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Office of Public Health Practice & Community Engagement

Our Story

The Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement serves as the convening body for public health practice and community engagement at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. The office is a tangible representation of our school’s commitment to creating and growing sustainable partnerships that engage communities as outlined in our 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. A dedicated steering committee of UMD faculty, staff and students gathered valuable input from school and community members and proposed what Public Health Practice and Community Engagement could look like at the UMD School of Public Health. The creation of the office was a critical centerpiece recommendation.

A diverse body of public health practice and community engagement work is ongoing at the UMD SPH, so the steering committee's vision is that the office serves as a convener and connector of public health practice and community engagement activities in the school. The official formation of the office was made possible by a $1.5 million gift from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We launched in the summer of 2022 with our inaugural leaders, Dr. Sylvette La Touche-Howard and Dr. Tracy Zeeger. 

The office is designed to support bilateral pathways between and among students, staff, faculty, and the community to enable public health practice opportunities that enhance academics, research, practice and community well-being, promote public health practice transformations, and serve as a resource and innovation hub for the school and community partners domestically and globally. Our strategic plan has been informed by the vital work conducted by the steering committee and is only made possible by the continued dedication and support of the entire school and community.

Our Vision and Mission

We envision a school where faculty, staff, and students routinely and intentionally collaborate with a wide range of community partners to integrate public health practice in education, research, and service and promote evidence-based, equitable solutions toward the improvement of health and well-being -- locally, nationally, and globally.

Our mission is to create sustainable and synergistic pathways to practice, model, and evaluate community-engaged research, service, and education and we carry out this mission while maintaining our commitment to true participatory practices and power sharing, a dedication to integration with existing efforts for public health practice and community engagement, and a yearning to be a source for convening and shared learning.

“We are looking forward to strengthening our existing community relationships and creating meaningful community engagement. It is our hope that together (with faculty, students, and the community), we will be able to transform our relationships within SPH and improve the health of our county and beyond.”

Dr. La Touche-Howard & Dr. Zeeger Co-leads of Public Health Practice & Community Engagement
Tracey Zeeger and Sylvette LaTouche-Howard smiling in front of brick wall outside