Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement

Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement

Ensuring that our West Side neighbors achieve health equity requires establishing strong community bonds and identifying opportunities to partner.

Ensuring that our West Side neighbors achieve health equity requires establishing strong community bonds and identifying opportunities to partner.

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement, is to enable and support Rush University Medical Center in fulfilling its commitment to improve the quality of life within Rush’s diverse neighboring communities through initiatives and partnerships.

These are some of the ways we achieve this mission:

  • Assessing the health needs of our community and developing strategies to address these needs
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of Rush programs in meeting the needs of our community
  • Reporting and communicating Rush's community engagement efforts to our internal and external communities
  • Developing and strengthening effective community partnerships
  • Coordinating community-based experiences for Rush University students to enhance their ability to care for diverse populations
  • Serving students and families by providing quality, accessible health care within Rush's School-Based Health Centers and the Adolescent Family Center

Community Health Equity and Engagement FY20 Impact Report

Darlene HightowerThe Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement (CHEE) at Rush University Medical Center helps Rush fulfill its commitment to improving the quality of life for people in its diverse neighboring communities. Our team creates a wide range of initiatives and builds partnerships for assessing and addressing our communities’ health needs.

For decades, under-resourced communities, like some of the West Side neighborhoods that lie between Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital, have coped with systemic racism, poverty and lack of access to quality education and family-supporting jobs. Inequities like these give rise to illnesses that shorten lives, including diabetes, asthma, heart disease and depression — and as we have recently seen in the starkest of terms, underlying conditions that are caused and exacerbated by health disparities make people more vulnerable to illnesses like COVID-19.

We strive to help everyone attain equal access to the building blocks of good health: safe housing, quality education, family-supporting jobs, reliable transportation, healthy food and other essentials. Equal access gives rise to health equity, where everyone has a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is prevented from achieving it. In the pages that follow, you’ll see snapshots of some of CHEE’s programs and their impact on community health and economic vitality in fiscal year 2020.

Darlene Oliver Hightower, JD
Vice President, Community Health Equity

View the Report

Meet the Team

Darlene Oliver Hightower, JD
Vice President, Community Health Equity
darlene_hightower@rush.edu

Julia Bassett
Manager, Health and Community Benefit
julia_s_bassett@rush.edu

Natalia Gallegos
Program Manager, Strategic Initiatives
Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH)
Natalia_A_Gallegos@rush.edu

LaDawne Jenkins
Manager, Operations and Community Engagement Initiatives
ladawne_jenkins@rush.edu

Rukiya Curvey Johnson, MBA
Director, Community Health and Engagement
Executive Director, Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH)
rukiya_curveyjohnson@rush.edu

Kimberly Johnson
Program Coordinator
kimberly_a_johnson@rush.edu

Sally Lemke
Director, Community Health Clinics
sally_lemke@rush.edu

Thomas Molina
Manager, Financial Operations
Thomas_Molina@rush.edu

Tiffany Nguyen
Program Coordinator
Tiffany_P_Nguyen@rush.edu

Nathalie Rosado Ortiz
System Manager, Anchor Mission & Community Engagement
nathalie_rosado@rush.edu