Montagnard Health Disparities Research Network (2012 – Dec 2018)

previously under UNCG Center for New North Carolinians

Montagnard / Southeast Asian Community Disparities Research Network (2019)

under the Montagnard Dega Association

Montagnard / Asian Community Disparities Research Network (2021)


In 2011, community advocate Andrew Young organized a meeting of hitherto unrecognized medical doctors from the Montagnard community and counterparts from the regional hospital system. In 2012, this led to the creation of the Montagnard Health Disparities Research Network (MHDRN) by Prof. Sharon Morrison, later joined by Prof. Sudha Shreeniwas. From 2012 to 2018, MHDRN was the vehicle through which academic-based service learning (SL), community engaged scholarship (CES), and community based participatory research (CBPR) were conducted, pushing resources that allowed training for youth, mothers, grandmothers and health professionals. MHDRN allowed us to organize interdisciplinary expertise of colleagues and students at area colleges and universities, provide outsiders with cultural competency training to participate in ongoing projects, and meet with community to identify issues. Fair, socially just relationships become the natural bridge we could together cross to begin the investigation of long-standing community concerns.

In 2019, we renamed our network the Montagnard / Southeast Asian Community Disparities Research Network and moved to MDA under the direct guidance of its Community Advisory Council, making ourselves truly centered in the community. By adopting the High Impact Practices of service learning, community-engaged research, learning communities and diversity/global learning, with the community we demonstrated the practice of social justice, anti-racism, cultural competency and reflection and the essential role institutions of higher education can play to empower marginalized communities.


  • Network representation at prestigious venues.

  • Built momentum in community and attracted scholarly and service learning interest from academia and administrative buy-in.

  • Created an integrated model of service learning (SL), community engaged scholarship (CES), community-based participatory research (CBPR)

  • Grant, School of Health and Human Sciences, UNCG (2019)

  • Increased awareness of community issues through network recognition.





  • Morrison, S., Young, A., Dharod, J., Xin, H., Nsonwu, M., Sills, S., Bailey, R. (Apr 2012). Empowering Underserved Communities. University of North Carolina Greensboro, NC

  • Morrison, S., Dharod, J., Sills, S., Nsonwu, M., Young, A., Xin, H. (Oct 2012). The Montagnard Health Disparities Network: Workable Solutions for Community Empowerment. National Refugee and Immigrant Conference, Chicago, IL

  • Morrison, M., Nsonwu, M., Young, A. (Aug 2015). Montagnard Health Disparities Research Network: Health Gaps and Strategies for Empowerment. Gillings School for Global Health, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC