Stephen Fawcett steps down as director of Work Group on Community Health and Development

Stephen Fawcett steps down as director of Work Group on Community Health and Development

Karen Salisbury Henry

After forty years, Stephen B. Fawcett, who founded and directs the Work Group on Community Health and Development, and was honored with the first Kansas Health Foundation Professorship in Applied Behavioral Science, will be retiring from both roles August 14. He will, however, continue with the Work Group on a part-time basis as Senior Advisor.

Fawcett led efforts in how to apply science to understand community development and public health in ways that have influenced regional and state and then national policy through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute for Medicine of the National Academies. In 2004 Fawcett and colleagues’ contribution was recognized as having global importance with its designation as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Community Health and Development.

Likewise, he led the creation of the Community Tool Box, a free online resource of some 7000 pages of exhaustive, step-by-step information on how communities and even NGO and governmental bodies can tackle complicated social challenges. The goal: supporting global capacity building efforts. Now in Arabic and Spanish, the CTB has some 13,000 inbound links from other websites. Healthy People 2020, the nation’s public health blueprint, makes extensive use of the CTB in its implementation support for communities.

The youthful Fawcett has never slowed down and in recent years, collaborating with colleagues across the globe, mentoring and, as he would put it, “co-learning,” has led to work on the Ebola epidemic with the WHO African Regional Office and “enskinment” as the Development Chief for the Binduri District of Northern Region, Ghana.

“Steve Fawcett has long provided the best exemplar of community-engaged research here at KU,” said LSI Director John Colombo. “He and his team have worked with tenacity and enthusiasm in pursing solutions to societal problems and in helping communities help themselves.  His work here at LSI has had impact for both academic scholars and for the citizens of this state, this nation and the world.”