Nazeera is like you. Her life has been filled with challenges, victories, disappointments, happiness and struggles but just like you she bounces back. We live in America, a country of opportunity and freedom.
Dr. Nazeera Dawood is a leader that has lived her life creating healthier communities, economies and giving individuals the knowledge to believe in their personal power to pursue all of their professional and personal ambitions. She came from a family background where the pursuit of knowledge and education was highly valued. Ironically, in her orthodox community, women and higher education were not compatible and did not go together. Women in her community have always been told that females belong in the kitchen cooking, cleaning and serving others. Her mother, who had not studied past the 5th grade, would always give her the inspiration and the motivation to study further.
On days when she would stay up late studying, her mother and father’s words would resonate in her mind. Throughout the day, her mother would reiterate the fact that education is very important for upward mobility and giving back to others in the community is essential to a balanced life. As a child, she entered and won many Oratorical Contests. After winning many speech contests, she was known as an exceptional public speaker. As a result of her mother and father’s influence, Nazeera Dawood has shared her knowledge in many national seminars and training sessions. None of these achievements came without a challenge. She was one of the first women in her family to attend professional college and receive several advanced degrees.
Her faith is in the American and the global spirit that grows every time we can come together in as communities to listen, share and find that common ground that exists among all of us. There is power when all of us, as Americans / global citizens come together to build our community. Recently, she exercised this spirit when she gathered a team of dedicated citizens and built a health coalition that has touched many lives. We have planted gardens, created healthier internal air and empowered many people and even a 92-year old lady to become a champion in her community for health. Her success in bringing together over 300 organizations to create a coalition comprised of corporations, grassroots residents and government officials was based upon the belief that all change must begin with the people and be shaped in the hands of the community.
Value of Education: Her mother made sure that learning to read and write many languages was priority. Education and access to knowledge was given the utmost importance. During her early years she learned to speak multiple languages. Currently, she speaks 5 languages. She did not study all of these languages at school. She learned many of these languages through private tutoring from her mother and friends. They taught her the skill of reading and writing many languages and appreciating language and diversity. Her dad was a great mathematician and engineer. He took time throughout the week to tutor her in mathematics, algebra and geometry. Another value that was instilled in her childhood was the importance of giving back to the community. When she was six years old, she promised her mother, that she would become a doctor and serve the poor. Listening to these words was a distant dream for her mother, as education was not a priority in women from her community. But that was a promise that she would keep. In 1997, her mother witnessed Dr. Dawood receiving her medical doctor degree from Bangalore University. Her mother was overjoyed and her joy was priceless. Her mother believes that she paved the way for the others in the community by giving them inspiration and proof that dreams are possible.
Career Shift from treatment to prevention: As she began her medical career, she realized that serving the patients individually was not just enough. Nazeera Dawood saw a larger vision. She wanted to expand her work to the broader community. She wanted to make a positive impact in the lives of children and families in the community. She had a desire to understand and listen to the community around her and then give them the informational tools to create positive impact. In an effort to ensure, that she was able to communicate with all of her patients that she treated; she learned 5 different languages. Her fluency in five additional languages gave her a greater appreciation of the community’s cultural diversity. Based on her desire to not simply treat diseases but prevent diseases she applied to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC). She graduated from masters of public health program at UNC, Chapel Hill and used this knowledge of public health to begin implementing educational programs that would bring immediate positive changes to Indian and American communities.
Professional Influences: Luckily, under the mentorship of Dr. Kausalya Devi, she learned the principles of patient empathy, communication and truly caring for each patients individual medical needs. All of this guidance, was built upon the care and undivided attention and guidance from her father; Mr. Dawood. She had one of the greatest opportunity in her life working at Kasturba Hospital, Gandhigram, India. She served many patients as a doctor in Kasturba Hospital. On many occasions patients would wait, to see her because she was empathetic and gave each person respect, compassion and committed medical care. Each patient that waited specifically for her, had a deep desire for someone to listen to their story and that is what Dr. Dawood would provide for each patient. It brought a sense of well being to them when their doctor listened to them carefully. Sometimes she would shed tears along with them, while listening to their stories. The biggest obstacle that she faced was implementing specialized therapies to treat antenatal mothers who were HIV positive. She did not give up as each procedure made her more determined to acquire fair and balanced treatment for patients living with HIV. She was the leader of this special focus on antenatal mothers living with HIV and was involved in implementing this program throughout the hospital. Later, after she left the hospital patients and staff privately named the initiative “Dr. Nazeera’s program”. In her current role leading the Health Promotion Division in a District level, she has served as a preceptor for more than 30 University inters / Fellows educating them on public health pathways to success.
