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Ninfa Peña-Purcell

Peña-Purcell elected to national public health education board

Ninfa Peña-Purcell will serve on Society for Public Health Education Board as trustee of Professional Development and Continuing Education

Ninfa Peña-Purcell, PhD, MCHES, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Health Center for Population Health and Aging, has been elected to the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) 2021-2022 Board of Trustees as the Professional Development and Continuing Education trustee.

“In my two-year term, I will work hard to build on the exceptional work SOPHE has done in providing high-quality continuing education to public health educators nationally. I hope to bring new ideas on how to best serve SOPHE membership with their professional development needs,” Peña-Purcell said. “This position will allow me to contribute to advancing the public health profession in a meaningful way by identifying gaps in education and resources that SOPHE can offer to professionals along the career continuum. The continuing education needs differ for those new in the field to those late in their career.”

SOPHE is a non-profit, independent professional organization promoting global leadership for health promotion and health education. Peña-Purcell will serve a two-year term beginning April 6, 2021, where she will work with the Professional Development Committee to develop webinars, distance continuing education courses and self-study. In addition, she will work with the Continuing Education Committee to develop and implement SOPHE policy and procedures related to Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)/Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and Certified in Public Health (CPH) credit awarding.

In addition to her election to the SOPHE Board of Trustees, Peña-Purcell received an American Diabetes Association (ADA) Know Diabetes by Heart (KDBH) Community Grant, for the Your Diabetes, Your Heart program in the amount of $100,000.

“The Your Diabetes, Your Heart is a joint effort with ADA to promote heart health among people with diabetes,” she said. “Many individuals with diabetes do not fully understand the link between diabetes and heart disease. There is a great need for education on this topic because of the high rates of diabetes and heart disease comorbidity. Through this collaboration, we will join forces with ADA to respond to this need both in Texas and nationally.”

Your Diabetes, Your Heart is a community collaborative initiative that will integrate the ADA’s Know Your Diabetes by Heart educational resources into diabetes self-management education programs. These programs will be offered in virtual/online and face-to-face formats, with a goal to improve diabetes and cardiovascular knowledge and self-care skills among people with type 2 diabetes, particularly those in underserved, minority populations.

“The emphasis of my career has been in providing research-based, culturally-tailored diabetes self-management education for underserved groups, particularly Hispanic/Latinos and African Americans. This work includes the programs ¡Sí, Yo Puedo Controlar Mí Diabetes! and Wisdom, Power Control, which I am lead author on curriculum writing and development,” Peña-Purcell said. “Through this work, I have observed that people with diabetes need connection to new information to better manage their diabetes. Your Diabetes, Your Heart provides critical information on diabetes and heart disease that is not typically offered in self-management programs. This initiative is a way to expand the educational offerings provided to people with diabetes.”

Since 2013, Peña-Purcell has served on the Texas Diabetes Council outcomes subcommittee. She serves on the Division Board for Certification of Health Education Specialists and is a board member for the National Commission for Health Education Specialists. Peña-Purcell is a certified community health worker instructor, allowing her to train community health workers and/or promotoras to implement ¡Sí, Yo Puedo Controlar Mí Diabetes! and Wisdom, Power, Control. Her research interests include minority health disparities, especially among Hispanic/Latinos, culture competency, cancer prevention, chronic disease prevention and management, and worksite health promotion.

“We are pleased to have a curricular development expert join the center, and especially appreciative of the expertise she brings in designing culturally appropriate education materials that will help reduce health disparities across the life-course,” said Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, founding director of the Center for Population Health and Aging.

Media contact: Dee Dee Grays,, 979.436.0611

Lauren Rouse

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