Health Equity Leadership & Mentoring Program

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HELM Member in the News:
"Stepping Outside the Classroom and into the Twin Cities: Lessons in Cross-Cultural Communication" highlights Dr. Laura Pigozzi's work bringing an integrated approach to service learning to her students.

Opportunity for Junior Faculty Members at the University of Minnesota

The HELM program has connected me with other early career professionals who are committed to health equity, as well as mentors who have a track record of work in this area. In conjunction with our monthly seminar, this supportive and collaborative group will help me build the foundation for a successful career, avoid burnout, and identify challenges that may arise in this line of work and how to navigate them. 

Brenna Greenfield, PhD 

Effective mentoring is one of the most critical components of a successful academic career. The University of Minnesota Medical School's Program in Health Disparities Research, with funding from the Office of Faculty Affairs, launched the Health Equity Leadership & Mentoring (HELM) program in 2014 with the goal of enhancing the academic excellence and leadership capacity of diverse faculty and health disparities researchers at the University of Minnesota. HELM focuses on some of the challenges that trainees from minority and underserved groups as well as other faculty whose research is addressing health equity may face. A new cohort of HELM fellows is selected annually to participate in the program.  For the 2017-2018 HELM program, a total of 10 Fellows will be selected.

Program Components

  • Seminar Series Sessions: Fellows who are accepted into the program attend monthly seminar series sessions. In addition to “traditional” academic career development topics, seminars will cover critical topics in health equity research and leadership, i.e. cultural resonance and diversity, micro-aggressions and historical trauma, and the continuing impact of institutional racism on professional development in the 21st century. 
  • Mentoring: Fellows are matched with a senior level faculty mentor. Mentors in the program offer training on cultural diversity with proven methods to enhance mentoring effectiveness. Current mentor/mentee dyads can be considered for the program. 

Benefits

  • Receive priority consideration for local and national professional development opportunities
  • Develop professional network with other health equity scholars
  • Obtain a certificate upon successful completion of the program 

HELM Fellow Expectations

  • Attend the kickoff seminar (September 29, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.)
  • Attend 7 (out of 9) seminar series sessions beginning October 2017
  • Seminar series will be held on the 3rd Friday of each month 
  • Meet at least three times with a HELM mentor over the course of a year
  • Complete an individual development plan, which includes a self-assessment, short and long-term goal setting, etc. that will be reviewed at each mentor meeting

Application Information

Applications for the 2017-2018 HELM cohort can be found here. For information on the 2017-2018 cohort, please contact Thaddeus Unold via phdr@umn.edu

2015 - 2016 HELM Fellows

HELM 2015-2016Elizabeth Allen, PhD, MPH
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. The HELM program is providing a safe space for discussion, reflections, and small group interaction, which is essential when delving into areas of research that address health inequities. It has also provided me with a network of colleagues and mentors who are passionate about this work and who can give practical advice on how to address the challenges of health equity research.

Caitlin Caspi, ScD
Q. Why are programs like HELM important?
A. First, I see mentoring as one of the single most important factors in career success in academia. The further I go along this path, the more I realize this. Second, I see the HELM program as a way of making sure that there is a strong future for health disparities research by building the capacity of “our generation” of researchers.

Diego Garcia-Huidobro, MD, PhD 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. I hope that HELM will equip me with 2 essential skills for my career: 1) specific strategies to succeed in my work/career as a person from a minority ethnic group (e.g., how to minimize the effects of conscious or unconscious bias in my career), and 2) give me an opportunity to reflect about issues that are important when working with others (and developing leadership programs).

Brenna Greenfield, PhD 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A.The HELM program has connected me with other early career professionals who are committed to health equity, as well as mentors who have a track record of work in this area. In conjunction with our monthly seminar, this supportive and collaborative group will help me build the foundation for a successful career, avoid burnout, and identify challenges that may arise in this line of work and how to navigate them.

Enyinnaya Merengwa, MD, MPH, DrPH(c), CP
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. Programs like HELM are important because they aim to enhance the academic excellence and leadership capacity of diverse faculty and health disparities researchers at the University of Minnesota and hence reduce health inequities.

