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Office of Community Engagement

Committed to the community

Rush has a long history of community engagement and an ongoing commitment to the diverse and underserved communities on the West Side and Near South Side of Chicago.

Rush believes that all people deserve quality health care, regardless of their socioeconomic status, race or ethnic background. The Office of Community Engagement’s top priority is to address and eliminate the health disparities in our community.

While Rush leads the effort dismantle these barriers to health care through programs that target the biggest disparities, we are not alone in this effort. We collaborate with a wide range of dedicated community partners to improve access to health care and promote healthy living throughout our community.

Our mission

The mission of the Office of Community Engagement is to enable and support Rush University Medical Center in fulfilling its commitments to the local community and to improve the health of Rush’s diverse neighboring communities.
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 the community, as well as to students, faculty, clinicians and other employees at Rush
  • Developing and strengthening effective community partnerships
  • Coordinating community-based experiences for students at Rush to enhance their ability to care for diverse populations

Meet the team

Darlene Oliver Hightower, JD
Associate Vice President , Office of Community Engagement and Practice
darlene_hightower@rush.edu

Linda Fitzgerald
Senior Business Manager
linda_fitzgerald@rush.edu

LaDawne Jenkins
Project Manager
ladawne_jenkins@rush.edu

Kimberly Johnson
Administrative Assistant
kimberly_a_johnson@rush.edu

Sharon Gates
Senior Director, Rush Community Service Initiative Programs
sharon_gates@rush.edu

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

Rukiya Curvey Johnson
Director, Rush Education and Career Hub
Rukiya_CurveyJohnson@rush.edu

Christopher Nolan
Community Benefit and Relations Manager
christopher_nolan@rush.edu

Julia Bassett
Community Benefit Specialist
julia_s_bassett@rush.edu

Robin Pratts
Associate Director, Faith and Health Equity
robin_pratts@rush.edu