Leveraging Data for Population Health: Community and Academic Partnerships


October 7, 2019-October 8, 2019    
9:00 am-8:00 pm


Campus Center
326 Penn St., Camden, NJ, 08102

Event Type

Conference Overview

Both academic researchers and community groups recognize the importance of data for improving health and the social, physical, and economic environments in which people live, work, and play. Useful data are central to population health in both academic and community settings. In community settings, data help identify needs, improve interventions, and measure outcomes. In academic settings, data are the heart of most empirical advancements. Leveraging Data for Population Health: Community and Academic Partnerships seeks to bring together academic and community partners to expand awareness of how each group uses data for health, identify models for mutually beneficial data collaborations, and teach practical data skills. 

During this multi-day event, an afternoon keynote session presented by WRI Faculty Director Sarah Allred will describe findings from an extensive academic/community data collection partnership recently completed in South Jersey. In two roundtable discussions, stakeholder experts and conference attendees interact to first identify data gaps and then discuss different models for academic/community partnerships. In a series of three workshops, conference attendees have options to gain practical skills in: retrieving and working with publicly available secondary data sets, translating academic research to community-facing documents, and GIS-mapping. In a brainstorming session, conference attendees will identify potential structural or procedural changes that might make it easier to start and maintain academic/community data partnerships. Finally, the conference will include networking time to establish or strengthen partnerships.

Parking Information
Guests are encouraged to check out driving directions to Rutgers University–Camden as well as an online campus map. Free and secure parking will be available for guests in the Camden Technology Center Parking Garage located at 601 Cooper Street, Camden, NJ 08102. After entering the garage, take your ticket with you. After the event, return to the parking garage lobby and present your ticket and parking voucher at the security desk to receive free parking.

This event is presented by Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, Rutgers-Camden Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of Research at Rutgers-Camden.


Special thanks to our exclusive sponsor


Event RSVP

General registration (free event)



Sarah Allred, Ph.D., WRI Faculty Director

Keynote: “South Jersey Health Needs: Connections, Community and Care”  presented by Sarah Allred, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Psychology, Faculty Director of The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs.

Overview. Health outcomes in South Jersey are far worse, on average, than those in other parts of the state. The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers-Camden partnered with hospital systems and County Health Departments to study health needs in five South Jersey counties. Thousands of South Jersey residents and stakeholders participated through interviews, focus groups, and surveys. We all know that health behaviors like exercise and healthy eating influence our health. We found that our social behaviors – our connections with friends and communities – predict physical health in similar ways. Crucially, we learned from our research that some members of our South Jersey communities feel more isolated than others. Here we explain how connections between people and places are surprisingly strong predictors of physical and mental health.

A panel will follow moderated by Mary O’Dowd, Executive Director for Health Systems and Population Health Integration, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences.

Following the keynote, there will be a networking reception for symposium participants.




Each panel will meet for approximately 90 minutes and audience participation is invited.

Panel 1: Data gaps between stakeholder communities and academics. This panel explores the types of missing data or knowledge in different stakeholder communities with the goal of thinking more strategically about how to align community and academic partnerships. Panelists represent the spectrum of community groups.

Moderator:  Donna Nickitas, dean and professor, Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden


      • Bob Atkins, executive director, New Jersey Health Initiatives
      • Valeria Galarza, senior project manager, Cooper’s Ferry Partnership/Get Healthy Camden
      • Ben Spoer, manager of data and analytics, City Health Dashboard, NYU Langone Medical Center
      • Kate Barrett, senior manager, Community Affairs, Campbell Soup Company


Panel 2: Models of academic/community partnerships.  Academic partnerships take many different forms.  Some principally provide programmatic support for community programs (e.g. HIV-testing). Some provide practical help for communities and educational experiences for students. In others, community members and academic researchers collaborate on solving a problem or answering a research questions (e.g. CBPR). This panel explores the spectrum of academic/community partnerships and the benefits of each for both community members and academic researchers.

