Our Team

Collins Airhihenbuwa

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Collins Airhihenbuwa, for over three decades, has been a leader in cultural based solutions to promote health equity in national and global health and general well-being. He is a pioneer in how to place culture and identity as important aspects of behaviors about health so that solutions to health can promote positive health behaviors. He is the author of a well-known cultural model (PEN-3) used in communities of color in the United States and in several countries, particularly in Africa, to develop programs and interventions for improved and sustained health and general well-being. In the past decade, he developed approaches and strategies for students and professionals (young and seasoned alike) to build confidence in themselves, affirm their own personal identity and become leaders even when they are not in administrative positions.

In addition to his work on culture and ­leadership, he has also led in developing strategies to study race and racism to promote health equity. He co-authored the Public Health Critical Race Praxis to guide researchers, educators, practitioners and policy makers to tackle institutional and structural racism so that people of diverse backgrounds can work together to improve conditions in which we work, learn, play, pray, meditate, and socialize.

His previous experiences include serving as head of a department and as a dean of a college in major universities. He has led workshop and training for United Nations and other global agencies such as the World Health Organization. In addition to his work in several states and institution in the United States, he has also led training in leadership and capacity building and strengthening for major universities and agencies in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

He has published 6 books and more than 150 articles and book chapters including the acclaimed “Health and Culture, Beyond the Western Paradigm (1995)” and “Healing Our Differences, the Crisis of Global Health and Politics of Identity (2007)”. His publications have been translated into French, Spanish and Ki-Swahili. He is very passionate about and fully committed to unleashing the forces for positive transformation in our individual and collective humanity.

As the Founder and CEO, Dr. Airhihenbuwa leads all major initiatives of U-RISE. He works closely with all the team co-leads to develop and deliver relevant training on all areas of U-RISE mission and priorities. His most recent project was the CDC leadership training to create supportive and nurturing spaces to promote antiracism at all levels of the agency.

Juliet Iwelunmor-Ezepue

Team Co-Lead for Culture and Sustainability

Dr. Juliet Iwelunmor is global health scholar who is leading national and global research in implementation science. She focuses on the implementation of evidence-based health programs and interventions in limited resource settings that are culture-centered and sustainable. Dr. Iwelunmor is an Associate Professor in Global Health at the Saint Louis University where she is training the next generation of public health students to identify, develop, and implement innovative solutions to inequities in global health. She is also building an international community of scientists and citizens to solve the sustainability problem in low, middle, income countries. Previously, she has worked as the Culture Sector coordinator for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Intersectoral Platform on HIV and AIDS, where she put forth a culture – centered agenda for HIV prevention among young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Iwelunmor received degrees from Penn State University with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Sociology, and a Ph.D. in Bio- behavioral health with a minor in Demography. Her work has been published in reputable scientific journals.

As the Team Co-Lead on Culture, implementation and Sustainability of U-RISE, she will work closely with the CEO to develop implementation science research to inform culturally focused solutions to health equity. She will also co-lead in the capacity building and strengthening of the next-generation of leaders and scholars to apply innovative community engaged culturally anchored health equity and social justice solutions that are socially, culturally and structurally sustainable.

Chandra Ford

Team Co-Lead on Antiracism and Social Justice

Dr. Ford is one of the country’s foremost authorities examining the complex ways in which institutional racism affects and continue to create health inequities. She is the lead author on the framework on Public Health Critical Race Praxis which is based on developing interventions using critical race theory. Her research examines the relationship between specific forms of racism, health inequities and healthcare inequities. As a result, she has been at the forefront of the development of tools to support research that can advance research and researchers who study racism as a public health issue. Her work has been published in the American Journal of Public Health, the Annals of Epidemiology, Social Science & Medicine, the Wisconsin Law Review, and other peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Ford is Professor of Community Health Sciences and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice and Health in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). She earned her doctorate in Health Behavior from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. Prior to joining UCLA, she completed postdoctoral training in Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina and in Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she was a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Kellogg Health Scholar.

Dr. Ford has received several coveted honors and she serves the profession broadly. In 2016, she was appointed to the National Academy of Medicine Committee on Community-based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and named co-chair of the Committee on Science of the American Public Health Association’s newly formed Anti-Racism Collaborative. She previously served as president of the Society for the Analysis of African American Public Health Issues. In addition to her academic roles, she has been involved with the Black Radical Congress and has partnered with the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders.

As the U-RISE Team Co-lead on Antiracism and Social Justice, Dr. Ford will work closely with the CEO and the U-RISE team to develop training to promote racial healing in communities and institutions nationally and globally.

Teri A. Murray

Team Co-Lead on Leadership for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Murray is Professor, Dean emerita, and chief diversity and inclusion officer of the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University. She holds Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Nursing from Saint Louis University, a Master’s degree in Community Education from the University of Missouri-Saint Louis, a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University, and a Management and Leadership Certificate in Education from Harvard University.

Dr. Murray is actively involved in workforce development and governmental affairs at state and national levels. She skillfully uses regulatory, public, and legislative policies to promote and lead innovation in nursing education and healthcare. Appointed by Missouri Governors Holden and Blunt, Dr. Murray served on the State Board of Nursing for more than eight years, three of which she served as president. As state board of nursing president, she regulated nursing education and practice for Missouri and served on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing to formulate policies for nursing education and practice in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories. Appointed by U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, she served on the National Advisory Council for Nurse Education and Practice, which advised the Secretary and the U.S. Congress on policy issues related to the nursing workforce. As the project director of multiple U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce, Division of Nursing and Public Health, Nursing Workforce Diversity Grants, Dr. Murray has worked tirelessly to advance diversity in nursing education in both the faculty and student bodies and the nursing workforce.

Additionally, as a board-certified advanced public health nurse, her research and policy interests are focused on the social determinants of health, and the interplay between the social environment, the political environment, and health outcomes. Dr. Murray is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the Academy of Nurse Educators, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows Program, a recipient of the Excellence in Healthcare Award for Stellar Performance, the Exemplary Leadership Award by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, and the Distinguished Black Alumni and Woman of the Year Awards from Saint Louis University.

As the U-RISE Team Co-lead on Leadership for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Murray will work closely with the CEO and the U-RISE team to develop leadership training to better prepare leaders to create and nurture spaces to support and promote diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging at institutions.