.3] JW: You want to run to the manuscript, you want to put it on the journal, you want to do all of that but what does it look like when we actually share the data, be transparent, and honest with our community members and what are the different forms we can share that data and it ain’t all going to be written down on a paper and a fancy report, right? We can get creative and innovative in how we share the findings, or the research, or the data so they’re accessible. 


So, these are some of the ways I work with clients so that I can help them to build these meaningful partnerships to be able to collect this data, work with the community, engage with the community, and then being able to create the solutions because it’s a process. If you want to eat your way out the peach, you got to have a process. 


[0:32:28.9] CH: I love it. I just realized we’re in the peach. 


[0:32:33.4] JW: Yes. 


[0:32:34.2] CH: Just kind of like, I just got this.


[0:32:35.4] JW: Yeah, definitely, that’s going to be the title of this episode, in the peach, why we’re going to have to live with that and figure out what it means, in the peach. 


[0:32:42.9] CH: I love what you’re explaining and what you’re describing and I think it’s necessary, so important to get this part out. I think for, you know, just sitting here listening to this and realizing you know, the work that you do and how you serve, I think for me, I want listeners to share it. Like, I think that, especially this episode, I would love for listeners right now to make a decision like who can you share this with. 


You’re going to share it in your network, on social media, on an email, I really – I think it’s important because on the other side of that, if I put myself in a setting where you know, it’s a bunch of leaders in public health space and they’re talking about having these, and we use air quote, “difficult conversations.” You know, I’ve heard that so much. I just realized that I don’t think they really know how to have difficult conversations and it’s optional. 


That’s part of the problem, it’s optional. So, I think that for those people that they realize the problem, they’re looking around at what needs to be done, I think the disconnect is that – it’s like, we have some people like you who do this exact work. So, sharing this conversation, you know, helping to be with more visibility helps this get served in front of people that are already looking for this kind of help. 


They are just looking over here and then you just see the tap on the shoulder and say, “Hey, the help you need is right here.” And you think of it as simple as that and kind of like we’re tripping over ourselves in this public health space, because we’ve got these people that know or are aware of this problem, they’re just looking over here for the solution and we just want to turn them to say, point them directly to where the solution is. 


[0:34:30.0] JW: And I will say for me and then we’re going to start wrapping up but for me, my whole goal in this is to say, how can we experience through this process, how can we experience more joy in our communities, right? Because our communities deserve joy. My whole tagline is we do more than public health, we bring joy to public health, right? But the thing that I need people to understand and realize is that it’s not just about experiencing joy at the end because that’s not the outcome. 


That’s not it, right? It’s part of it but it’s not it. The part where the transformation happens is when you realize that as difficult as those conversations are, as hard as it is to eat your way outside of this peach, as oppressive as these systems are, there is joy in the process. 


[0:35:23.2] CH: Yeah. 


[0:35:24.0] JW: And when you can start to realize and experience and identify, what does it look like to have joy in the process of trying to achieve equity, of trying to be able to help your communities, of trying to build these meaningful community partnerships and the joy in the process of getting to the solution? That’s where the transformation happens. 


[0:35:46.5] CH: Yeah. 


[0:35:46.9] JW: That makes the outcome of even more joy even more worth it. 


[0:35:51.9] CH: Yes. 


[0:35:52.7] JW: So, with that said, I do have one last question for you. 


[0:35:55.8] CH: Okay. 


[0:35:56.4] JW: So, of course, that question is what brings you joy in your work? 


[0:36:02.6] CH: I love that question. First of all, I love what you just described and that expression of joy. It resonates with me because I often think the same way. We can’t just look at the ultimate end game and just wait for that, we got to break that up and we’ve got to – for me, like just kind of thinking about, like I said, this walk, it’s one step at a time. Sometimes we don’t even know where we end up. 


So, for me, you know I can think about all the problems in public health and be overwhelmed. I can think about all of the problems, even thinking about my clients and the consulting work I do of how I’m trying to work and help them, I don’t need to solve everything and some of our contracts are long-term, like for a year, sometimes multiple years. It’s not about getting to the end of everything. 


It’s those wins, those micro wins, one step at a time, and for me, honestly, some of the simplest things bring me joy. When my client and I can communicate and they are clear on what the challenge is and what they need for me and we can have that conversation, that’s a win. You know, when a client trusts me enough, I work with – the majority are some sort of BIPOC leader. So, black, indigenous people of color, some of the – 


So, in this group, trust is an issue and I work with a lot of tribal organizations. So, when they invite me onto a project, that’s joy because I realize that they trust me enough to say, “Let me show you are ugly parts, the parts that are covered up, you know? Let me show you what our issues are because we need your help.” That brings me joy. So, like having an expression of trust, when I can explain as an epidemiologist, we speak our own language. 


So, when I can break that down and explain some little concept in a way that oh, people say, “Oh, now I get it. I understand that.” That brings me joy, like all of those smaller steps that move us closer to better communication, better communication, and better communication. You know, that leads us to better relationships, building trust, having more confidence, any indication along the way that points to those, bring me joy. 


[0:38:22.5] JW: Yes, I love it, and I completely agree. It’s just the little wins, those small victories, that’s what leads up to the big ones.


[0:38:30.4] CH: Yes. 


[0:38:30.9] JW: So, we can’t afford to skip over the small wins and the small victories. So, if people want to get in touch with you, they want to learn more about you or the podcast, both podcasts and all the other things you have going on, how can they get in touch or learn more information? 


[0:38:49.6] CH: I’m going to say two ways. So, if you go to, that will point you to the Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast, my consulting services. If you’re interested in the entrepreneur side, then will lead you to all the resources on that side. 


[0:39:11.9] JW: Awesome. Well, Dr. Huntley, it has certainly been a pleasure. This conversation did not go the way that I planned and that’s okay. It was better than what I had planned and so that is amazing. So, I certainly appreciate you for joining me and this is going to wrap up another episode of The Public Health Joy Podcast. 



[0:39:36.3] JW: I am so grateful for this time we got to spend together. If you enjoyed this episode, I need you to subscribe, rate, and leave a review. For more information on transforming public health research into positive community impact, visit This is where research meets relationship and I’ll see you next time on The Public Health Joy Podcast.



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