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Abby Charles

Institute for Public Health Innovation

Abby Charles is a Senior Program Manager at the Institute for Public Health Innovation, providing leadership and coordination for Community Health Worker Initiatives, managing a network of peer Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs that address cross- jurisdictional policy making and information sharing, program refinement, implementation, and evaluation.

Ms. Charles leads a team that has set IPHI apart as one of the DC, MD and VA region’s leading partners in the development, coordination and evaluation of CHW-based direct service models. From her start in 2011 when IPHI employed zero CHWs to today where IPHI directly employs 30 FT and PT CHWs who are placed at community-based and clinical partners throughout the region to help people access and stay engaged in medical care and support services. Ms. Charles has worked with her team to create dozens of CHW jobs throughout the region based at partner sites such as community-based organizations, clinics, hospitals, Medicaid Managed Care organizations, health departments and other sites.

Through her leadership, IPHI has become recognized as one of the DC, MD and VA region’s leading trainers of CHWs having trained over 400 CHWs since 2011 following national best practices focused on enhancing CHW core competencies.  IPHI has developed a comprehensive training and continuing education program and has trained and continues to support CHWs employed throughout the region. Ms. Charles was involved in refining the University of D.C. Community College’s recently established training course, and served as one of its faculty members. 

Co-convened with the DC primary Care Association, Ms. Charles staffs the DC Prevention and Medicaid Taskforce - the District of Columbia workgroup on CHW workforce development and financing to define CHW scope of practice, core competencies, and training requirements, and to make recommendations on certification, credentialing, and financing, including through Medicaid. Her team also supports the convening of the CHW Associations, in DC, MD and VA.

Ms. Charles provides oversight to a portfolio of about 10 CHW-based health service programs; each of which provides a combination of screening, outreach, health education disease self-management support, referrals and navigation to health and social services and one-one-one support to well over 1500 individuals, many of whom are Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, link to and stay engaged in medical care. IPHI’s programs focus on cardiovascular health, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and reproductive health, as well as one that cuts across health areas. Many of IPHI’s programs focus on integrating CHWs into a clinical care team, which often includes nurses, case managers and other licensed professionals. IPHI also provides training on that team integration.

Prior to IPHI Ms. Charles spent five years at The Women’s Collective, an organization providing care, prevention, and advocacy services for women, girls and their families living with and at risk for HIV in the Metropolitan D.C. area. Ms. Charles presently serves on the boards of the Women’s Collective and The Well Project and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, DC.