ASSESSING COMMUNITY STRENGTHS AND DYNAMICS
Community-academic research projects typically have an advisory or leadership board. Ideally, these boards are composed of those individuals with a documented history of community accomplishment related to project implementation. Boards that are filled by community and/or academic representatives due to their name reputation or title, without front-line accomplishment or experience with community-academic partnership, often have diminished success and influence. The most successful boards we have worked with are composed of leaders who work closely with the community regardless of their title or status, and would continue to do so even if no current project existed. These boards operate most successfully when there is shared leadership and power within the operating structure. Ways to promote these goals are (1) having a cofacilitator structure where a community leader and an academic/public health representative coplan and cofacilitate meetings, (2) having more community representatives than noncommunity representatives on the board, and (3) creating an environment where experiential knowledge is valued equally to academic knowledge.