Moderator:    Darren Spielman, executive director, Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs


      • Dana Pilla, assistant teaching professor of Spanish and co-director, Spanish for the Health Professions Certificate Program, Rutgers-Camden College of Arts and Sciences
      • Cynthia Ayres, associate professor, Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden
      • Jane Horwitz, director, SAS Science Outreach Program, University of Pennsylvania
      • Emily Greenfield, associate professor, Rutgers School of Social Work, New Brunswick




Workshops are 2 hours each and provide attendees with tangible skills that will advance their capacity to utilize data for population health-related research. Three workshops will be offered.

Workshop 1: GIS mapping. This workshop will explore spatial technology and how it can be used to visualize population health data. Participants will learn basic mapping skills and practice with real data. Healthy People 2020 recognizes physical environment as a social determinant of health and emphasizes a “place-based” approach. GIS mapping has become an important tool for visualizing disparities by geographic regions. Participants will practice making maps with their own data (or data provided by instructors) working on Rutgers computers.

Instructor: Adam Okulicz-Kozaryn, assistant professor, Public Policy, Rutgers–Camden

Workshop 2: Translating/Disseminating Scholarly Research. This workshop will train participants on making their work accessible to stakeholder communities. Often, academic research contains findings that are important for stakeholder decision-making but the findings never make it back to the stakeholder communities in forms that are useful to them. Acknowledging the need to disseminate academic research in traditional spheres, this workshop will offer strategies for dissemination so that it also reaches stakeholder communities. The workshop will be very practical in nature, with faculty encouraged to bring ideas from their own research.

Instructors: Joan Maya Mazelis, associate professor, Sociology, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Camden; Nathan Fried, assistant professor, Biology, Rutgers-Camden; and Leah Falk, program coordinator, Writers House, Rutgers-Camden

Workshop 3: Accessing Publicly Available Data Sources. This workshop will show participants how to access data sources relevant to population health. Participants will be encouraged to identify a small project to complete during the workshop.

Instructors: Nancy Pontes, assistant professor, Rutgers-Camden School of Nursing; and Manuel Pontes; professor, Business, Rowan University; and Ben Spoer, Manager of Data & Analytics, City Health Dashboard, NYU Langone Medical Center

Brainstorming Session: Think Big!

When: Lunch, second day

Overview: What structural, procedural, or programmatic improvements within Rutgers-Camden could improve academic/community data partnerships?

Format: During a lunch session, a facilitator/moderator will lead a brainstorming session about structural changes. WRI will develop a list of questions in advance or discussion.



Day 1: October 7

9:00 a.m.   Coffee & Registration

10:00 a.m.   Welcome & Goals for day:  

          • Naomi Marmorstein, associate dean for Faculty Affairs and professor of Psychology, Rutgers University-Camden
          • Leah Murphy, senior manager, Corporate Strategy, Campbell Soup Company
          • Sarah Allred, faculty director, Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs

10:15 a.m.   Panel 1:  Data gaps between stakeholder communities and academics

11:45 a.m.   Lunch (on your own)

1:00 p.m.   Panel 2: Models of academic/community partnerships

2:30 p.m.   Break and coffee

3:00 p.m.   Chancellor’s remarks and keynote introduction

3:15 p.m.   KEYNOTE South Jersey Health Needs: Connections, Community, and Care

4:00 p.m.   Panel discussion

          • Mary O’Dowd, executive director, Health Systems and Population Health Integration, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, moderator

          • Darrin Anderson, executive director, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance

          • Carly Melchert, executive director, Meals on Wheels of Salem County

          • Kathleen Noonan, CEO, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers
          • Zupenda Davis-Shine, director of health education, Burlington County Department of Health

          • Annette Reboli, dean, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

4:30-6:00 p.m.   Wine & Cheese Reception


Day 2:

8:30 a.m. Coffee & continental breakfast

9:30 a.m. Workshop 1: GIS mapping (Business and Science Building, Room 336)

11:00 a.m. Break

11:15 a.m. Workshop 2: Translating/Disseminating Scholarly Research (Campus Center-South ABC Conference Room)

1:15 p.m. Box Lunch & Brainstorming Session

2:30-4:30 p.m. Workshop 3: Accessing Publicly Available Data Sources (Campus Center-South ABC Conference Room)