Community Experts

Community Experts are community partners who have familiarity with the research process and ability to transfer skills to academic investigators interested in partnering with communities and community members interested in research.

group photo of community experts

Community Experts represent diverse communities from rural and urban regions of the state and different socioeconomic, educational, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. They are leaders of community-based organizations, advocacy groups, agencies and faith-based organizations with extensive experience using the CBPR approach to address a wide range of health concerns, with a particular focus on health disparities.

  • David Caldwell

    David Caldwell is a graduate of NCCU and Mt. Olive College. He is currently the Project Director for the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA), and serves on its Executive Board of Directors. He is also a part of the Coalition to End Environmental Racism (CEER) and serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the North Carolina Environmental Network (NCEJN).

    He has worked with community members and academic partners in three Community-Based Participatory Research projects with RENA including: Water, Health and Quality of Life in a community bordering a Landfill; Odors, Health and Quality of Life in a Community bordering a Landfill; and Well and Septic Evaluations.

    Mr. Caldwell is also a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Expert and Consultant who contracts with the NC Translational and Clinical Services Institute to advise research partnerships on strategies to advance their use of CBPR approaches.

    Mr. Caldwell is a member of several organizations including the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP where he is head of the Environmental Committee. He is also the Second Vice-Chairman for the Orange County Democratic Party.

  • Barbara Council

    Barbara Council was a program coordinator for ECU-Brody School of Medicine Infectious Disease Clinic in Greenville, NC where she recruited African-American women and facilitated an HIV community education outreach program throughout eastern North Carolina (Dr. Dianne Campbell, PI).

    For ten years Barbara was part of a community-based organization in Tarboro, NC, the Community Enrichment Organization, where she served as a program manager and business administrator. In that time she was also a project assistant with a CBPR Project, the GRACE consortium (Dr. Giselle Corbie-Smith, PI). The Community Enrichment Organization offers several resources to the community including an after school pregnancy prevention program for grades 6-8; a teen parent support and mentoring group; HIV education; Unity Breakfast programs for senior citizens; connecting needed services to the communities through information and referrals; and serving as a Community Fellows promoting early childhood education (0-8 yrs. old).

    She is a member of the NC TraCS Institute CARES service which unites communities, faculty and health-care providers into a partnership in clinical and translational research to boost the public trust in research. She serves on an HIV social media campaign advisory board "Reducing the Concurrent Partnerships among African Americans: A Media Campaign with UNC Infectious Disease (Dr. Ada Adimora, PI). She was part of the 2009 Community Advisory Board for University of North Carolina Program on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health Outcomes (ECHO). Their mission is to “improve the health of North Carolina communities by eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities through multidisciplinary and culturally sensitive research, education and training.”

    Barbara is a graduate of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC with a BS degree in Organizational Management and holds a MS in Social and Community Services from Capella University in Minneapolis, MS. Barbara serves as a Board of Education member of Martin County Schools and is active in many community engagement/organizing programs within her county and region.

  • Rev. Danny Ellis

    Reverend Danny Ellis, PhD is the President and CEO of Ellis Research and Consulting Service, LLC, which serves as the senior consulting agency to three large community based organizations in NC.

    In addition, he is the Executive Director of Together Transforming Lives, Inc. (TTL). TTL began in 2005 with the vision to “reduce preventable death and disease in Halifax County’s African-American population and address racial health disparities.” TTL accomplishes this vision through utilizing community resources to provide culturally sensitive health education, promotion and disease prevention activities to the community. TTL reaches out to people in need through providing direct assistance and connections to community services. TTL is the lead agency in Project SEED, which is a CBPR study seeking to study the effects of a Diabetes intervention in rural communities in NC.

    Danny has over 20 years of experience in leading workshops and trainings with diverse audiences about various topics including: health disparities, research in the community, grant writing and more. Dr. Ellis serves as a Community Expert for the CBPR Charrette process, providing advice and technical assistance to strengthen partnered approaches to research and community building.

  • Barbara Harris

    Barbara Harris is from Duplin County. She has a Master of Education from North Carolina State University. She has worked on several CBPR projects including HOPE Works, Seeds of HOPE and the National Children's Study. HOPE Works is the former and Seeds of HOPE the current Core Research Project for the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP), UNC's CDC-funded Prevention Research Center.

    Barbara is currently on the project's Community Action Council. She has been a member of the Duplin County Community Action Council since 2006. She also serves on the evaluation team on each of these projects and has served in other planning and data collection roles as well.

    Barbara was selected to serve on the National Children's Study Steering Committee as a member of the Advisory Group and as a National Community Representative. Barbara remains active in community-based projects directed by HPDP.

  • Melvin Jackson

    Melvin Jackson, MSPH has over 30 years of experience in public health research and program coordination. Over the past 10 years he has served as Program Manager/Program Director for Project DIRECT, the largest community based demonstration project in the nation addressing the health disparity of diabetes.

