RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
Discipline(s): Public Health, Nursing, Social Epidemiology
Area(s) of Expertise: Occupational Health, Work-Family Policies, Community Development, Community Intervention Research Methods, Vulnerable Workers
Dr. Cassandra Okechukwu is an Associate Professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she is Co-Director of the Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Educational Program in Cancer Prevention and Control and faculty mentor in the Maternal and Child Health/Children Youth and Families Training Program. She is Principal Investigator with the Harvard Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing and a faculty member of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.
Cassandra’s body of research identifies disconnects between the prevailing research discourse and actions needed to improve the health of workers, particularly those from disadvantaged, marginalized, or working class populations. Her research provides critical inputs to the design of worksite-based interventions and challenges researchers, policy makers, and program planners to view occupational health issues in more radically comprehensive ways. As an investigator in the Work, Family and Health Network, she helped design, implement, and evaluate a multi-prong program to improve work, family, and health outcomes for workers in the health care and information technology industries. Working alongside researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and in collaboration with industry partners and unions, she led the evaluation of a randomized controlled trial of a smoking cessation intervention for blue-collar workers.
Trademarks of Cassandra’s work include her pioneering, cross-disciplinary linkage of data sources and her innovative use of complex analytical strategies. For example, she created a unique dataset by linking in-house administrative records on employees, and clinical outcomes from patients with qualitative and quantitative data from surveys of employees. She has used mixed method analysis to highlight that supervisors of low-wage workers face unique challenges in addressing workers’ work-family needs, and that how supervisors and organizations respond to these needs impacts quality of care delivered by health care workers. Her groundbreaking findings have demonstrated how work and home environments interact to shape workers’ health, family welfare, and job performance.
Cassandra has received numerous accolades for her work, including Best Paper prizes from the VI International Conference on Work and Family and the American Public Health Association Aging and Public Health section. She was on the team that received the 2015 Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.