Community Leadership: One of the values instilled in Nazeera during her childhood was the importance of giving back to the community. Over the years, she has volunteered in many free medical camps that offered free service to the indigent and low-income population and also worked as a community organizer to develop programs and skits to increase the knowledge and awareness of diseases of public health importance to patients. She has used her abilities to assist the young college students and those in pursuit of their post college degrees. She believes that we all must use our ability to improve the lives of others which she has committed her entire life to for many years. Even though she has been involved in research projects on various topics: diabetes, smoking, obesity and cardiovascular disease, the focus always returns to philanthropy and giving back to the community. Nazeera is the current President of the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA), has served as a Board member / Founder of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Atlanta Chapter & Georgia Alliance for Health Literacy. She has collaborated with several local entities to initiate projects to promote preventive health, civic engagement, youth leadership and unity. She has served two term committee member of the Health Equity and Social Justice Committee at the NACCHO.
University and Academic Experiences: In her master’s program at the University of North Carolina, she completed courses in “Myths of Cultural Competence. She found the class discussions fascinating because it helped her understand the connection between culture, language and race. In her work history at Emory, it can be noted that she trained and supervised more than five research assistants and a graduate student with their research projects and helped them achieve their goals. She has done multiple presentations on various research projects in local, regional and national forums. She also served in the President’s Commission on race and ethnicity committee and participated in Transforming the Community project.
Research Focus: Her research focus at this point remains to be on health care disparities, tobacco cessation strategies and cardiovascular / renal research outcomes. In her previous position as a Research Programs Manager at Emory University, she was involved in clinical research studies involving cardiovascular and kidney diseases. She has participated in the study development and start-up process including reviewing protocols, designing, reviewing case report forms, and also preparing Informed Consent forms for National Institute of Health Studies. She has developed and disseminated invaluable information for a variety of audiences, including scientists and other non-profit organizations. She has received national recognition for the importance of Smoking Cessation Program manuscript in patients with heart diseases and have presented these research findings at several national and international meetings. During her vacation to India, she educated the youth on common medical and addiction problems. The community service that she completed in three weeks in Dec ‘09 –Jan’10 created many inquiries and questions from the youth. Dr. Dawood wanted them to be aware, ask questions and be aware of the various methods to prevent these illnesses. Nazeera Dawood wanted to be the voice for the unheard and the unspoken She believes that religion, caste, creed , wealth ,power or politics should not in anyway define charity. Her driving force everyday is how can she increase the knowledge and power of everyone to pursue their own happiness. Serving the poor is in her heart, genes and future.
Government Stewardship: Since her recruitment to the Fulton County Department of Health & Wellness, she oversees a vigorous outcomes oriented Health Promotion Division focusing on quality, cost-effectiveness, use of practice guidelines in combating the leading causes of death in Fulton County, evaluation and shifting the focus from sickness and disease to wellness and prevention. Dr. Nazeera Dawood is a prime example of the type of public health professional needed in order to bring prevention to the forefront of America’s health outcomes. She combines her medical background, research training, and passion for the community in everything she does; creating a well-rounded and methodical approach to all of the endeavors she oversees in the Office of Health Promotion. Dr. Dawood demonstrated great expertise and tact in addressing the questions and concerns of both her superiors and peers, and she has taken on the daunting task of becoming an expert on coalitions and how to make them work. She was sure to reinforce the need to make policy, system, and environmental changes in order to create sustainable improvements, and also stressed evaluation and methods-based approaches at every step. She is a prime example of a well-trained public health professional, who is able to practice what she preaches and conduct the work of Health Promotion with compassion and finesse.
A change agent in the Public Health System: The approaches to mitigate the impact of chronic disease involved identifying and galvanizing community resources for more effective and efficient use through building a Health Promotion Action Coalition (HPAC]). Nazeera Dawood is the Founder / facilitator for HPAC that was pulled together in a very short time. HPAC was established to ensure that Fulton County residents become the healthiest in Georgia and in the US through collective and effective partnerships. HPAC coalitions are dedicated to improving community health outcomes through health promotion strategies that have proven effective at reducing and eliminating health disparities. By building HPAC, 450 multisectoral agencies across Fulton County were brought to the table through these coalitions to focus on health and bringing prevention to the forefront. HPAC is organized using a traditional coalition model; building consensus among the coalition members and co-chairs of each active coalition to identify the leadership. She combines her medical background, research training, and passion for the community in everything she does; creating a well-rounded and methodical approach to all of the endeavors she oversees. Depriving herself of sleep for the past decade, Nazeera has done everything humanly possible to benefit public health.
Political office / administration:
Inspired by her passion to serve others and her talents to deliver on the best for the citizens of Johns Creek, she ran for public office. This was a campaign of inclusion. Local business leaders, excited homeowners, friends from across the state and local political leaders showed their support for her run for public office. Through effective collaborations, collective wisdom and mutual support, Nazeera believes we can achieve the greatest impact in our community. As a Chief of Staff at the Office of the Chairman for the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Nazeera facilitated the human trafficking awareness coalition, expungement program, interfaith task force and was responsible for assisting with the passage of more than 20 resolutions that directly and positively impacted community outcomes. Local business leaders, excited Johns Creek homeowners, friends from across the state and local political leaders have all shown their support. It is a testament to how we will win – by bringing together the grassroots with local business leaders.