Phillip W. Graham selected for national leadership program to build health equity

October 25, 2017

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC— Researchers and community leaders are powerful partners for impacting community health needs with their ability to directly apply research to create change.

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a leadership development program led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has selected Phillip W. Graham, DrPH, director of drugs, violence and delinquency prevention program at RTI International, as a member of one of only 15 three-person teams selected.

Graham will join a diverse group of researchers and community leaders—directors of nonprofits, psychologists, community organizers, and sociologists—located across the country, to collaborate and innovate to solve persistent health challenges. Together, these fellows will help advance a culture of health—one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

“It’s an honor to partner with other researchers and community leaders to advance solutions for addressing community challenges,” Graham said. “I look forward to collaborating with colleagues from the University of California- Berkeley School of Public Health and the East Oakland Youth Development Center to address the vulnerabilities teens face in the summer and how we can engage them in summer jobs programs and skill building activities.”

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is one of a number of leadership development programs supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). These programs continue RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders.

Each year, the program chooses two project themes. Graham’s team chose to design their project to address youth development approaches to prevent violence and promote health. The team will determine if an integrated training curriculum for East Oakland urban youth can increase acquisition of human and social capital when participating in a summer jobs program.  

Along the way he will develop high-level leadership skills through mentoring, networking, and an advanced leadership curriculum. While participating in the program, he will continue working full-time, applying new knowledge and leadership in his community and field.

Graham has more than 20 years of experience conducting community-based research and evaluation. His research focuses on evaluating preventive interventions developed to reduce and prevent adolescent interpersonal violence and substance use. He currently serves as the project director on several national cross-site evaluations assessing community efforts to reduce underage drinking, prescription drug misuse and abuse, marijuana use, and opioid deaths.

“This year’s fellows are addressing significant challenges communities face in achieving better health and health equity. We are excited to see the unique, diverse teams entering this program, and believe this cohort will demonstrate the power of community-engaged interdisciplinary research to solve real-world problems,” said Michael Oakes, PhD, director of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and professor at the University of Minnesota.  “Through this program, fellows will learn the leadership skills necessary to help build a culture of health.”

Additional partners providing training and support to fellows include: AcademyHealth, ISAIAH, and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

The next application period for many of these programs will open in early 2018. Additional information is available at