In a season of immense growth, we are so grateful to have Millicent N. Robinson, MSW, MPH, as part of our experienced team. She has worked with CCPH for the past 4 years in a number of capacities, including a graduate student intern, Programs Assistant, and now as a Programs Consultant. Take a closer look at Millie’s bio here.

Earlier this month we spoke about her work and the connection with CCPH. Read below. 

How has CCPH influenced your doctoral work? 

I don’t know where to begin! CCPH has influenced my doctoral work in a number of ways. I began working with CCPH as a graduate student intern during my dual MSW-MPH degree program in 2017. Al Richmond, the Executive Director of CCPH, became my supervisor for the MSW portion of my internship. At the time, I knew very little about CCPH as an organization. However, I quickly began to realize that CCPH would in fact become a place that I could call home. As someone with an interdisciplinary background (Psychology, Social Work, Public Health, and Sociology), CCPH has provided space and opportunity for me to fully integrate and apply my diverse training to various organizational initiatives.  In other words, working with CCPH has allowed me to grow as a young professional and early career scholar. 

One of the ways that CCPH has influenced my doctoral work is by shaping my decision to apply to and ultimately attend a Community Health Sciences doctoral program specifically. Of note, there are not many Community Health Sciences doctoral programs across the United States.  As I began the process of deciding whether to apply to Social Work or Public Health PhD programs, I experienced an internal tension. I did not want to choose between the two disciplines given that they are both central to the work that I do. I wanted to find a program that helped me to integrate my training in an effective and holistic way. Something that initially stood out to me when I began working with CCPH is that this organization is deeply invested in health equity. One of the many ways that CCPH demonstrates this is by collaborating with and uplifting the ideas and contributions of community partners and stakeholders. I wanted to find a program that would allow me to integrate my interdisciplinary training, while learning some of the skills that would prepare me to conduct the type of work that CCPH is doing. Community Health Sciences has been a space where I can be an interdisciplinary scholar and accomplish these goals. 

A second way that CCPH has influenced my doctoral work is by providing me with a standard to implement when conducting my own research to ensure it is strengths-based, while bringing attention to health trends among populations that have been historically disregarded and excluded. My research aims to understand how experiencing chronic stressors and racism across the life course uniquely shape physical and mental health among Black women, and to assess how forms of culturally-relevant coping, such as Superwoman Schema and John Henryism, may help to buffer or diminish these harmful health outcomes. As a Black woman who conducts research focusing on Black women, I carry a particular responsibility to do justice to this work, and honor these experiences. Oftentimes, research conducted with Black communities, particularly Black women is done and conveyed in a steeply deficit-based way. However, one of my key goals is to challenge this “risk model” and bring attention to the autonomy of Black women in how we navigate these challenges in ways that can promote our holistic health and well-being, which is why a focus on culturally-relevant coping is significant to the work that I do.  

Last, but certainly not least, is that CCPH has influenced my doctoral work by providing tools and skills that can assist in translating empirical findings into more accessible forms of communication. A tangible example of this would be the numerous reports I’ve read and collaborated on to broadly share findings from projects or summaries of our convenings. It was notable for me to be introduced to this during my internship at the time, given that in academia, sharing findings in an accessible way is not always at the forefront. We can’t achieve health equity if these findings remain within the confines of academia and the ivory tower. We should disseminate this information widely. This is a lesson that I’ve taken with me, and have implemented. For my recent publication in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, I developed an infographic, along with a slide set to share findings on social media and my website. CCPH has influenced my doctoral work by being a non-academic space that pushes me to think outside of the box and counter norms within the academy to promote health equity and dismantle systems of oppression. To put it simply, CCPH has served as a guiding and grounding force for me throughout my doctoral program, and will continue to do so. 

Can you highlight the work you are doing for CCPH this summer?

Absolutely. This summer,  I will be assisting CCPH with manuscript development, the Introduction to Structural Racism Intensive, and providing support to the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Interns program. CCPH has been a leader in patient and community-engaged research and initiatives for over 20 years. In terms of manuscript development, I am integrating information about these initiatives and collectively crafting manuscripts with our team to share this information with a wider audience. The Introduction to Structural Racism Intensive (previously Structural Inequalities Intensive), is an endeavor that I have been heavily involved with since its debut in 2017. The purpose of the intensive is to provide participants with a historical understanding of structural inequalities, systemic racism, and skills needed to work in partnership to address these issues. I have previously co-facilitated sessions, co-analyzed evaluation feedback, and created infographics to share this information. Last year, I provided guidance for how to shift this training to a virtual platform, developed a participant workbook for each of the sessions, in addition to a 40-page resource guide. This summer, I am contributing administrative support and curriculum feedback for this initiative in terms of standardizing the format. Through a partnership between CCPH and The Center for Black Health & Equity, we have launched an HBCU internship program. The undergraduate and graduate student interns are assisting with tobacco control initiatives within their respective states, developing projects to support this effort, in addition to attending virtual training sessions on various health equity related topics. This summer, I am providing administrative support to this program, including sharing resources with the interns, scheduling meetings, and delegating tasks.   

Do those connect at all?

Yes, they do, very much so. As a doctoral student, I appreciate having the opportunity to not only develop manuscripts that focus on my academic interests, but also to contribute to this work within the context of a nonprofit organization that focuses on community-engaged work. This is particularly relevant for me given that I am also in the process of writing my dissertation. I am grateful that I am able to integrate my training in various domains in efforts to achieve health equity in a holistic way. The Introduction to Structural Racism Intensive is closely related to my work, given that I assess how experiencing chronic stress and racism impacts Black women’s health. I believe that it is important to understand and acknowledge that racism laid the foundation for the establishment of the U.S., it (racism) still operates in various ways today, and that racism must be intentionally and effectively addressed across systems through authentic partnerships if lasting change is to be realized. Finally, I am thankful to be able to assist with the HBCU internship program. I began working with CCPH as an intern and I am still working with them today as a doctoral student. It is important for me to be able to pay it forward for our interns, whether it be sharing knowledge, experience, or general guidance. CCPH has helped to shape the person and scholar I am today. I want to thank my MPH internship preceptor, Melissa Green, MPH and Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith, both from the UNC Center for Health Equity Research for introducing me to CCPH. Thank you!

We will continue to provide these staff profiles in future blog posts. If you would like to learn more about the CCPH Staff as a whole, you can find it on our team page here.


Millicent N. Robinson, MSW, MPH Academic Website

Is John Henryism a Health Risk or Resource?: Exploring the Role of Culturally Relevant Coping for Physical and Mental Health among Black Americans Millicent’s Publication in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior

UNC Center for Health Equity Research, Director: Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith

Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health at UCLA, Founding Director: Dr. Chandra Ford

The Center for Black Health & Equity, Executive Director: Delmonte Jefferson