New leader announced for community health research group

Vincent Francisco has been selected to oversee the leadership team at the KU Work Group for Community Health and Development, one of 14 affiliated research centers of the University of Kansas Life Span Institute.

He will also hold the Kansas Health Foundation Professorship in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

He will assume both positions upon the retirement of Work Group founding director Stephen Fawcett on Aug. 14.

Francisco, who previously served as associate director of the KU Work Group and assistant research professor, comes back to KU after 11 years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he was an associate professor with the Department of Public Health Education and director of the Doctor of Public Health Program.

He continued his ties to KU in the intervening years as a partner of the WHO (World Health Organization) Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development, which operates under the auspices of the KU Work Group as one of the few such centers in the United States.

 “We are so pleased to attract Vince to the leadership team,” Fawcett said. “An internationally recognized leader, he brings deep experience in the science and practice of community health improvement. His passion for discovery and application will help the KU Work Group have an even greater impact in its next 40 years.”

“I could not be happier to welcome Vince back to the university in this role,” said LSI director John Colombo. “He brings energy, enthusiasm and a tremendous work ethic to the task of sustaining the productivity and impact of the Work Group.”

Francisco’s research interests lie in community health and development, especially for marginalized groups. He had a major role in the development of the Work Group’s signature achievement, the Community Tool Box, an online resource for community development and public health used by more than 5.8 million people from 230 countries last year.

Francisco’s current research portfolio includes research on factors affecting community and systems change, building the capacity of community members to engage in community health improvement initiatives and environmental changes associated with improvement at the community level.