ABOUT THE BLOUNT CENTER

The Blount Center endeavors to build bridges between academic, governmental, non-governmental, and religious institutions in support of sound, sustainable public health and development initiatives grounded in a shared vision of human rights and social justice. The Center focuses on addressing social-systemic factors that leave those who are most marginalized in our societies bearing the ill effects of health disparities. With this focus, the Blount Center works both in the United States and internationally to encourage gender equity, LGBT civil rights, racial and ethnic equality, and economic opportunity. The Center works collaboratively with programs at Emory University and enjoys a strong, ongoing partnership with the Emory Interfaith Health Program.

Sandra Thurman

Sandra L. Thurman • Director

Ms. Thurman joined the Blount Center as Director in 2008. She has worked on the front lines of public health policy and practice for more than two decades, serving as Executive Director of AID Atlanta, the South’s oldest and largest AIDS service organization; Director of Advocacy Programs, Task Force for Child Survival, The Carter Center; Director of the White House Office on National AIDS Policy and Presidential Envoy for AIDS Cooperation under President Clinton. She has served on the boards of numerous nonprofits including the National Kidney Foundation, March of Dimes, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Family Health International.  She also served as the Director of the Emory University Interfaith Health Program from 2008-2011.

In addition, Ms. Thurman has worked extensively with U.S. and international religious and health organizations, including World Vision, the YWCA, National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, Atlanta Interfaith AIDS Network, WHO, CDC, and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

In 2000, Ms. Thurman convened the first International White House Conference of Religious Leaders on HIV/AIDS and is a much sought after speaker and expert on HIV/AIDS, development, women’s and children’s issues, and other urgent public health concerns. In addition to her faculty duties at Rollins, she completed postgraduate studies and research in religion and health at St. Paul’s United University in Limuru, Kenya and the University of Wales, Lampeter.

John Blevins

John Blevins, ThD, MDiv  •  Associate Research Professor

John brings an interdisciplinary background in practical theology and public health program development to the work of the Blount Center and the Interfaith Health Program, where he has worked on a variety of global health initiatives.  John has directed IHP’s efforts in community health assets mapping and mobilization in Mukuru, an informal settlement on the eastern edge of Nairobi, Kenya.  In addition, he has worked to expand IHP’s teaching and research into religion’s role in public health and development models in international contexts; much of this work is has been possible through extensive collaborations between IHP and St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya.  His research endeavors to critically reflect on religious or public health practices using contemporary theology, cultural theory, and public health scholarship.

Prior to joining Emory’s faculty, Dr. Blevins coordinated clinical education programs on HIV, mental illness, and substance abuse for the Southeast AIDS Training and Education in the Emory University School of Medicine.  In the classroom, John has received awards as Faculty Person of the Year and Excellence in Teaching at Emory’s Candler School of Theology.  John has worked in HIV clinical settings as a chaplain in Chicago and as a health educator and counselor at the Grady Health System Infectious Disease Program in Atlanta.  He serves on the board of Partners in Development, a Non Governmental Organization that works to address glaring health, economic, and educational disparities in Zambia, and is the immediate Past Chair of the Board of the Atlanta Harm Reduction Center.  John has developed workshops for the Council of Churches of Zambia and is coordinating IHP’s partnership with colleagues in South Africa to understand more clearly the effects of religion on sexual health, reproductive health, and healthy families.

Mimi Kiser

Mimi Kiser, DMin, MPH, RN  •  Assistant Research Professor & Senior Program Director

Mimi Kiser has been with the Interfaith Health Program since 1993, after a first career as a community health nurse. She cut her teeth in faith and health working with Dr. Tom Droege at The Carter Center in the early years of Atlanta Interfaith Health taking on the responsibility of coordinating program planning and evaluation using a participatory approach. For five years she worked with Dr. David Hilton, facilitating Training for Transformation workshops in health ministry and public health settings. Mimi has taught “Health as Social Justice” and “Faith and Health: Transforming Communities” for Emory public health, nursing, and theology graduate students for a number of years.

From 1995 through 2006, her work at the IHP was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most recently directing the Institute for Public Health and Faith Collaborations (IPHFC). The Institute has ignited the work of 78 collaboratives in 24 states aimed at the elimination of health disparities. Dr. Kiser has contributed nationally to building the capacity of health groups to form collaborative relationships with the faith community, specifically through networks such as the American Public Health Association’s Caucus on Public Health and the Faith Community, the Coalition for Healthier Cities and Communities’ Faith Action Team, and the Health Ministries Association. Her on the ground work took on new dimensions when she took on part time work from 1996 to 2001 as Coordinator of Parish Health Ministry for St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

She is currently chair of Emory’s Religion and Health Collaborative Academic Programs Working Group. Through her leadership, IHP and Emory’s new collaborative are contributing innovative education and training models to the faith and health movement. Mimi earned her doctorate in ministry in Faith and the Health of Communities at Wesley Seminary in D.C.