For Joyce Raynor, winning the Chancellor’s Community Engaged Research Partner of the Year Award affirmed many years of hard work.
“This award means that we’re on the right track,” said Raynor, founder and executive director of the Center for Healing Hearts & Spirits, which helps victims of violence. “It means that our partnership with UAMS is working, and it’s good.”
The UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI) recognized some of UAMS’ many community partners at the recent 2023 Community Partner Celebration. The Dec. 1 dinner and awards ceremony drew 78 community partners, researchers and research staff who are working together to tackle health-related issues in diverse communities across Arkansas.
In addition to Raynor’s organization, the award winners are:
- Community Engaged Student/Trainee of the Year: Alice Gardner, a health promotion and prevention research doctoral student in the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health.
- Community Advisory Board of the Year Award: Arkansas Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Coalition
- Community Engaged Research Staff Member of the Year: Elizabeth Taylor, College of Public Health
- M. Kate Stewart Community Engaged Researcher of the Year: Nakita Lovelady, Ph.D., assistant professor, College of Public Health
Raynor founded the Center for Healing Hearts & Spirits in Little Rock after her son was killed by gun violence in 2001. The center has worked with UAMS on multiple research and service projects, including with Lovelady, who nominated Raynor for the award.
“The Center for Healing Hearts & Spirits works closely with frontline workers to connect violent assault survivors with critical social services to optimize recovery and prevent subsequent violence,” Lovelady said. “The center provides a range of victim services to violent assault survivors enrolled in the studies. Joyce has an intricate understanding of the issue of violence and survivorship. This affords her an exceptional ability to lead and reach survivors in ways that words can’t begin to explain.”
Lovelady, a K12 Mentored Research Career Development Award Scholar, received the inaugural M. Kate Stewart Community Engaged Researcher of the Year Award. She and her mentor, Nickolas Zaller, Ph.D., recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support a community-engaged violence prevention program.
“Dr. Lovelady truly understands the factors that contribute to community violence in Arkansas’ most high-risk populations, and she works very hard to find innovative solutions to address those issues and meet people where they are,” said Raynor, who nominated Lovelady for the inaugural award honoring Stewart, who retired this year as director of TRI’s Community Engagement Program.
Lovelady was excited to receive the award, noting Stewart’s strong legacy and influence on the next generation of community engagement researchers.
“It is such an honor to win this award!” she said. “It’s extra special to receive an award in honor of my great mentor and friend Dr. Kate Stewart. She introduced to me to community-engaged research more than a decade ago and served as one of the best examples of a community engaged researcher.”
Stewart joined the College of Public Health when it was founded in 2001 and led TRI’s Community Engagement Program since it was established in 2009. She created and oversaw numerous innovative programs that have elevated the status of community-engaged research in Arkansas and across the United States.
UAMS researcher Keneshia Bryant-Moore, Ph.D., APRN, FNC-BC, also received an Honorary M. Kate Stewart Award to recognize her many significant contributions to community-engaged research at UAMS over the last decade. She is a professor in the College of Public Health and graduate of the TRI KL2 (now K12) Scholar Award Program. Her many achievements include establishing the Arkansas FAITH Network, a robust group of church leaders from across the state who have become important partners in community-engaged research.