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Baltimore Action Projects


Baltimore Action Projects are a collaboration of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative and JHU SOURCE focused on helping to reshape the national public health agenda. The projects focus on five areas affecting public health:

In partnership with the Initiative's working groups and SOURCE partnering community-based organizations (CBOs), Baltimore Action Projects are community-identified projects which directly connect to the Initiative's focus areas. Through the Initiative's funding, graduate students from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing are hired to work a minimum of 100 hours to complete Baltimore Action Projects in partnership with CBOs.



Meet the 2023-24 Baltimore Action Projects Cohort

Kathleen Dedora

MHA Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Addiction and Overdose 
  • Community Partner: Intersection of Change
  • Project Title: "Martha's Place"

Kathleen is a current MHA student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Improving lives and addressing industry challenges drive Kathleen’s passion for healthcare administration. Kathleen received a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology, with a minor in Economics from Emory University. During this time Kathleen worked as an Emergency Medical Technician for Central EMS Headquarters and as an intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) intern. Kathleen understands the importance of engaging with her local community alongside her educational pursuits to gain a deeper understanding of the populations she hopes to serve throughout her career. Kathleen’s ultimate goal, and primary reason for her dedication to healthcare administration and SOURCE, is to elevate her knowledge and skills to help as many people as possible.

Ayush Kumar

MPH Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Addiction and Overdose 
  • Community Partner: Pride Center of Maryland
  • Project Title: "Pathways to Recovery: Linking Patients to Medication"

My name is Ayush Kumar (he/him/his) and I'm a full-time MPH student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health concentrating in Infectious Diseases and aiming for a certificate in Community-Based Public Health. Before starting at BSPH, I was 3 years into a 4-year MD program at UCSF School of Medicine. My areas of interest include harm reduction, LGBTQIA+ health, houselessness, and disability rights and justice. I aspire to be an infectious disease physician promoting health equity and providing care for underserved urban communities, with the ultimate goal of uplifting and empowering as many of their lives as possible through healthcare and advocacy. I'm excited to have the opportunity to be here, to share my passion for community with my peers, and work with some amazing community-based organizations to see their visions for Baltimore come together!

James "Keoni" Morris

MHS Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Addiction and Overdose 
  • Community Partner: HEBCAC
  • Project Title: "Dee's Place"

James "Keoni" Morris is a current MHS student in the Metal Health department of the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He received his B.S. in Criminology and Psychology from Florida State University. His previous research experience focused on the determinants and outcomes of harmful alcohol use and emotion dysregulation. His current interests surround mental health services in low-income and underrepresented populations. He is also interested in unique statistical methods for analyzing both individual and community-level health behavior data. Outside of research, James enjoys playing soccer, chess, and speed running video games.

Ella Rossa

MPH Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Adolescent Health
  • Community Partner: Banner Neighborhoods
  • Project Title: "Engaging Youth in Sports"

My name is Ella, and I am a full-time Master of Public Health student concentrating in Social and Behavioral Sciences in Public Health. I am originally from Oak Park, Illinois, and I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Amherst College in 2021. Prior to studying at Johns Hopkins, I worked as a clinical research coordinator at the Center for Women’s Mental Health at Massachusetts General Hospital. My primary interests are in public mental health, health communication, and health behavior. During undergrad, I was a captain of my track and field team, which has fostered my passion for promoting emotionally healthy relationships with physical activity. For fun I like to try new restaurants, go to museums, and watch the Green Bay Packers.

Laura Valderrama Figueroa

MSPH Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Food Systems for Health
  • Community Partner: Asylee Women Enterprise
  • Project Title: "Food Access Project"

Laura Sofia Valderrama Figueroa is a second-year MSPH student in the Human Nutrition program at the International Health Department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She was born and raised in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and graduated from Iowa State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Spanish minor. After completing her undergraduate degree, she worked as a research assistant in animal research and infectious diseases.   As a graduate student, Laura is passionate about academic and community engagement in Baltimore. She serves as a Bloomberg Student Ambassador and a member of Science in Action. Through Science in Action, Laura teaches and shares her passion for STEM with William Paca Elementary School students, specifically using her native Spanish-speaking background to offer interactive lessons to Spanish-speaking students. She was selected as a 2023 Dr. James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Disease RISE Summer Fellow through the Kennedy Krieger Institute. As a RISE fellow, she completed a health equity research project evaluating the potential health disparities across outbreak investigation data linked to animal contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Enteric Zoonoses Activity team. Upon graduation, Laura hopes to complete a fellowship in infectious disease, health equity, or nutrition before pursuing an MD degree specializing in internal medicine.   

Courtney Wheeler

DRPH Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Food Systems for Health
  • Community Partner: Baltimore Food Policy Initiative
  • Project Title: "Understanding Food Access in Urban Planning"

Courtney Wheeler, MPH is a first year DrPH student in the Health Equity and Social Justice Track. She completed her MPH at Saint Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice with a joint concentration in Behavioral Health/Health Education and Epidemiology. She also has a graduate certificate in Sustainable Urban Planning from George Washington University. Courtney currently works on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of Food is Medicine (FIM) initiatives in the DMV area.  She has an interest in urban agriculture, in particular BIPOC farmers as well as the intersection of food and health. She hopes to contribute to creating a sustainable and equitable food system and is excited about the opportunity to work with the Food Policy and Planning Division in the Baltimore City Department of Planning.

Lyndon Wood

MBE Student, BSPH
  • Focus Area: Adolescent Health
  • Community Partner: MissionFit
  • Project Title: "MissionFit Coach Recruitment"

Lyndon Wood is an MBE student at BSPH and is also playing for the Johns Hopkins varsity women’s soccer team in the fall. Prior to JHU, she graduated magna cum laude from Wake Forest University in May 2023 earning her BS in Biology with Honors and a minor in chemistry. While at Wake, she was a D1 athlete on the women’s soccer team, served two years as the Student Athlete Advisory Committee President and held a seat on the ACC Student Athlete Advisory Committee. In undergrad, Lyndon worked as a clinical research assistant for two years at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital, a part-time nanny, and a youth soccer coach/trainer. She was a 4 year recipient of Dean’s List and ACC Honor Roll recognition and was awarded the ACC Top 6 for Service award for outstanding community service efforts in both 2019 and 2020.