USA Center for Healthy Communities

The Center for Healthy Communities represents the University of South Alabama's dedication to its community. It is through research, education, and empowerment that both the citizens and the university may contribute to an improvement of not health alone, but also to people's lives. The CHC Advocate, the Center for Healthy Communities blog, provides timely and relevant information related to health disparities, community-based participatory research, community engagement, and efforts of the Center. Also, see the Center for Healthy Communities newsletter archive to learn more about our work. Sign-up for the Center for Healthy Communities Newsletter to stay up-to-date on our work.


▼   Vision and Mission Statement 


The development of "enduring healthy communities" in metropolitan Mobile, the State of Alabama, the Gulf Coast region and the Southeastern United States by addressing the special needs of people the University of South Alabama serves. This includes the elimination of racial, ethnic and rural health disparities.

Mission Statement 

The Center for Healthy Communities is the lead entity within the University of South Alabama for coordinating community education, research, public service and health activities to help eliminate health disparities, foster access to healthcare for underserved populations and enhance the capacity of individuals to better participate in decision making about their health. The Center's mission is closely aligned to the Healthy People 2030 agenda and initiatives for underserved individuals and communities.  This mission is carried out through collaborative multi-disciplinary community and university based research, education and training programs designed to help develop "healthy sustainable communities."  Successful implementation of this mission requires the establishment of trusting relationships with minority and underserved populations, healthcare providers and scholars within the academic community.

▼   Background

In September 2002, USA President Gordon Moulton requested that the USA faculty explore options for helping the University better address special needs of the population it serves in metropolitan Mobile and the Gulf Coast region. Attention was immediately drawn to problems relating to health disparities and health concerns of underserved populations. The gravity of these health problems and the prominence of USA Health's participation in solving them required that they be given priority consideration.

Metropolitan Mobile and the Gulf Coast region (which includes southern Alabama, southeast Mississippi and southwest Florida) have some of the most desperate health concerns in the country. The health disparities in the region's large African American population in many instances exceed the national average. Similar problems persist in the area's Native American and growing Hispanic and Asian communities. The region also has a growing senior population with unique health needs and concerns that must be addressed as well. These and other special needs of people in the Gulf Coast region constitute challenges and opportunities for the University of South Alabama to help develop healthy communities and improve the lives of people it serves.

The University of South Alabama is uniquely situated to address the variety of healthcare delivery, education and access issues in its service area. In addition to an expansive offering of health related undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, the Whiddon College of Medicine is the only medical school in the region and is a major provider of continuing education and recertification training for physicians. USA Health is the region's largest provider of indigent healthcare, and USA Health University Hospital serves as the Gulf Coast's major trauma facility. USA Health Children's & Women's Hospital is a major provider of obstetric, gynecological and pediatric healthcare. USA Health's physicians practice groups, institutes and centers also provide an array of specialty medical services (i.e., cancer, organ transplantation, stroke, sickle cell, cardiology, telemedicine, etc.). Moreover, numerous programs and activities were easily identified at the University of South Alabama that have the potential to positively affect the health of Gulf Coast residents. Establishing a mechanism through which these resources can be effectively utilized to support the development of healthy communities in the region was a much greater challenge. 

After extensive research and review a proposal was presented to the University's Board of Trustees on September 4, 2003, for the establishment of a Center for Healthy Communities to help overcome this challenge. The board unanimously approved the proposal for the center.  

The Center for Healthy Communities has been designated as the lead entity within the University of South Alabama for coordinating community education, research, public service and health activities to help eliminate health disparities, fostering access to healthcare for underserved populations, and enhancing the capacity of individuals to better participate in decision making about their health.

This mission will be carried out through collaborative multi-disciplinary community and university based research, education and training programs designed to help develop "healthy sustainable communities."

▼   Resources

Community Resources

2-1-1 Connects Alabama is the answer for people facing difficult times who don’t know where to turn and for those looking to provide help or link others to resources. Are you looking for help with everyday needs? 2-1-1 is a free, easy to remember number to dial for information about health and human service organizations in your community. By dialing 2-1-1 for visiting the 2-1-1 Connects Alabama up-to-date information is much easier to find.

University Resources

REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is an easy-to-use, secure, web-based application for capturing, using, and sharing research or performance improvement data. The University of South Alabama is a member of the REDCap consortium. REDCap is primarily intended for faculty and staff of the University of South Alabama (USA), the Mitchell Cancer Institute, University Hospital, and Children's & Women's Hospital. 

The Office of Research Development and Learning (RD&L) provides information and opportunities focused on developing the USA research enterprise. The services provided by RD&L include funding opportunity awareness, training events and resources, and coordination of internal limited submission grant submission competitions. 

