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Navy blue background has diamons and starbursts. A spotlight icon shines on a circular image of Andrea Mendoza and her dog. A label read "In the spotlight." Below the label is the text "Andrea Mendoza."

by Melissa Marcus

Even though she’s working remotely, Andrea Mendoza doesn’t let that stop her from engaging communities in and out of the UNC Center for Health Equity Research (CHER).

In her role as Community Engagement Specialist, she partners with communities across the United States to improve community awareness and participation in research. Her work takes her across digital and physical spaces, as she recruits volunteers, preserves links with community partners and does her part in her various communities.

We asked Andrea to share more about her work.

Tell us about your role at CHER. What’s your position and focus?

I am a Community Engagement Specialist under the supervision of Dr. Peggye Dilworth-Anderson for the New IDEAS Study.

My primary focus is working on the community engagement aspect of the study, namely recruiting on-the-ground volunteers we call Champions to support study awareness in different metro areas across the US.

Champions provide information about the study to potential participants in our priority communities of African American/Black and Latino/Hispanic older adults and caregivers.

I provide training, coaching and support to the Champions and engage local partners to strengthen community-based Champion networks.

What do you like best about working at CHER?

I appreciate how CHER has a strong focus on collaboration, community engagement and a commitment to health equity.

I enjoy working with like-minded people and knowing that there is a community of people with a variety of strengths and knowledge that I can reach out to for additional support.

What’s the most important thing for people to understand about what you do?

As Dr. Peggye Dilworth-Anderson always says, we’re building a methodology. We continue to learn a lot about what others are doing to increase accessibility to research studies and we hope that our methods will also help inform future work in the Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia research space.

What are some challenges you face?

Some of the challenges I face come from the difficulties of building partnerships in various locations when so much of my work is limited to the virtual space.

Luckily, I plan on traveling to our different metro areas throughout the next several months which will hopefully strengthen our partnerships and allow for more in-person connection and collaboration.

Tell us something interesting about yourself, like a fun fact.

A fun fact about me is that I adopted a dog from Peru!

Why Peru?

I lived in Peru for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer so I adopted him while I was there and then I couldn’t leave him behind when I returned to the U.S.!