    Currently he directs an ADA Recognized Diabetes Self-Management Training Program under the umbrella of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, which is based on a business plan developed while attending the UNC Management Academy for Public Health.

    Mr. Jackson also serves on the Advisory Committee for the NC ADA Recognition Program. He has participated on a number of advisory committees including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’s (UNC-HPDP) Men As Navigators (MAN) For Health (at the university and community levels) and several UNC-HPDP multiple partnership grant-writing groups.

    Melvin also serves on the Wake AHEC Regional TraCS Campus Community Advisory Board as a community partner and as a Community Expert consultant for the HPDP-TraCS project, Community Leadership to Build Capacity for CBPR. He and Alexandra Lightfoot are Co-Principal Investigators on a CBPR study, Focus on Youth + ImPACT: A Pilot Project to Test an HIV/AIDS Curriculum for Youth in Faith-Based Settings.

    Mr. Jackson has recently launched the North Carolina Community Health Leadership Roundtable and the NC Community Partners Forum. The goal of this effort is to help Community Based Organizations and Community Leaders gain skills, knowledge and a network of peers to better position them to engage in community academic research partnerships focused on addressing health disparities.

  • Nora Jones

    Nora Jones is chair of the Board of Directors for The Partnership Project, an organization that conducts an anti-racism workshop called Undoing Racism. These trainings are held 3-4 times each year in Greensboro, NC.

    She is also a member of the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative, and serves on the Health Equity Team which conducts workshops designed to help health care personnel recognize and work to eliminate race-based health care disparities.

    Nora’s most recent CBPR project was with the Cancer Care and Racial Equity Study (CCARES). This study used qualitative research to compare the level of care between African American and White patients within a local healthcare system. She served on the publications committee, helped analyze data from interviews and participated in presenting data to medical residents and other groups.

    Nora is very involved in the Sisters Network, a national organization for African American breast cancer survivors, and led the effort to establish a branch in Greensboro.

    Nora is a retired public school teacher and continues to work in the Guilford County School System as an elementary school tutor. She holds membership in the Auxiliary to the Greensboro Medical Society, the Auxiliary to the Old North State Medical Society, the Auxiliary to the National Medical Society and the HealthServe Advisory Council.

  • Rev. Bill Kearney

    Reverend William (Bill) Kearney owner of Bill Kearney & Company, LLC - Consultant & Facilitator (website:, is an ordained minister and serves as Assistant to the Pastor at Coley Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Warren County, North Carolina. Reverend Kearney coordinates the church health ministry and chairs the United Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church Association health committee.

    Reverend Kearney has more than 30 years of experience developing and facilitating empowerment programs for both youth and adults. He has been a partner in the development of research partnerships including: The Harvest of Hope Church Garden Project; The Faith, Farming, and the Future Youth Mentoring Project; The Community Leadership and Reciprocal Development Project; and the Carolina-Shaw Partnership for the Elimination of Health Disparities.

    Rev. Kearney was chosen as a scholar in the NC TraCS Institute Research Engaged Community (REC) Scholars Program (2011-2012) where he began a new research project aimed at engaging members of his community in discussion about environmental justice and the role the 1982 Warren County PCB toxic landfill protests played in the birth of the “environmental justice” movement.

    Reverend Kearney is also a research affiliate with the African-American Collaborate Obesity Research Network and a fellow with Presbyterian Hunger Program. He has extensive experience in Community-Based Participatory Research and consults with local, state and national organizations.

  • Rev. Mac Legerton

    Reverend Mac Legerton, ABD is the Executive Director for the Center of Community Action (CCA) in Robeson County, NC, one of the oldest multi-cultural, community-based nonprofit organizations in North Carolina and the South.

    He has worked on multiple Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) projects through his work at CCA and other organizations over the last 33 years. He has founded and engaged in multiple community-university partnerships, including founder of the Robeson County Family Support Program, and cofounder of the SE NC Food Systems Program (Feast Down East) with UNC-Wilmington and the SE Entrepreneurship Alliance with UNC-Pembroke.

    He also coordinates Service Learning and Internship Programs with six universities, including UNC-Chapel Hill. CCA partners with five community colleges with its career pathways and poverty reduction program. He also co-founded the NC Legislative Study Commission on Poverty Reduction and Economic Recovery, and presently serves on the NC Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council.

    He is trained in qualitative research and evaluation methods and has been teaching, training and facilitating CBPR projects since 1992. CCA has utilized CBPR strategies in multiple program areas, including: health care; family literacy; child maltreatment prevention; career pathways and poverty reduction; education reform and advancement; youth empowerment; racial justice; legal justice; local food systems; economic justice; environmental justice and education; and sustainability.

    Mac is a graduate of St. Andrews University, Union Theological Seminary in New York, and completed course requirements at Columbia University, Teachers College in the EdD Program. He is an ordained minister in the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ.

