School of Public Health alumni Mageen Caines (MPH ’16) and Gretchen Musicant (MPH ’85) have been selected by The Kresge Foundation for its Emerging Leaders in Public Health Initiative.
The 18-month program allows two-person teams to focus on the design and implementation of a concept that shifts or expands the capacity of their local health department. Each team — made up of a health director and an emerging future public health leader — receives a resource grant as well as coaching and technical assistance to evolve their ideas into action.
Caines is a senior health researcher/epidemiologist and Musicant is the health commissioner for the Minneapolis Health Department, and together they are using the program to develop the organization’s ability to gather and use data.
“We’re working to formalize and infuse resources into formalizing our data,” says Caines. “We want to make sure that people in our community can take advantage of our data and that our community partners have the information they need to be successful.”
Caines says the city has data needs that aren’t met by relying on county data. “Hennepin County is very diverse and people in the city have different data needs, especially neighborhood groups,” she says. She also wants to pay it forward to cities that may have similar needs. “We’re hoping to make this translatable to other cities, including methodologies and sharing community engagement best practices.”
The two are hoping that the initiative will direct future strategies. “Our department is very rigid about upholding our data and being receptive and responsive with the community and we want to make that the center of what we do,” says Caines, who wants the work to translate into filling gaps in health equity. “There are real stories behind the data. You have to understand how people change and continue to have close ties with our community.”