The USA Translational Research Service Center (TRSC) provides local support and resources for translational research activities backed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) HUB and Partner Network.

The CHC Advocate provides updates from the Center for Healthy Communities as well as news and resources related to health disparities and social determinants of health. 

Research Resources

The Housing and Transportation (H+T®)  Affordability Index provides a comprehensive view of affordability that includes both the cost of housing and the cost of transportation at the neighborhood level.

The 500 Cities project is a collaboration between CDC, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the CDC Foundation. The purpose of the 500 Cities Project is to provide city- and census tract-level small area estimates for chronic disease risk factors, health outcomes, and clinical preventive service use for the largest 500 cities in the United States. 

CBPR Resources

The following items provide more information on Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) Efforts:

▼   Leadership and Staff


Dr. Ashley Williams Hogue Dr. Ashley Williams Hogue 
Assistant Professor, Surgery, Whiddon College of Medicine
Phone: (251) 414-6488

Ashley Williams Hogue, M.D., a trauma surgeon at USA Health and assistant professor of surgery at the Whiddon College of Medicine, was named director of the Center for Healthy Communities in 2023. The co-founder of Project INSPIRE, a gun violence prevention program, has been outspoken in her to improve the health of the community, which makes her an ideal fit for the role. 

Williams Hogue, a native of Augusta, Georgia, attended medical school at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia, South Carolina. She completed a general surgery residency at the University of South Alabama, then a surgical critical care fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  

A skilled surgeon, specializing in trauma, acute care surgery and burns, Williams Hogue has received multiple professional and personal honors. She was selected as a Future Trauma Leader – one of the highest honors for a junior trauma surgeon – by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. Her presentation, “Project Inspire Pilot Study: A Hospital-Led, Comprehensive Intervention Reduces Gun Violence Among Juveniles Delinquent of Gun Crimes,” won the 2023 Cox-Templeton Injury Prevention Paper Competition hosted by the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma. She is part of Mobile Bay Magazine’s 2024 40 Under 40 class. 

She is married to Antwan Hogue, M.D., a senior hospitalist at USA Health and collaborating physician with the Johnson Haynes, Jr., M.D., Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center. The couple has three children. 

Research Core Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Kenneth Hudson
PI for Research Project
Associate Professor of Sociology

Community Outreach Core Leadership

Dr. Roma HanksDr. Roma Hanks
Co-Core Director-Community Outreach

Roma Stovall Hanks, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at the University of South Alabama (USA) and Director, USA Programs in Gerontology. She is Community Engagement Core Co-Director for the USA Center for Healthy Communities-Center of Excellence, funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Dr. Hanks serves nationally on the Academic Program Development Committee of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE); the AGHE Subcommittee for Intergenerational Research and Learning; and the task Force for Interest Groups of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA). She has served as Vice-President of the Delaware Gerontological Society and President of the Alabama Gerontological Society.

Dr. Hanks is an active participant in professional review and publication in the field of aging and intergenerational studies, having reviewed articles for Educational Gerontology and served on the editorial boards of Marriage and Family Review and the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. In addition to her work in social gerontology, Dr. Hanks is active in research and program evaluation in health-related projects. As an Associate Investigator of the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI), Dr. Hanks is currently Principal Investigator for the 2008-2009 Health Initiative, a partnership between the MCI and the Community Foundation of South Alabama.  Her recent research includes life history analysis of women in jail, exploration of cancer-related myths, and investigation of social networks and social support to prevent and manage illness.


Annette Bouie 

Annette Bouie                                                                                       (251) 471-7708
Research Navigator, All of Us                                   

Jillian Bowers


Jillian Bowers                                                                                       (251) 471-7708
Project Manager, All of Us                                           

Antonette Francis-Shearer

Dr. Antonette Francis-Shearer                                                            (251) 415-8737
Health Education Manager                         

Danette Jolly

Danette Jolly                                                                                         (251) 414-8001
Community Health Worker                                       

Connor Nelson

Connor Nelson                                                                                     (251) 471-7708
Research Navigator, All of Us                        

Lynette Parker 

Lynette Parker                                                                                      (251) 414-8001
Research Coordinator                                              

Bao Pham      

Bao Pham                                                                                              (251) 414-8001
Research Assistant                                               

Mary C. Williams   

Mary C. Williams                                                                                   (251) 414-8001
Community Outreach Coordinator                     

▼   Contact Information

Administrative office:

Mailing address: 
USA Center for Healthy Communities
211 North Catherine St.
Mobile, AL 36604

Social media: