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Public Health Epidemiology Conversations Podcast

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Episode #343 Access To Quality Healthcare For The Underserved and Underrepresented, With Selena Smith, MPA

On This Episode Of The Public Health Epidemiology Conversations (PHEC) Podcast


An advocate for access to quality healthcare, a student of socioeconomics and equity, and a seeker of equality in justice and among humanity. Selena Smith joins us on the podcast to discuss her career journey and current role as COO of GRO Community, a mental health organization specializing in providing mental health services and support to Black men, by Black men. Selena is passionate about ensuring that the support needed to educate underserved and underrepresented populations is present and available. Join the conversation to hear a detailed background on Selena including what catapulted her into a career in public health. Selena highlights what it means to her to be a part of the Black Caucus of APHA and she delves into her role as COO and the mission behind GRO Community. Mental health as public health is also discussed, why we should normalize visiting a therapist, and why we, especially Black women, should not operate on zero. To hear all this, and much more, be sure not to miss out on this great and insightful episode of the Public Health Epidemiology Conversations podcast. Thanks for tuning in!


Meet Selena E. Smith


Selena E. Smith, a native Chicagoan, has over twenty years of experience in public health, health education, and administrative experience in pipeline programming, higher education, non-profit, and public sectors. She is the Chief Operations Officer for GRO Community – a Mental Health Organization that specializes in providing Mental Health Services and Support for Black Men by Black Men. Prior to GRO Community, she served as the Senior Associate Director for the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Urban Health Program (UHP) Resource Center, which focused explicitly on these related initiatives. She is passionate about ensuring the support needed to educate underserved and underrepresented populations is present and available. She’s an advocate for access to quality health care, a student of socioeconomics and equity, and a seeker of equality in justice and among humanity. Selena has developed programming and shaped environments by acquiring and managing resources to help in areas most needed. She has actively pushed for increased access to health care for underserved families internationally, nationally, and locally. She has witnessed the environmental culture of Chicago change, where life spans are shortened, and longevity is denied because of gun violence and other preventable social issues.


Selena built her professional career at UIC, working tirelessly towards the mission of increasing the number of minority health professionals and practitioners who can serve within the identified health professional shortage areas. She has done this work without borders, allowing herself to impact places and spaces nationally. She has fostered relationships and established partnerships across communities, educating and steering people toward making informed, educated, health-conscious decisions.



Listen To This Episode Of The Public Health Epidemiology Conversations (PHEC) Podcast



Conversation Highlights


  • Dr. Huntley shares an announcement with listeners

  • Get to know our guest, Selena Smith

  • She details what catapulted her into a journey in public health

  • What it means to Selena to be part of the Black Caucus of Health Workers for APHA

  • Selena shares about GRO Community and her current role as COO

  • We discuss the idea that mental health is public health

  • Normalizing going to a therapist for mental health (like going to a doctor for an illness)

  • Why it is not okay for us to operate on zero

  • She speaks about her work with the organization Journey to Wholeness Through Prayer


“Seven minutes [of exercise] will make a sizeable difference in your life. Let’s do what we can to try to change those statistics that are out there about Black Women.” — Selena Smith

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Public Health Consulting To Support You


DrCHHuntley LLC is a public health consulting firm that specializes in epidemiology consulting, supporting large nonprofit organizations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida that serve Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). We also provide nationwide public health consulting and epidemiology consulting support to BIPOC organizations across the United States.

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