Heather Kennedy, MPH is a justice-oriented youth engagement expert. Heather has over ten years of professional experience in youth empowerment, youth organizing, community mobilization, social action, and youth policy advocacy. She has supported youth on a variety of social issues including mental health, racism, tobacco control, and healthy eating and active living.
Heather is also in her 3rd year of a PhD program at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. Her dissertation explores how adults either suppress or support middle school youth voice within empowerment-based after school programs. She argues that young people are ready to lead; and that adults often are often unwilling to give up the power or control to provide youth meaningful opportunities to take the reins.
Heather is sole author of a journal article on how adults change from facilitating youth participatory action research, first author on a paper exploring how youth are impacted by participating a mental health-oriented youth action board, and she is co-author on three other manuscripts under review related to the practice of youth voice work.
Heather has taught a class called “Community and Positive Youth Development” to Masters of Social Work students at the University of Denver. Heather has led a ten week digital storytelling workshop for low income youth of color.
Heather’s passion and commitment for youth engagement in tobacco control is rooted in her own participation as a teen in a youth movement in Colorado.