Healthy Start Director Natasha Ray Named to National Advocacy Board

Ray to Serve on Board for the Network Organization of 100+ Healthy Start Programs Across the County.

Natasha Ray (right) was a co-lecturer on community-academic partnerships at the Yale School of Medicine’s Health Equity Bootcamp 2022 with Dr. Karen Wang. Photo: Dr. Sakinah Suttiratana

New Haven Healthy Start (NHHS) Director Natasha Ray was named to the board of directors of the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA), the member organization for the network of more than 100 Healthy Start programs across the county.

The NHSA provides education and technical assistance to the programs, and advocates to sustain funding for improving birth outcomes and reducing racial and ethnic differences in rates of infant deaths and negative maternal health outcomes.

Ray has been the NHHS director since 2019, and has been on the staff since 2002, starting as a volunteer for the Healthy Start program. Prior to her role as director, Ray worked for the New Haven Healthy Start Initiative as the Consortium Development Coordinator and Core Services Manager. In these roles, Ray was responsible for developing relationships between New Haven’s community residents, medical providers and other community-based organizations to establish a Maternal and Child Health Consortium.

For more than 10 years, Ray has worked closely with the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale School of Medicine on multiple community-based participatory research projects. She has served as a connector to the community, as a co-researcher, in an advisory capacity and is the Chair of the Center for Research Engagement Steering Committee.

In 2014, Ray was a recipient of the Yale University Seton Elm-Ivy Award for her community/academic work in New Haven.

This story appears in the No. 3, 2022 edition of Connections, The Community Foundation's newsletter. Subscribe to the newsletter here.