Shana Alford named director of Evaluation and Equity
by Kathy Rivers
Public health researcher Shana Alford has joined VUMC as director of Evaluation and Equity.
This position, which spans the Office of Health Equity and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, was created as part of VUMC’s Racial Equity Plan.
In this role, Alford will evaluate the progress of the more than 200 specific actions and systems changes that VUMC and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine are taking to promote racial equity, combat structural racism and develop an inclusive organizational culture for all.
“We searched across the nation to find the ideal person for this significant role. We hit the jackpot when we found Shana,” said Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence. “Shana has a proven record in the nonprofit sector. She knows how to build productive and collegial relationships that advance goals and strategy.
“Shana’s deep expertise in data storytelling and evaluation methods will be an important way that we hold ourselves accountable and deliver on more than 200 actions in the Racial Equity Plan,” Wilkins said.
Alford brings a wealth of experience to VUMC. Most recently, she served as the vice president of research and evaluation at Common Threads, a national nonprofit that provides nutrition education and healthy cooking skills and resources in communities, as well as culinary medicine education to medical schools and health care organizations.
There, she developed an institutional framework for evaluating the nonprofit’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
She used her survey design and analysis skills and experience to advise state and county government contracts for nutrition education research and evaluation plans.
She also led data metric reporting and internal dashboards to better measure progress toward strategic and operational goals.
Prior to that, Alford served as the director of Program Evaluation in the Feeding America National Office. She led a portfolio of food security and evaluation research studies for more than six years.
A small sampling of her projects included facilitating research partnerships with food banks across the U.S. and managing the organization’s first evaluation study about the role of food banks in disaster planning and response.
She also managed one of the largest qualitative senior hunger and health studies to address food insecurity among older adults.
During the first six years of her nonprofit career, Alford served in a variety of industries, such as microfinance for banks in emerging economies, urban and regional planning for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and patient care at a Federally Qualified Health Center, which included program evaluation projects such as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded HPV risk research study among Hispanic and African American women.
Alford earned her Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and her Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.
She is a native New Yorker, who currently lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter.