Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, MD, MPH


Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; Assistant Professor of Public Health Practice and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, TN

Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge is Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). She is also Assistant Professor of Public Health Practice and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, at Meharry Medical College. She was elected to the Amherst College Board of Trustees in 2021. Dr. Wyche-Etheridge has introduced programs for at-risk pregnant teens and to promote community health screenings, as well as educational and maternal health programming through area faith-based institutions. She initiated a program for high school students to learn the basics of public health, and established Lentz University, an internal employee public health 101 program to guide the health department towards accreditation. She served as interim chief medical officer for the department, as well as co-director. In 2003, she founded the Nashville chapter of the Birthing Project. She has worked to change clinical practice by teaching medical students and master’s students to practice culturally-competent primary care and public health. Dr. Wyche-Etheridge sees the transition of health policy into practice at the level of the community as the key to improving health.

Dr. Wyche-Etheridge graduated from Amherst College in 1987. She received her medical degree from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, MA in 1993, and completed her pediatric residency at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. in 1996. She received her M.P.H. in 2000 from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Youth Development: Solving the Mysteries and Moving Policy into Process


In response to the extent of the many social, and health conditions that the youth of our country, especially youth of color, are facing, many funding sources have stepped away from traditional approaches put forth to address health.  As an alternative, funders have become more focused on encouraging and sponsoring community-based coalitions to address problems from a community perspective. This has resulted in the creation of innovative methods for dealing with specific health issues.

One example where this alternative approach is being used is in regards to the public health issue of teen pregnancy and its prevention. The Divisions of Reproductive Health and Adolescent and School health under the umbrella of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, put forth a request for funding to address teen pregnancy.  The Community Coalition Partnership Programs for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy awarded cooperative agreements to thirteen national sites. The money was intended to support the founding of innovative initiatives using community coalition building and youth development as a framework for teen pregnancy prevention.

Greater Options for Adolescent Lives, Inc., (GOAL), a Boston based, not for profit community organization, focused on teen pregnancy prevention, in conjunction with the Boston Public Health Commission functioning as the Hub organization, was one of the CDC’s 13 national award recipients.

Accepting the CDC’s Cooperative Agreement required GOAL to change its focus to a youth development model.  Functioning as a policy consultant and policy translator, my practicum involved helping GOAL understand youth development policy, its implications as well as the steps to its implementation.


The process of helping GOAL incorporate youth development required several steps.  The first step involved an extensive search of the literature.  This research lead to a workable definition of youth development, and the policies that apply to GOAL.  The staff of GOAL was then trained on youth development, ensuring that every one in the organization had a shared understanding of youth development, and how it fit into the fabric of GOAL.  Next the theory of youth development was taken to the pilot community, i.e. the neighborhood with the highest teen pregnancy rate in the city, in order to learn and incorporate the specific concerns of the community into GOAL’s youth development model.  This was done using a series of Force Field Analyses.  

This information including the importance and benefits of youth development as redefined by the community will be used in the recruitment of other community organizations who are interested and enthusiastic about joining together to form the coalition which will be the back bone of GOAL’s work.

The process of taking the policy around youth development, and through a stepwise fashion, translating it into process at the community level is documented in a training manual. This manual will guide will help guide GOAL as it expands its mission of teen pregnancy prevention using youth development into the other five targeted areas of Boston.  Each community will have the youth development training material, which incorporates the steps taken, and lessons learned, to help them go through the same process of embracing youth development, and coalition building for the ultimate goal of teen pregnancy prevention.

Faculty Preceptors:

Mary Rheddick-Pola, GOAL Project Director, Antonieta Bolomey, GOAL Project Manager
Karen Hacker, M.D., M.P.H. Boston Public Health Commission

I had the opportunity to speak at a statewide meeting recently on the subject of infant mortality. This is an area of interest that I have always had, but did not have the tools as a primary care provider to make a difference. Talking to patients one-on-one was not moving the numbers. When I did the fellowship, so many light bulbs brightened. I learned the skills needed to play the public health chess game, and play it well. The leadership training has enabled me to take a step forward and align myself as the infant mortality “State” expert. With the presentation skills, and media training we did as fellows, I have made a name for myself. The connections to high level people in the CDC and Federal Government have provided me with information and insight that continues to be beneficial to me on a daily basis. Although I haven’t successfully eliminated perinatal health disparities yet, I have been able to put enough pieces of the disparities puzzle together to start the process. None of this would have been possible without the lessons learned as a fellow.