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Bennett, Pioneer in Community Health, Plans to Step Down

Nancy “Nana” M. Bennett, M.D., M.S., founder and director of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Center for Community Health & Prevention (CCHP) plans to step down from her role with CCHP after nearly two decades. Bennett plans to stay on as director until her successor is named.

Nana Bennett“The time has come for someone with fresh perspectives, ideas and experience to take over as the Center’s director,” shared Bennett. “I am extremely proud of all that we’ve accomplished at the Center, which would not have been possible without the hard work and support of our staff, faculty, University leadership and our dedicated community partners. We’ve made great strides locally and regionally, and I look forward to watching the Center grow and develop in the future.”

After several decades of engaging in community health initiatives, URMC established what is now known as the Center for Community Health & Prevention in 2006 to further advance its community health mission. Bennett’s passion and tireless advocacy for community health and her previous work at the Monroe County Department of Public Health made her the obvious choice to launch and lead the newly formed CCHP.

“Under Dr. Bennett’s forward-thinking leadership, the Center for Community Health & Prevention’s contributions have provided tremendous insight and best practices on how to apply preventive medicine to improve the health of a community, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized and underserved,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the URMC and dean of the School of Medicine & Dentistry. “URMC is proud of the Center’s long-standing commitment to improving health and increasing health equity, and we are grateful for Dr. Bennett’s steady stewardship in achieving progress in these very important areas.”

A few of the major accomplishments of the Center:

  • Creation of an academic medical center-community partnership model, reinforcing URMC’s role as a leader in community health. The Center also serves as a way to  support effective community-based research and service programs led by faculty and staff, and establishing the Community Advisory Council to provide input into all the mission areas of URMC.
  • Development of the unique Healthy Living Partners program, which develops and implements primary chronic disease prevention through a model of behavior change support grounded in Self-Determination Theory. Preventive care is provided by a multidisciplinary clinical team, delivering evidence-based individual and group strategies.
  • Continuation and expansion of the New York State Emerging Infections Program (EIP). Continuously funded by the CDC since 1997, the EIP team conducts local and regional surveillance for a variety of communicable diseases (most recently adding COVID-19 to the roster), identifies risk factors and evaluates the impact of new vaccines. Bennett has served as Principal Investigator initially, and now co-Principal Investigator, for the past 25 years.

“Dr. Bennett will truly be missed in her role at the Center, but has set a great foundation for the next chapter,” shared Wade Norwood, CEO of Common Ground Health and co-chair of the Center’s Community Advisory Council. “Throughout my leadership roles at Common Ground Health and as co-director of the Finger Lakes COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force with Dr. Bennett, I witnessed firsthand her commitment to improving the health of area residents and putting public health initiatives into action.”

A professor of Medicine and Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, Bennett is nationally recognized for her expertise in immunization, chronic disease prevention, community engagement and community health improvement.