Bringing an Anti-Racism Lens to Implementation Research: Centering Communities to Inform Prenatal Care in Fresno

Fresno County has one of California's highest preterm birth rates, especially among Black families residing in West Fresno. How can we better center people with lived experiences in monitoring and evaluating the success of an intervention?

Recently, researchers and scholars are examining how implementation research can advance equity. Despite implementation research’s focus on eliminating disparities, researchers are urging a renewed focus on equity in ways that grapple with the conditions in which programs and interventions are implemented — with a particular focus on the impacts of structural racism, while intentionally engaging communities' history, culture, and values. For our May Collaboratory, join researchers from PTBi’s EMBRACE study and two implementation and health equity scholars to learn about authentic and community-centered strategies that inform and advance equity in evidence-based implementation.


Learning Objectives:

  • Understand how community organizations and researchers partnered to develop Glow!, a group prenatal care model.  
  • Learn authentic engagement strategies to center equity in implementation research.  
  • Explore strategies to inform equitable implementation such as the EMBRACE study. 

Learn more about the EMBRACE Study: 

Together in partnership with Fresno-based community organizations, the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at CSU Fresno and UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative engaged community members to learn how the conditions in which people are born into, live, work and thrive are affecting birth outcomes. By centering people with lived experience, the researchers and community members developed a care model called Glow!  

Glow! is a community-based, patient-centered and provider-centered model of cohort-based group prenatal care. In addition to lowering preterm birth rates, Glow! aims to lower depression and anxiety and improve overall prenatal care satisfaction. 

The next step for the researchers was to determine if this new model of care was effective at reducing preterm birth rates. The Engaging Mothers and Babies—Re-imagining Antenatal Care for Everyone (EMBRACE) study was kicked off in order to measure the success of the Glow! prenatal groups in comparison to the typical prenatal care a pregnant person in Fresno receives.  

Being born from community partnerships and leadership, the EMBRACE study continues to develop strategies alongside community members who are most affected by preterm birth to contextualize findings and inform the equitable implementation of the Glow! care model. 

Learn more

For accreditation information, please see our Monthly Collaboratory Events page



Bridgette Blebu

Bridgette Blebu, PhD, MPH  | UCLA

Bridgette Blebu is a K12 Scholar with the UCLA Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)-funded Stakeholder-Partnered Implementation Research and Innovation Translation (SPIRIT) K12 Center of Excellence Program. Dr. Blebu received her PhD in Public Health from the University of California, Irvine, and completed her BS in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and her MPH at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation research examined neighborhood social context, migrant selection and prematurity among infants born to Black immigrant women in the state of California. Her fellowship research explored preterm birth among infants of Black women, by focusing on equitable implementation strategies that optimize access to psychosocial support resources during pregnancy.

Nothing to disclose

Rachel Shelton

Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH | Columbia University

Rachel Shelton, ScD, MPH is a social and behavioral scientist with training in cancer and social epidemiology, and expertise in implementation science, sustainability, health equity, and community-based participatory research. She is Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she is Co-Director of the Community Engagement Core Resource at the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (CTSA), and leads a new university-wide initiative on Implementation Science. Dr. Shelton has taught implementation science courses and trainings nationally and globally for nearly ten years, including TIDIRC, TIDIRH, and the Institute for Implementation Science Scholars. Dr. Shelton has 15 years of experience conducting mixed-methods research focused on advancing the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based interventions in community and clinical settings to address health inequities, particularly in the context of cancer prevention/control; her research program is funded by NIA, NCI, NIMHD and American Cancer Society. 

Nothing to disclose


Venise Curry

Venise C. Curry, MD | Consultant

Venise C. Curry, MD is a consultant for community-based organizations collectively working to increase voter engagement, build civic capacity through leadership development, and create policy and systems change in Fresno County. The intersection between medicine, environmental and social justice issues is at the core of her advocacy efforts. She has successfully managed local and statewide issue campaigns on education, healthcare access, air quality and land use policies as a resident of the Central Valley. Dr. Curry was most recently the San Joaquin Valley Regional Director for Communities for a New California Education Fund.

Nothing to disclose

Derek M. Griffith, PhD | Georgetown University

Derek M. Griffith, PhD is a Founding Co-Director of the Racial Justice Institute, Founder and Director of the Center for Men’s Health Equity, and Professor of Health Systems Administration and Oncology. Trained in psychology and public health, Dr. Griffith’s program of research focuses on developing strategies to achieve racial, ethnic, and gender equity in health. He specializes in interventions to promote Black men's health and well-being and interventions to address racism in organizations and to mitigate the effects of structural racism on health.

Nothing to disclose