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Dr. Patti O’Brien-Richardson is the acting CEO of the Rutgers Community Health Center, the only nurse-managed federally qualified health center in the state of New Jersey where she oversees the work of several clinical sites throughout the City of Newark.
Her career in health began in sub-Saharan Africa where she lived for over a decade managing inter-continental humanitarian mission projects for cities, communities, and villages from Zambia to Madagascar. Her research focuses on cultural hair practices and physical activity among urban African-American girls. Her afterschool program based on this research combines hair-health education, physical activity, and leadership skills and addresses hair as a social determinant of health among women and girls in urban communities.
Dr. Patti, as she is known in the health and education world, is the creator of several multicultural physical activity and obesity prevention interventions for women and girls of color at risk for obesity including Roots-n-Riddims, a Caribbean/African cardiovascular workout and Thick Girls Move, a body-positive walking campaign to encourage women of all shapes and sizes to enter the world of health through walking. She is also the founder of Move it Nation, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower youth to move their minds, bodies, and souls and the creator of Move it-n- Groove it”, a childhood obesity prevention fitness curriculum and video series that has been used in over twenty-five schools, serving over 1,000 children in New York City and Boston, MA. Move it Nation also supports an orphanage in South Africa for children affected by HIV/AIDS and provides support for South African youth to attend summer camp and university.
Dr. Patti also teaches a senior seminar course she helped develop entitled “Hair: Culture, Politics and Technology” at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and is the author of “Purge it with Patti” a clean eating recipe book designed to address co-morbidities of obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Her work has been quoted in Elle.com and she is a frequent speaker on the health of women and girls in the urban environment, health equity, and access to health care for urban, low-income communities. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Developmental Psychology, a Masters of Education in Adolescent Education and a Ph.D. in Urban Systems/Urban Health.