Carrie Leach, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor (Research) at the Institute of Gerontology, Community Engagement Program Manager at the Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors (CURES), and Associate Director for Community Inclusion at the Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations (CHECK-UP) at Wayne State University. Dr. Leach has expertise in health communication, participatory and action research, environmental health literacy, and community-based and aging services delivery and communication.
Her scholarly activity has focused on partnering with organizational leaders and community residents to evaluate and examine the needs of more than 5,500 older adults across Michigan to translate findings into actionable improvements in aging and community-based services practice and policy.
Over the past decade, Dr. Leach has been a leader in community engagement, currently with the Community Engagement Core (CEC) in the NIEHS P30 Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors. She helped develop and maintain a Community Advisory Board (CAB) for the CEC and helps plan and carry out the community engagement strategy focused on education and advocacy. She led a systematic program assessment of CURES’ CEC activities.
Through her work with the CEC she developed a process for community stakeholders and CURES researchers to co-construct "Environmental Health Chats" multi-media informational materials aimed at improving environmental health literacy of Detroit residents. Over the past six years, those efforts resulted in disseminating health-protecting information to more than 5,000 Detroiters through face-to-face interactions and thousands more through print and digital media.
Dr. Leach’s work in community engagement and environmental health communication strongly influenced expanding her research from interpersonal dynamics to embracing an ecological view. Her dissertation utilized a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to understand and characterize the dynamics of a “communication ecology” in late old age and how those dynamics impede and enable the flow of information about aging services. Dr. Leach’s research resulted in a multi-level community action plan to help bridge the senior-service provider communication gap. She found that the participatory process was key for reaching vulnerable and hard-to-reach older adults who would most benefit from the needed community resources.
Carrie is driven by her commitment to reduce to communication inequities that play a role in health disparities. She has shown that active participation increases the public’s interest and capacity to engage with science, fosters connections and co-learning among researchers and Detroiters impacted by environmental health issues, and helps research inform multi-level decision making.
Ph.D., Health Communication, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 2019
M.P.A., Master of Public Administration, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 2009
B.A., Communication, Madonna University, Livonia, MI, 2004
A.A., Liberal Arts, Schoolcraft College, Livonia, MI, 1997
PH4400 Methodological Approaches to Public Health
Dr. Leach not only values community engagement with research, but also sees a place for it in the classroom. Through collaboration with community contacts at the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine (BCHS), she arranged for undergraduate students in her fall 2019 PH4400 Methodological Approaches to Public Health course, to develop and pilot mock study instruments used to survey and in the conduct of 10 separate focus groups with nearly 80 high school juniors. The study reported the findings of the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of E-cigarette harms to BCHS students who were provided with criteria that they used to evaluate and score the results presented in poster form when the WSU methods students returned a few weeks later.
Enhancing Communication with Older Adults
- Fact Sheet: Aging Communication 101: Improving Interactions with Older Adults
- Fact Sheet: Aging Centered Outreach: Best Practices for Connecting with Older Adults
- Dissertation: Understanding the Utilization of Community-Based Services in Late Old Age: A Participatory Approach for Connecting Through the Communication Ecology
- Dissertation Abstract: Gerontological Society of America 2019 Conference
American Public Health Association
Gerontological Society of America
National Communication Association
American Society on Aging