Olamide Ojo-Fati, MD
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. Effective communication strategy is key to success in academia. The HELM program taught me how to effectively communicate with senior level faculty mentors. This is especially important for junior faculties as they collaborate with diverse faculty and health disparities researchers from different cultural backgrounds.

Lena Palacios, PhD
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. Participating with HELM has given me the confidence and provided me the resources necessary to expand my own participatory action research analyzing how interpersonal and sexual violence interlock with various forms of state violence (administrative, carceral, and enforcement violence) to produce and perpetuate health disparities. I am learning how to effectively speak across disciplines and fields about my own inter- and trans-disciplinary research on how exposure to state violence is a key social determinant of health.

Chelsey Thul, PhD
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. Programs like HELM are important because they provide a much-needed time and space for intentional self-reflection, self-awareness, and relationship building and connection. HELM is a program where it's okay to not only individually grapple with the complexity of healthy equity research and advocacy and the pressures of being an early career faculty, but more importantly to do so in community with one another.

2014 - 2015 HELM Fellows

Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. I think HELM will provide me with additional opportunities to connect with other early career investigators who are invited in health equity. I'm excited to work with, and learn from, the other HELM scholars and faculty mentors.
 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. I have found the assigned HELM readings helpful in mapping out my long-term professional goals, as well as organizing my daily schedule to be more productive. In addition, the readings that address the barriers and disparities for minority faculty are critical and should be read and embraced by everyone in academia.
 
Rachel Hardeman, PhD
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. Programs like HELM are essential to efforts to dismantle institutional practices that continue to harm the progress of academics of color. I am grateful for what HELM represents and its commitment to creating a community of scholars who are working towards the same goal.
 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. Meetings with HELM mentors, attending workshops and reading the assigned material has broaden my vision and stretched my personal and professional growth which is very helpful to step up my leadership roles in different organizations. This fellowship is equipping me well with the skills to succeed constructively in academic medicine.
 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. HELM has impacted my work and career by expanding my potential mentoring network outside the institution. It has allowed me priority consideration for local and national professional development opportunities and access to professional development scholarship funds.
 
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. Programs like HELM are important because as young faculty, mentorship is key as we navigate progression through an academic career. In addition, developing a cohort of colleagues from various backgrounds with similar interests in eliminating health disparities will hopefully prove to foster long-lasting collaborations and peer mentorship potentials.
 
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. I believe that mentoring programs like HELM add a lot of value to professionals who are either starting off in their career or are at mid-level. This is especially crucial for women and those from minority groups who generally have more difficulty breaking into informal but influential networks. Formal mentoring programs like HELM enhance productivity and facilitate successful career growth by providing linkage to people, access to available resources, and relevant information.
 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. The HELM program has created a valuable space for me to think about my work in health equity, and my own development in this field. This program brings together a diverse group of scholars to learn from and support each other, and it has beneficial for me to be better connected with my peers. Together we get to benefit from so many rich opportunities the program brings, such as the input of interesting speakers, useful resources, stimulating discussions, dedicated time with expert external advisors and high quality mentoring.
 
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. HELM has helped to create effective networking opportunities with established diverse faculty who provide strategies for successful academic careers by sharing their stories with us. Programs like HELM are critical for the professional development and success of diverse faculty in academic medicine.
 
Q. How has or will HELM impact your work and/or career?
A. Participation in the HELM program has helped me to better define my short-term and long-term career goals while taking into consideration some of the roles and responsibilities that may come my way given my status as a minority faculty member. Also, the program speakers have helped me to formulate a framework for talking with my colleagues and trainees about health disparities and/or other race-based concerns that affect healthcare.
 
Q. Why are programs like HELM are important?
A. J.R. Moehringer once stated, "to be a man, a boy must see a man." Similarly, in order for HELM fellows to be successful health disparities researchers, it is critical for us to be surrounded by other successful health disparities leaders in the field. Accordingly, I am confident that the leadership capacity and academic excellence of the other HELM fellows and I will be enhanced.