Naomi Pomerantz | She/Her/Hers
SexLab Research Assistant | Ann Arbor, MI
Michigan Forward in Enhancing Research and Community Equity (MFierce), is a partnership of community organizations, youth advocates, and public health researchers working together to reduce STIs among young sexual and gender minority youth in Southeast Michigan. MFierce is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Approaches to Reducing STIs Program and is a project of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
MFierce is a coalition that utilizes a shared decision-making process among all partners to address STIs in our region. MFierce is comprised of three entities; a SexLab team, a group of Youth Advisory Board (YAB) members who are youth advocates, ages 20-30, and a Steering Committee of organization and agency representatives. We are currently implementing the Health Access Initiative, a LGBTQ+ cultural responsiveness training and technical assistance program for local clinics and health centers. Our second initiative is developing the Advocacy Collective, an LGBTQ+ youth health advocate organization.
In the spirit of promoting LGBTQ+ affirming resources and services, check out this great event this month: the Michigan Primary Care Association is hosting a LGBT Health Summit. Taking place Monday, June 13 from 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM at the Double Tree by Hilton in Bay City, Michigan. Check out more information on the event here.
How did you get involved with MFierce?
- Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, I had read about SexLab and MFierce, and I was very interested in working there. Luckily, I got hired to work on this project.
The MFierce Coalition uses a community-engaged approach where decision-making is shared among the three entities. That sounds complex. What are the most important take aways from using participatory processes?
- It allows people from community organizations and from the community in general as well as researchers to come together. Each entity brings their unique experiences and views which creates greater ideas.
When I talk to people about MFierce, I tell them…
- It’s a research project on reducing STI rates among LGBTQ youth in Southeast Michigan through structural changes.
“Community” is a word people use a lot but don’t always define. What does it mean to you?
- For me, community means a group of people who come together and support each other.
How do you define “justice”?
- I think that justice is about fairness and equity but must be informed by experiences of oppression.
What else is going on in your life that you would like to share?
- I’m excited to start the second year of my MPH/MSW program.
If you could look into the future, what would you tell your future self?
- I would say, “everything will be okay” and “remember to be kind to yourself.”
And the most important question of our time, if you were a crayon, what color would you be?
- I think it would be blush or cyan.