Elmer R. Freeman, MSW
Executive Director
Center for Community Health Education Research and Services
Elmer R. Freeman, MSW is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. (CCHERS, pronounced “cheers”) an academic/community partnership established in 1991 with a $6 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. CCHERS is a unique partnership among Boston Medical Center, the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston University School of Medicine, Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and fifteen “academic community health centers” serving the diverse racial and ethnic underserved populations of the central city neighborhoods of Boston. He is also an adjunct assistant professor and Director of Urban Health Programs and Policy for Bouvé College of Health Sciences.   He served as Executive Director/CEO of the Whittier Street Health Center in Boston for 17 years prior to joining CCHERS. His leadership of CCHERS, since 1997, has led to its recognition as a national model of an academic/community partnership promoting academic-community engagement and community-based participatory research (CBPR).


Mr. Freeman is a recognized expert in the application of CBPR principles in partnerships with academic researchers to address disparities and inequalities in health and health care of underserved communities. He served on the “expert panel” for AHRQ Evidence Report No. 99, Community Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence and coauthored a journal article on this topic, which was published in the Journal of Urban Health in November 2006. He has served as an investigator on research funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. His research areas of interest are in the social, economic and political determinants of health status of minority populations; the impact of the internalization of racism on the manifestation of health risk behaviors among oppressed groups; and incorporating evidence based practice in the management of chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension in health center patient populations. He views research as essential to improving quality and health outcomes for at-risk populations and for promoting social and economic justice in vulnerable communities. He is also actively involved in the development of CBPR partnerships between academic medical centers and the diverse communities of Boston. He is Steering Committee member of the Tufts University Clinical Translational Science Institute, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Community Research Network, and cofounder of the Community Health and Academic Medicine Partnership with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Mr. Freeman is involved nationally with Community-Campus Partnerships for Health, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Community Health Centers. In 2007, Mr. Freeman was appointed to a four year term on the Council of Public Representatives, an advisory committee to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, where he has an opportunity to help shape and inform policy as NIH begins to define “authentic” community engagement as part of its agenda to transform clinical and translational research.


Mr. Freeman has made more than 40 presentations at conferences and scientific meetings in the past seven years, including several keynotes. He is an accomplished facilitator with experience bringing consensus from groups with conflicting interests and serves as a consultant to schools and programs in public health in their efforts to promote community engagement and scholarship in research partnerships with communities as part of CCPH’s Engaged Institutions Initiative and Health Disparities Service-Learning Collaborative.

Mr. Freeman received his M.S.W. from Boston College Graduate School for Social Work and is working toward a doctoral degree.