News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research

Institutes’ Community Advisory Board offers researchers “an experience they don’t want to miss”

Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health

The Community Advisory Board at the Institute for Public Health and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences is ringing in the New Year with new members and saying goodbye to a few longstanding ones.  Operating through the Institutes’ shared Center for Community Health Partnership and Research, the Community Advisory Board (CAB) helps bridge the gap between university research and local communities. The board is comprised of a diverse group of individuals with strong ties to local communities within the St. Louis region.

The Community Advisory Board of the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research
Susie Fliesher

A few exiting board members shared their thoughts on working with the CAB, community members and WashU researchers. Retired pediatric nurse practitioner Susie Fliesher said that after six years on the CAB, she “learned a great deal about Washington University research, grant writing, community research participation.” Fliesher says she got acquainted with many exceptional people and their research projects.

It was a privilege to hear that my input was helpful to [researchers’] success. I met so many accomplished community leaders who shared ways to solve problems and provided a plethora of resources that could be used in the process.

Susie Fliesher, former Community Advisory Board member

Fliesher added that the Board offers researchers an opportunity to understand community needs in ways they might not have before. She offered advice to future board members to “embrace the experience.”

Davorka Marovic-Johnson

Psychotherapist Davorka Marovic-Johnson spent eight years as a CAB member. Her primary focus on the Board was helping connect researchers to mental health agencies that provide services to refugees and immigrants. Marovic-Johnson said one of her favorite experiences was helping University of Missouri nutrition providers connect with mental health agencies like Bilingual International Assistance Services and the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. “Providers worked with clinicians at these agencies and created support groups for refugees who suffered from diabetes and other health conditions,” Marovic-Johnson said. “The project provided education, support and the tools necessary for improving refugee health.” She agrees that it is essential to do everything possible to help meet the needs of the community where they live and work.

Judy Bentley

Judy Bentley, president and founder of Community Health-in-Partnership Services (CHIPS) also completed her term as a member, noting that she learned more than expected and was grateful for the board’s role in “making the art of science and community more relevant.”

Three new CAB members were elected to serve a three-year term: Allison Kemner, senior vice president and chief research officer for Parents as Teachers National Center; Rose Jackson-Beavers, a mental health, faith-based consultant and author; and, Serena Blank, an occupational therapist at the St. Patrick’s Center. Each noted their enthusiasm about joining the CAB and supporting the integration of research and community endeavors to improve health and wellness.  

Kemner says she is excited to help the center address key public health issues such as maternal and child health, childhood obesity, abuse and neglect, child development and social determinants of health. “By engaging with community organizations and community members, the CAB can offer guidance to achieving the center’s goal of reducing disparities and improving health and wellness in the St. Louis region,” she said.

We cannot work in silos. We need to collaborate to provide the appropriate services to help our community. With a team approach, we are more robust and, through partnerships, can knock down barriers that prevent people from seeking health services. The center benefits community organizations because research guides us to provide to those most in need, the latest information to help solve problems.

Rose Jackson-Beavers, new CAB member

Read more about the Center for Community Health Partnership & Research Community Advisory Board. Researchers interested in meeting with the CAB to receive feedback on research projects or ideas, should contact center co-managers Hilary Broughton ( or Meaghan Bailey (

The Center for Community Health Partnership & Research fosters community-academic partnerships, communication and research in the region to reduce disparities and improve health and wellness