On October 12th, our friend and colleague Keesha Dumas was recognized as an Emerging Leader by Oregon Public Health Association. This award is given to a person who has demonstrated leadership, innovation, and creativity in the beginning of his/her public health career.
LaKeesha Dumas was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She is certified by the state of Oregon as both a Community Health Worker and a Peer Support Specialist (PSS). The PSS designation adds another layer to the way her community embraces her as she shares her lived experience with community members, allowing for increased trust in their relationships. She was recently nominated for the 2014 Genius Award by the Oregon Public Health Institute. LaKeesha is one of the Chairs of the Traditional Health Workers Commission and has been influential in policy decisions relating to the field of traditional health workers. From the streets to policy, she is passionate about the health of her community.
Zeenia Junkeer, our Community Health Worker Program Coordinator said, “Keesha saw the need for culturally specific caregivers in her community and went above and beyond the call of her position to advocate and fight for the Avel Gordly center to open up slots for African American community members who were unable to access services previously. Keesha doesn’t take no for an answer when it comes to securing services and advocating for the rights and needs of the community members she serves.”
LaKeesha was one of the original Community Health Workers on the Urban League’s Warriors of Wellness Project which focused on building a model in which coordinated care organizations can contract with community based organizations for culturally specific community health worker services. She is now working in collaboration with the Health Resiliency Team through CareOregon and is embedded in the Multnomah County Northeast Health Center as well as Emmanuel Hospital, both located in the community in which she lives and works.
In addition to her work with the Urban League, and her service on the Oregon Community Health Workers Commission, LaKeesha also spends time volunteering for Miracles Club, Portland Black PFLAG, and many culturally-specific peer groups for women in recovery. LaKeesha has also volunteered as a GED instructor at Straightways, a program designed to help address the needs of people with poor access to educational opportunities.