Ward Infinity, an initiative by Sibley Memorial Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, has announced its 2019 cohort of Community Health Innovators in Residence. Ward Infinity is a community-driven initiative that utilizes social entrepreneurship to improve health and wellness in residents of Wards 7 and 8 in the District of Columbia. Through Ward Infinity, Sibley partners with local residents and nonprofits who, acting as informed and passionate change agents, develop critical learning skills to help improve the health of their communities. This marks the program's second year of engaging grassroots innovators from Wards 7 and 8.
The 2019 cohort of Innovators in Residence will work alongside Sibley’s Innovation Hub team and partners such as 1863 Ventures, to learn, design and implement potential solutions to improving health and wellness in their community. Innovators in Residence will interface with the Ward Infinity Advisory Council, comprised of community and city government leaders, to assist in project development and sustainability. In addition to receiving coaching and guidance from leading industry designers and entrepreneurs, each resident-led cohort will receive up to $30,000 to support the cost of turning their innovations into reality. At the conclusion of the program, Ward Infinity hopes to have at least one prototype that has the potential for real impact in the community, and the necessary supports for pilot, implementation, and scalability.
“No one knows better about the health issues afflicting communities than the residents of those communities,” says Hasan Zia, M.D., interim president of Sibley Memorial Hospital. “And no one is better positioned to help improve community health than those community members. Accordingly, we have partnered with some extraordinary women, men and organizations with deep roots in their respective communities and who share our commitment to building community capacity to foster innovation and to address socioeconomic and health inequities in the District of Columbia. We are so excited to collaborate with these community innovators.”
The 2019 cohort of Innovators in Residence consists of four teams of residents and nonprofit organizations in Wards 7 and 8 who have demonstrated passion for their community and interests that align with previously identified critical areas of need among residents of Wards 7 and 8: Food access, housing, and health literacy. The 2019 cohorts are:
- Amanda Stevenson and Kendra Johnson will focus their efforts on expanding affordable and safe housing for low and moderate-income individuals and families and special populations (e.g., homeless, mentally ill, individuals in substance use recovery, persons with disabilities). Amanda Stevenson has more than 15 years of practice coordinating the design, development, delivery, and evaluation of creative programs and services within a framework of community planning and economic development. Kendra Johnson, a native Washingtonian, resides in Ward 8 with her family and is passionate about preventing unhealthy housing conditions.
- Leonard Watson and Taboris Robinson work for Urban Greens Inc., in Ward 8; a non-profit organization that addresses” Food Justice” in the District of Columbia. The team will focus their efforts on issues related to food insecurity, food scarcity, hunger, and the prevalence and impact of obesity. Financial resources, geographic separation from grocery stores, and limited access to high-quality and affordable food selection are all factors that detract from the health of DC residents in Wards 7 and 8.
- Tambra Stevenson and Monty Campbell will focus their efforts on utilizing social cognitive theory-based behavior change procedures to improve health literacy in Wards 7 and 8. Tambra Stevenson is the founder/CEO of WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture. Appointed by Mayor Bowser to the D.C. Food Policy Council, Tambra chairs the Nutrition, Health and Food System Education working group. Monty Campbell is the founder of Silicon Valley’s Lean Mobile Apps, LCC. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of Dream Factory Coop DC Association, a workforce development company on that DC Supply Schedule.
- Kesha Lee, Carlisha Gentles will also work to advance health literacy in Wards 7 and 8, with a focus on the intersection of functional, digital and health literacies.. Carlisha is the founder of Dissipating Disparities, Inc. (DDI), a nonprofit organization in rural Georgia (with plans to bring to DC) where she has merged her public health passion and advocacy into eliminating disparities in under-served communities. Kesha is the founder of Ward8Reads and spends her time helping non-profit organizations and social enterprises fulfill their missions of providing high-quality education services to children and families living in under-resourced communities.
For more detailed information about the Community Health Innovators in Residence Program, click here.