NORDP 2017 Annual Research Development Conference

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A Research Development Professional’s Guide to Community Engaged Research

(4 hours)

Community engaged (CE) research requires specialized partnership building skills, infrastructure and approaches that differ from traditional research. Research development professionals (RDPs) are ideally positioned to facilitate CE research as they bring expertise in establishing and managing complex, team-based relationships, projects with many moving pieces and access to institutional resources/ infrastructure. RDPs who have not yet been asked about “where to start” to engage community members in research, will soon. Many funders (e.g. PCORI, NIMHD) already require the community to be engaged in the development, implementation, dissemination and/or evaluation of research projects.  This workshop is intended for RDPs with all levels of knowledge about, and experience with, CE research. Workshop participants will gain an understanding of: 1) the principles of CE research, 2) the rewards and challenges of CE research, 3) approaches that can be used to engage the community, 4) infrastructure that is needed to ensure successful CE research and 5) how to facilitate CE research at their institutions. Pre-workshop surveys will be distributed to the participants. The survey will assess CE research knowledge, perceptions, and current activities and will help shape workshop content. Several workshop activities are planned including a collective SWOT analysis that will produce a framework that participants may use as a starting point to consider how to further develop and utilize their expertise in CE research development activities. Case studies will illustrate examples of community engaged research and resources / tools that facilitate community engaged research and community engagement. Intended outcomes from this workshop include: 1) formation of a NORDP CE research development support group, 2) identification of CE research and community engagement subject matter experts from within the NORDP community, and 3) catalysis of a broader awareness of CE research and discussion about the role of, and opportunities for, RDPs in CE research.


Tiffany L. Israel

Tiffany L. Israel, MSSW, is the Translational Research Coordinator/Community Navigator for the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.  In this role, she manages the implementation of the Community Engagement Studio model, a forum for community members to better inform research practices.  She serves as a co-instructor for the Vanderbilt Medical School and supports the development of community engaged research by conducting institutional seminars and guest lectures on best practices for partnering with community to improve the field of research. 

Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Ms. Israel, a trained facilitator, gained more than 15 years of experience working in and with the Nashville community most recently as the Director of Programs and Resource Development for the Neighborhoods Resource Center and the Associate Executive Director for St. Luke’s Community House.

Ms. Israel has a Master’s degree in Social Work and Community Practice from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelors of Social Work from Middle Tennessee State University.

Yvonne Joosten

Yvonne Joosten, MPH, has an extensive background in population and community health, with expertise in community and patient engagement, community outreach, community development and building academic-community research partnerships. As the executive director of the Office for Community Engagement in the Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health she provides input on the institution’s community and public health strategic initiatives related to education, research, outreach and service. Since its inception in 2007, Ms. Joosten has led the creation and management of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Community Engaged Research Core, part of the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. She has overseen the creation and implementation of infrastructure and resources to support the planning and implementation of robust community engaged research and mutually-beneficial, sustainable academic-community research partnerships.

Ms. Joosten’s work in the academic setting is informed by over 30 years of experience with community based providers and advocacy organizations that serve diverse populations impacted by health disparities. She maintains strong relationships with local community leaders and has developed an extensive network of academic partners, resulting in a unique ability to effectively broker academic-community research partnerships.

Ms. Joosten has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and a Bachelor’s in Anthropology from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona.

Kim Littlefield

Kim Littlefield, Ph.D., currently serves as the Assistant Vice President for Research Development and Learning ( at the University of South Alabama (USA).  In addition to the other responsibilities of this role, Dr. Littlefield facilitates the creation of collaborative research partnerships.  She is a Co-Investigator on USA’s Translational Research Services Center (TRSC) award, which established USA as a partner institution in the eleven member partner network associated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham CTSA award – the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS).  As a Co-Investigator on the TRSC project, Dr. Littlefield serves on the national CTSA Collaboration / Engagement Domain Task Force and on the Metrics/Evaluation working group.  In this role, her partnership building efforts have gravitated towards local and regional community engaged research activities.  As a university administrator, Dr. Littlefield’s community engagement research partnership building activities focus on developing institutional infrastructure to connect community and academic partners and showcase community-academic partnerships and projects in searchable, dynamic, and real-time ways.  As a reviewer for the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), Dr. Littlefield has served on special emphasis panels for a variety of award mechanisms focused on community engaged research.  Dr. Littlefield’s reviewer experience has catalyzed her efforts to identify and develop the specialized research infrastructure needs of academic and community partners from within the academy. Dr.  Littlefield’s goals for future community engaged research work include finding creative ways to translate university compliance infrastructure to the community, including human subjects training, IRB review, and grants management capabilities.  Dr. Littlefield brings an institutional perspective to the evolving discussion about how research development professionals can best apply their expertise and resources to facilitate community engaged research activities. 

Dr. Littlefield obtained her Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She began her career in research administration/development at the University of Washington. There she co-founded the Complex Proposals Management Group that provided development support for large teams of investigators pursuing high risk, high reward funding opportunities.  Moving from the majestic Pacific Northwest to the culturally – rich Deep South afforded Dr. Littlefield the opportunity to lead the Office of Research Development and Learning at the USA, a high-energy, high – profile office that truly makes a difference on campus.