Einhorn Center Executive Director Basil Safi, left, and Douglas Kaplan ’88 present the 2023 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship to Gen Meredith.

Kaplan faculty fellowship honors public health partnerships

Gen Meredith, professor of practice in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Public and Ecosystem Health and associate director of the Cornell Master of Public Health (MPH) Program, has received the 2023 Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship from the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.

The award, which was established in 2002 and comes with a $5,000 prize, recognizes faculty achievements in creating challenging community-engaged learning opportunities for their students.

“Over the last five years, the MPH team has fostered more than 100 project partners, developed 12 community-engaged learning courses and delivered more than 200 resources to community partners,” Meredith said. “I’m excited to use the Kaplan Fellowship to help fill another important gap: employment pipelines from the MPH program to civically focused government public health jobs.”

For her fellowship project, Meredith is partnering with Tompkins County Whole Health (TCWH) – a recent integration of the Tompkins County Health and Mental Health departments – to help grow the public health workforce. The project builds on work started during the emergency response phase of COVID-19 pandemic, when the county and the MPH program partnered to meet staff and training needs on campus and in the community.

The Cornell MPH Program and TCWH are now into the process of establishing an academic health department, which will be the fourth formal affiliation between a health department and academic institution in New York state. Together with Cornell partners, Workforce Wellbeing in Human Resources and the Skorton Center for Health Initiatives, the team aims to create a model for sustainable paid student internships and graduate recruitment to TCWH, build a process for collaborative research and document shared resources.

“We are excited to continue our work with Gen and her team in this next phase of building local capacity and improving outcomes and well-being for the larger community,” TCWH’s Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County whole health commissioner, and Samantha Hillson, director of health promotion, wrote in a letter of support for the Kaplan Fellowship.

This latest project builds on Meredith’s long-standing commitment to community-engaged learning. An Engaged Faculty Fellow, Meredith is currently serving as the faculty co-lead for the Faculty Fellows in Engaged Scholarship cohort. Her work has also been supported by Engaged Curriculum Grants and Engaged Opportunity Grants from the Einhorn Center.

When nominating her for the fellowship, Alexander Travis, director of the Cornell Master of Public Health Program, wrote: “Through this project, Dr. Meredith will not only make practical advancements with our partners, but in so doing, she will also advance the health of our entire community. Her proposal is founded on engagement of students and her track record demonstrates her commitment to sharing the knowledge and experiences that come from engaged practice.”

The Kaplan Family Distinguished Faculty Fellowship was established by Barbara Kaplan ’59; her husband, Leslie Kaplan; son Douglas Kaplan ’88 and daughter Emily Kaplan Dodge ’91. Meredith will use the prize to hire two student project managers to organize and oversee the team’s progress.

Ashlee McGandy is assistant director of communications in the Einhorn Center for Community Engagement.

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Rebecca Valli