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WVCTSI announces the first cohort of the Ambassadors for Community Health Research Program

Three ambassadors were selected for the Ambassadors for Community Health Research (ACHR) program’s inaugural cohort. The program, created by the WVCTSI’s Community Engagement and Outreach Core, invites West Virginians to work alongside researchers to foster a tangible and positive impact within their local communities.

Each ambassador brings a wealth of experience, passion, and dedication to the program, with a shared commitment to improving the health and well-being of West Virginians.

The selected ambassadors are:

  • Brittney Barlett (Horner, West Virginia) - Serving as the Executive Director of Try This WV, Brittney facilitates a statewide network of health-focused teams dedicated to devising and executing grassroots community health projects. She is keen on investigating evidence-based interventions and devising innovative solutions to enhance health outcomes throughout West Virginia.
  • Malcolm Lanham Jr. (Ravenswood, West Virginia) - In his role as the Community Health Director at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, Malcolm oversees their public health emergency preparedness and response program, overdose quick response teams (QRTs), and Step Up MOV initiative. Malcolm's areas of focus include promoting healthy behaviors to combat metabolic syndrome, supporting substance use disorder (SUD) recovery, and advancing public health efforts.
  • Candace Smith (Branchland, West Virginia) - As an AmeriCorps Vista project coordinator for the non-profit organization, Inspiring Dreams Network, Candace develops projects and conducts training that nurtures West Virginia youth and those within their support network to foster stronger, safer, more connected communities. Candace’s interests include overdose prevention, harm reduction, and addressing health inequities.

"We are incredibly excited to welcome these three committed leaders as they join our program,” said Dr. Brianna Sheppard, co-director of the WVCTSI Community Engagement and Outreach Core. “We eagerly look forward to collaborating with them to advance the health and overall well-being of the West Virginian community through engaged research initiatives."

Throughout the ACHR Program, ambassadors will receive specialized training, mentorship, and resources to support the development and implementation of community-based research projects that address critical health issues facing West Virginia. Their work will contribute to evidence-based solutions that can positively impact the health of individuals and communities across the state.

For additional information and questions, visit the Ambassadors for Community Health Research webpage, or email Bree Gustke, Community Engagement & Research Coordinator, at