azEYDuJ

Community Service to Research: Carolyn T. Williamson

Carolyn T. Williamson

Carolyn T. Williamson

This profile is part of a series to highlight the researchers who will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9, for UNMC’s Scientist Laureate, Research Leadership, Distinguished Scientist, New Investigator and Community Service to Research Award recipients.

Community Service to Research

The Community Service to Research Awards recognize the critical roles many community members have played in UNMC research, as facilitators, implementors, reviewers and collaborators, among other roles.

Carolyn T. Williamson is a member of so many boards at UNMC that, she jokes, she should be on staff.

Williamson, a community leader in North Omaha, is a recipient of the 2023 Community Service to Research Award from the UNMC Vice Chancellor for Research Office.

Williamson first became involved at UNMC through Girls Inc. Given her role in the North Omaha community and the profound health disparities for black infants and children in Douglas County, Williamson was invited to serve on the internal advisory board for the Child Health Research Institute in 2020.

Ann Anderson Berry, MD, PhD, CHRI director, who calls Williamson “CT,” also called her a welcoming presence “who has consistently been highly engaged in helping integrate STEM programming from UNMC faculty into the summer programming at Girls Inc.”

Williamson said she was initially skeptical of UNMC and its goals in North Omaha, but she soon became a fan of UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD.

“He’s kept his word to the North Omaha community,” she said. “When he first came here, he talked about what he’d like to do in the community — and he’s done it. With a little prodding from some people, sure, but he’s kept his foot to the pedal, and that means a lot.”

Williamson, who has been in what she calls “the field of service” throughout her life, has drawn on her strong relationships in the North Omaha community to support several ambitious research and health promotion efforts.

“Collaboration with the community is critical for enduring change, and CT is a willing partner bringing academics and North Omaha together in meaningful ways. She became a reliable sounding board and entry point for engaging with community as investigators developed community-engaged research projects,” Dr. Anderson Berry said.

Williamson said she is pleased by Dr. Anderson Berry’s willingness to address concerns, respond to criticism and answer questions, which is part of the reason they have what she called a “wonderful” working relationship.

“That was how it all started, the fact that I’ve lived here all my life and grew up with some of these parents,” Williamson said. “It was almost as if God drew a path for me.”

Williamson pointed to a study on youth hypertension as a collaboration that was especially valuable.

“I know how prevalent hypertension is in the Black community, and it’s been attributed to a lot of things,” she said. “Because it was for our kids, that one was important to me. Because if you can be aware of it early, you can help break the barriers, and we did that.”

Said Dr. Anderson Berry, “Since accepting the CHRI advisory board position, she has been an active participant and valuable member of the group, consistently raising important questions about how research is conducted by our academic medical center, and how, if at all, this serves the North Omaha community.”

“It was easy for me to explain the research programs to the parents, talk about how we needed their daughters to participate,” Williamson said. “And because it was me who asked them, there was a sense trust, where there might not have been in a different setting or with a different person.

“There were so many things we put our heads together and did.”

Dr. Anderson Berry said, “CHRI notes the high value in collaborating with the community to advance child health research and decrease disparities in health outcomes. We are thankful to CT for her dedicated service and partnership.”

5 comments

  1. Carol Russell says:

    Carolyn,
    Congratulations, amazing lady!!
    Carol Russell

  2. Lisa Runco says:

    I am so honored to have CT in my life. She is an extraordinary person. Her wisdom is boundless. Thank you CT, for all of the contributions you have made and continue to make. Your participation on the CHRI Internal Advisory Board has played a pivotal role in CHRI’s evolution. You are so deserving of this recognition!

  3. Rev. Portia Cavitt says:

    Congratulations Ms. CT on the recognition of your faithful service to the North Omaha Community and holding UNMC accountable to do more.

  4. Precious Davis says:

    Congratulations Mrs. C.T. An honor to work alongside you. Thanks for all that you do!

  5. Heidi Keeler says:

    Hello Ms. CT! Just one of many deserved accolades! Thanks for all that you have done to better our community!

Comments are closed.