J. Elisha “Eli” Burke grew up in rural northeastern North Carolina in an area with little local access to medical care and prevention. Dr. Burke is a Richmond resident has been involved in health promotion initiatives to improve the health of underserved populations, particularly African Americans since 1994. As an active board member for several health organizations, he is often the non-scientist helping health agencies understand the perspectives of the poor and marginalized as an essential part of their efforts to improve health outcomes for all citizens. As an ordained minister, former pastor and currently a nonprofit director and Interim Ministry Specialist he is focused on Christian Education as the foundation for taking care of ourselves – body, mind and spirit. He is the author of Faith Beyond the Pews: An Experience in Christian Education
Kathy grew up in Mt. Airy, NC and lives in Blacksburg, VA. She has worked with Dr. Burke and BGCVA for over ten years, first with Balanced Living with Diabetes from 2009 to 2016. Spending time with congregation members in 33 BGCVA churches for the diabetes program was so rewarding and inspiring, and she was sad when that project ended. Our participants wanted programs for families to keep their kids healthy. It took almost two years, and four grant proposals, but we finally got the opportunity to serve 24 churches with both healthy lifestyle and financial management programs! Kathy is so happy to be spending time with BGCVA families and coordinators again. The traveling is worth it to be among and serve such special people.
Ms. Bev hails from Danville, VA. She worked with Virginia Cooperative Extension under the SNAP Ed Program for 15 years in Danville City and Pittsylvania County, where she taught nutritional education to seniors and young families using research-based information from Virginia Tech. She also volunteers with Extension when needed. Ms. Bev joined EHF in 2016. Her favorite part of the program is meeting new people and helping them learn new ways of doing things to make life better.
Monica hails from Danville, VA and has been a part of the EHF team since 2016. She started as a Doctoral student under Dr. Kathy Hosig. This is where her interest in faith-based health and wellness programming began. She served as the Graduate Assistant for the Balanced Living with Diabetes project from 2012-2014. Concurrently, she developed a tool to help churches assess their capacity and readiness to collaboratively deliver health-based programs for her dissertation work. Monica is thrilled to continue such work with the EHF project. As the Project Manager, she experiences the collective hard work of the EHF and church teams to deliver such a great program. She’s inspired by the families and church teams that come together to improve generational health and wellness from one family member to the next. Her favorite parts of the program are the great discussions, stories, and laughter participants experience together.
The Reverend Tonia M. Burruss
Center for Public Health Practice and Research, Virginia Tech
General Board Member & Chair, Christian Education commission
Baptist General Convention of Virginia
Rev. Toni is a lifelong Town of Ashland resident and has served the Lord in various capacities and ministries within her church and community. She has supported and worked with the Baptist General Convention for many years and currently represents the Convention by serving on the EHF Advisory board and team. She enjoys watching and participating with church members while they learn healthy eating and lifestyles and have fun doing so. In addition, she has witnessed congregations grow closer and change their culinary habits in their hospitality ministries.
Oziomachukwu is originally from Nigeria and grew up in Reston, VA. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Public Health with a concentration in Health Education. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development from Virginia Tech. As a public health professional, she strives to serve the African American community through leveraging her education, experiences, and skills to help the community in three ways, health communication, reaching health equity, and helping to reduce/eliminate health disparities. Oziomachukwu is excited to serve as the graduate research assistant for this program because of its impact on the African American communities it serves.