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Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

Health Equity Activation Think Tank

HEATT, 2024

The Health Equity Activation Think Tank's (HEATT) goal is to increase Black infant and maternal vitality in Montgomery County through evidence-based solutions that center the experiences and knowledge of Black women as starting points for health and healing.

In the Fall of 2021, Fitz Center partner organizations asked to convene to think and plan together around health inequities impacting Dayton and Montgomery County residents. With a group of 25 community members and several University of Dayton faculty and staff, the group met regularly for several months at the Fitz Center. The health inequity the collective expressed the most concern about is the high rate in Black infant and maternal mortality in Montgomery County. In the summer of 2022, The Dayton Foundation awarded the Fitz Center with a Del Mar Encore Fellow and partnered with the Fitz Center to hire Sharon Hawkins as the director of HEATT.

Ms. Hawkins has a masters in Public Administration and is a former nursing professor, former Cleveland Clinic nurse and health equity practitioner who had deep connections and respect in Dayton. With Ms. Hawkins shaping vision and direction for HEATT, she started forming HEATT by first bringing on Black doulas, lactation specialists, birth mothers and residents from the most impacted zip codes.

Several HEATT retreats have been held, with the first one in March 2023. From this six key priorities emerged  to reduce Black infant and maternal mortality:

  1. Exploring and creating awareness around race bias and equity practices in healthcare.
  2. Analyzing research and utilizing  evidence-based solutions that have been effective in other regions and shaping them for impact in Dayton.
  3. Understanding, analyzing, and utilizing data, including at the neighborhood level.
  4. Changing the narrative and mental models around Black infant and maternal mortality.
  5. Moving forward legislation to impact Black infant and maternal mortality.
  6. Increasing the impact of doulas.

Following a collective impact model, the group formed into action groups to move each of these priorities forward.

Organizations involved with HEATT:

  • Fitz Center for Leadership in Community
  • The Dayton Foundation
  • Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health
  • Greater Dayton Hospital Association
  • Omega CDC
  • University of Dayton
  • Dayton Children’s Hospital
  • Boonshoft School Medicine
  • Pri Med Physicians
  • Moms 2 Be
  • Milk Mamas
  • Queens’ Village
  • Brunner Literacy Center
  • Conscious Moma LLC
  • Eden's Harvest
  • Kettering Hospital Community Health Workers Program
  • HAYA Healing


Fitz Center for Leadership in Community

1401 S. Main Street
Dayton, Ohio 45409