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URMC / Center for Community Health & Prevention / News & Events / Local Changemakers in Community Health


Local Changemakers in Community Health

Black History Month, a nearly 100-year-old tradition, celebrates the vast contributions Black Americans have made to our country. 

The Center proudly provides a snapshot of changemakers making a difference in mental health and well-being, violence prevention, and maternal child health in our region.

April Aycock, Ed.D., LMHC, Master-CASAC, MS  

April AycockApril Aycock, Ed.D., LMHC, Master-CASAC, MS, is the Monroe County Office of Mental Health director and president/CEO of Awareness Counseling Services. With more than 10 years of experience in behavioral, mental health, and substance use services, Dr. Aycock is the first African American Monroe County Office of Mental Health Director and has been recognized nationally as one of the 14 National Association of Counties Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission members. She has a multitude of experience as a leader in strategic planning, coaching mentoring, etc., and as a clinical provider, working as a consultant, clinical supervisor, psychiatric emergency evaluator, private practice therapist and more.

Her proudest achievement thus far has been developing an Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) clinic at URMC’s Strong Recovery dedicated to providing specialized services for youth ages 14 to 24. The AYA clinic is a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) that “provides an integrative model of care for patients with substance use disorder and their loved ones. We tailor care to your age and emotional development while addressing external factors that drive substance use.”

In recognition of her impactful career, Dr. Aycock will be presented with the Good Neighbor Award at this year’s Goodwill Gala.

Thank you for all you do to elevate mental health services in our community, Dr. Aycock!

Irshad Altheimer, Ph.D.

Irshad AltheimerIrshad Altheimer, Ph.D., a professor of Criminal Justice and the director of the Center for Public Safety Initiatives at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), is using his personal experience as motivation to help stop violence in Rochester. His role at RIT allows him to provide technical assistance to community partners, law enforcement and community-based organizations to develop and evaluate evidence-based crime reduction strategies. In 2022, the Center for Public Safety Initiatives received a $225,000 grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation to provide a “one-stop shop” for comprehensive services for victims of gun violence, providing them with support to prevent further violence and find stability. 

Services are coordinated with a variety of community partners, with support for project coordination provided by TogetherNow. This initiative gives victims of gun violence the opportunity to receive appropriate trauma support and other follow-up care coordination services.

Thank you for the impactful work you’re doing, Dr. Altheimer!

Sherita Bullock 

sherita bullockSherita Bullock has been the executive director of Healthy Baby Network (HBN) since February 2019, and has worked in progressive positions since 1997. The mission of HBN, previously known as the Perinatal Network of Monroe County, is to “ensure that every parent in our community has the information and support needed to bring a healthy baby into a nurturing home.” Since its start in 1996, HBN has elevated medically- and socially-vulnerable families at every level, from direct intervention to taking the time to educate community leaders and medical providers on structural racism and inequities that new parents face.

HBN has grown exponentially under Sherita’s leadership. Initiatives like the Black Doula Collaborative, Fatherhood Program, Reentry Program, and soon-to-launch Breast/Chest Feeding Program all focus on elevating the voices and goals of parents within their unique cultural context and providing support as they achieve success. "A key distinction of HBN is its incredible staff, who all have lived expertise in the areas they focus on," shares Bullock. These efforts also contribute to one of the two priority areas of the 2022-2024 Monroe County Community Health Improvement Plan – to reduce racial, ethnic, economic and geographic disparities in maternal and child health outcomes, and promote health equity for maternal and child populations.

Thank you, Sherita, and your team, for your passion and all that you do as changemakers in our region!

Shirley Green, Ed.D.

Shirley GreenLast summer, under the direction of Shirley Green, Ed.D., City of Rochester commissioner of Recreation and Human Services, a social-emotional health and wellness pilot program was launched at four Community Recreation Centers (R-Centers). The City partnered with The Center for Youth and Monroe County to develop a program with licensed community-based child and family therapists and social learning specialists provided services to registered R-Center youth and families for free. “These services can make a big difference in decreasing violence, developing healthy coping skills and helping youth learn how to lead successful lives,” shared Dr. Green in a news release about the initiative. The program’s success resulted in more services being available throughout the year.

The four R-Centers involved in the program are the Thomas P Ryan Recreation Center in northeast Rochester, Tyshaun Cauldwell R-Center for Hope on the westside, Willie Walker Lightfoot Recreation Center in the southwest, and David F. Gantt Recreation Center in the northeast. Dr. Green’s progressive thinking and passion for human services shines when talking about the program’s influence. The program has served hundreds of teens and young adults in its first five months.

Thank you for the difference you’re making, Dr. Green!

David Satcher, M.D., Ph.D.

satcherDavid Satcher, M.D., Ph.D., was the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and former Secretary for Health in the Department of Health and Human Services. While Dr. Satcher has played, and still plays, a prominent role nationally and internationally, he has always taken the time to return to Rochester, where his medical career began, and, in doing so, has left his mark on this community. Dr. Satcher performed his residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in the early 1970s. Dr. Satcher received the University of Rochester’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2014.

A four-star admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he is a renowned champion for healthy lifestyles and for eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health. He is founder of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute

In addition to his distinguished career nationally, Dr. Satcher has served since 2005 on the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants of Health. His latest book My Quest for Health Equity: Notes on Learning While Leading takes a close look at his 50-year career and what he has learned along the way. 

Established in 2010, the Center's Satcher Community Health Improvement Awards recognize URMC faculty and staff for significant contributions to the health of our communities through research, teaching, practice, and/or service programs.

Award nominations are currently being accepted and are due by noon on March 25. We look forward to honoring this year's awardees later this year!

Thank you, Dr. Satcher, for all you've done for the health of Rochester, and beyond!