  • Tony Locklear

    Tony Locklear is Executive Director of Native American Interfaith Ministries aka "The Healing Lodge" located in Robeson County. Tony has extensive experience in public health issues from across health conditions and the lifespan- from STDs and teen pregnancy, to Health disparities, elder abuse and fall prevention.

    Mr. Locklear serves on the advisory board of National Native American AIDS Prevention Center and Southeastern Regional AIDS Health Consortium. He is a member of the NC Statewide Community Planning Group, NC Institute of Medicine Prevention Planning Group and involved in several community groups/projects including Threads of Hope which partners with rural women to create sustainable business ventures, Seeds of Hope, HOPE Accounts for Women, Rockingham District Native American Cooperative Ministry and the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association.

    Mr. Locklear also serves as a Community Expert consultant for the Community Leadership to Build Capacity for CBPR project.

    Mr. Locklear is especially interested in projects around community mobilization and empowerment in Native community. He is also co-leading the Full Circle Movement to assist grassroots efforts to enhance and sustain health in American Indian communities.

  • Naeema Muhammad

    Naeema Muhammad is a community organizer with the Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT) and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN). She also works with the Black Workers for Justice (BWFJ) as a founding member, and served as a Community Mentor to Kellogg Health Scholars Program Scholar Chris Heaney.

    She has worked on several Community-Based Participatory Research projects related to the environmental effects of hog farming, building capacity of rural African American communities to take action for environmental justice, and investigating the symptoms and quality of life of residents where sewage sludge is used as fertilizer.

    Naeema is passionate about environmental justice and seeks to empower community members to address the issues in their communities through her work through training and education.

  • Donald Parker

    Donald Parker is a resident of Edgecombe County, NC. He works for Project Momentum, Inc. Project Momentum, Inc. is a community-based organization located in Edgecombe County, NC. It was founded in 2005 to address the many social, environmental, and health issues that face the mostly rural community of Edgecombe County.

    Donald has served as a community advisory board member for Project LOVE since January 2008. Project LOVE is a CBPR project designed to explore rural, African-American adolescents’ knowledge, perceptions, and beliefs about dating violence.

    Donald is also a Steering Committee member and Data Collection Supervisor for Project GRACE: A Participatory Approach to Address Health Disparities (P.I.: Giselle Corbie-Smith, MD, MSc), funded by National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Project GRACE is a CBPR project designed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in two North Carolina counties.

    Donald serves as a community advisory board member for Project EAST, another HIV/AIDS research project that helps reduce the stigma of the HIV/AIDS in Eastern NC.

    Donald holds a Bachelor’s of Arts and Science degree in History from North Carolina Central University. Donald’s work spans across HIV/AIDS education, adolescent dating violence, and research on health disparities in rural counties in North Carolina.

    Donald is the Vice President of the Edgecombe County Democratic Party. Donald is also the co-founder of M.M.A.D (Men Making a Difference), which is an organization that promotes positive living and lifestyle change for Black families in Edgecombe County.

  • Florence Siman

    Florence Siman is originally from El Salvador. She moved to North Carolina with her family in 1980 because of the political situation in her home country.

    In 1988, Florence received her BA in International Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill and in 1991, her Masters of Public Health, specializing in Health Behavior, Health Education.

    Since then, Florence has worked on several health-related projects throughout North Carolina. From 1994-to 2004, Florence worked at Child Care Networks, a child care resource and referral agency in Pittsboro, NC, where she developed and implemented a Latino Program to serve the needs of Latino families in the area.

    In 2004, Florence left Child Care Networks to direct a lay health advisor program at El Pueblo, Inc., where she is now the Director of Health Programs.

    Florence is a founding Board Member of El Pueblo, Inc. Florence has also served as Community Mentor, providing mentorship in CBPR approaches to Kellogg Health Scholar postdoctoral fellow, Barbara Baquero.

  • Mysha Wynn

    Mysha Wynn is a native of rural Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Mysha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from North Carolina Central University (1993) and a Masters of Arts Degree in Education with a concentration in English and Social Studies from East Carolina University (2002).

    Mysha’s professional accolades include being the Founder and Executive Director of Project Momentum, Inc., a community-based organization, being an actively engaged collaborative partner on several Community-Based Participatory Research projects, two of which include Project LOVE and Project GRACE. She serves as a community advisory board member for Project LOVE and an essential stakeholder and subcontractor for Project GRACE.

    Mysha serves as a community expert for NC TraCS, the CTSA at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has also served as a community mentor for a Kellogg Health Scholar/Postdoctoral Fellow.

    Ms. Wynn’s work spans across mental health, teaching, HIV/AIDS education, substance abuse and research on health disparities in the rural counties in North Carolina. She continues to work diligently to eliminate social and economic barriers that affect the productivity of the environment in which she lives.