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NC Commission of Indian Affairs & NC American Indian Health Board

Using Community-Based Participatory Research, we first partnered with the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs (Commission), a division of state government, created under NCGS 143B-404 by the North Carolina General Assembly to advocate and assist the state’s American Indian citizens.  The Commission helped us strategize on how best to build sustainable partnerships with tribes in North Carolina.  Gregory Richardson, Executive  Director, and Missy Brayboy, Director of the Community Services Program, were tremendous partners throughout this project.  Dr. Robin Cummings in his capacity as Chair of the Commission‘s Health Committee and in forming The North Carolina American Indian Health Board provided continual guidance and support, particularly on our research ethics review.  The first NCAIHB’s Executive Director Edgar Villanueva was actively involved in transitioning the American Indian Healthy Eating Project into the Healthy, Native North Carolinians Initiative.  Contact Edgar at or follow his and NCAIHB active facebook and tweets!  Edgar continues to advise the Healthy, Native North Carolinians on evaluating capacity building and the NCAIHB, particularly through its members Drs. Bell and Ammerman, continues to advise Healthy, Native North Carolinians.

For four decades, the Commission has used its statutory  authority to leverage resources at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels to improve the health status of Indians in North Carolina.  The Commission has administered a variety of grants to implement and disseminate policies and programs related to health promotion and disease prevention, such as our American Indian Teen Tobacco Use Prevention Program.  In addition, the Commission established the NC American Indian Health Board—an independent group of  Indian physicians and health professionals advocating for policies and projects to improve the health status of  American Indian communities.  In December 2010, the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made a historic visit to Raleigh and Pembroke, NC to explore the Commission’s capacity to administer CDC funds for program implementation and evaluation.

“We have built sustainable partnerships with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies, community and faith-based organizations, academic institutions, and corporations,” explains Gregory Richardson.  “These partnerships and projects not only advance Native health, but also provide our people employment and internship opportunities.”

Project Advisors

Wonderful mentors, project teams, and organizations have provided advice, resources, and wisdom along the way:

  • American Indian Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • American Indian Housing Initiative, specifically Dr. David Riley
  • Jean Charles-Azure, MPH, RD; Indian Health Services
  • Joel Gittelsohn, PhD; Johns Hopkins University, The Healthy Stores Projects
  • Joseph Sharkey, PhD; Texas A&M University
  • Ronny A. Bell, PhD; Wake Forest School of Medicine Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity
  • National Congress of Indian Affairs
  • Native Health Initiative, specifically Anthony and Shannon Fleg
  • North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative, Inc.
  • Paul R. Voss, PhD; University of North Carolina-Chapel HIll Research Professor of Sociology and Spatial Analysis Consultant
  • Seeds of HOPE, specifically Salli Benedict and Katie Barnes
  • Native American Interfaith Ministries (aka The Healing Lodge); specifically Tony V. Locklear, Executive Director
  • United States Census Bureau

Advisor Feature

Dr. Ronny Bell, HNNC Evaluation Advisor

Dr. Bell is a Professor in the Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, at Wake Forest School of Medicine, with training in nutrition and epidemiology.   Dr. Bell’s primary research interests are chronic disease prevalence, risk factors, and prevention, with particular emphasis on ethnic minority populations.  Dr. Bell is Director of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest.  Dr. Bell is a charter member and Chair of the North Carolina American Indian Health Board (also follow NCAIHB on twitter and facebook), and chair of the North Carolina Diabetes Advisory Council.  He also serves as a member of the American Indian Alaska Native Workgroup for the National Diabetes Education Program.  Dr. Bell received his undergraduate degree in Public Health Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his doctorate degree in nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his Master of Epidemiology from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.  Dr. Bell is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe and a native of Pembroke, North Carolina.  On this project, Ronny provides mentorship on American Indian research and insightful guidance on culturally appropriate dissemination strategies.