Cancer Health Disparities Initiative


In recent decades, treatments for cancer have improved and deaths due to cancer have decreased. But unfortunately, not all Americans benefit equally from these successes. Many groups in Wisconsin and nationwide – often defined by where they live, by their income, race, ethnicity, education or sexual orientation – experience a greater burden of cancer along the continuum from prevention to detection, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, to end-of life.

Mission & Goals


The Mission of the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) is to partner with communities,  UW and Carbone Cancer Center faculty to reduce inequities in cancer burden through research, outreach, education, and training.


The goals of CHDI are to:

  • Increase cancer health disparities-related research conducted by UW Faculty and UWCCC members
  • Implement community outreach, education, and program development and evaluation activities with underserved communities
  • Promote increased recruitment of underrepresented populations into UWCCC clinical care and research
  • Provide training and mentoring opportunities for UWCCC staff and trainees from underrepresented populations

What we do


Cancer, Clear & Simple (CC&S) are educational materials about cancer developed by CHDI. It includes a curriculum, Facilitator Guide and educational handouts around cancer basics, cancer prevention and self-care, and cancer screening and detection.

Image of two individuals speaking


CHDI focuses on formative research, community partnership development and guidance relating to cancer disparities, grant proposal development, research project coordination, data analysis and interpretation and the development of publications.


Emphasizes development and coordination of coalitions and advisory boards, design of education and facilitator training, development of educational and marketing materials based on health literacy and adaptation and dissemination of resources.

Future Directions

Moving forward, CHDI has particular interest in cancer screening navigation and informed decision-making research interventions, treatment and clinical research, Cancer Clear & Simple content expansion and further evaluation, and research on the relationship between social determinants and biomarkers in cancer disparities.

Faculty & Staff

Earlise Ward

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Cancer Health Disparities Initiative Program Leader


Dr. Ward leads and supports the CHDI team in community outreach and education. Additionally, she partners with UW Carbone leadership and members to support and increase health disparities cancer research.

Joshua Wright

Position title: Outreach Specialist


Joshua collaborates with community members and organizations to plan, facilitate, and execute outreach and education engagements. These efforts prioritize raising awareness about cancer and chronic disease prevention, and screening with underserved populations.

Lucretia Sullivan-Wade

Position title: Outreach Specialist Patient Navigator


Phone: 608-263-3118

Lucretia collaborates with staff at CRCO to increase under represented and ethic minorities (UREM) patients’ knowledge and participation in cancer clinical trials. Additionally, she partners with community members and organizations, including faith-based, to plan, facilitate, and execute outreach and education engagements among UREM.

Ashley Smith

Credentials: RN

Position title: Outreach Specialist


Ashley Smith, RN works as the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center’s Rural Outreach Specialist. She is on the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) team working on reducing barriers to rural cancer care. Through community education on cancer screening and prevention, the hope is to improve cancer screening and early detection rates in northern WI. Her current work is an initiative funded through the National Cancer Institute (NCI) called the “Screen to Save” project, which is focused on improving colorectal cancer rates in rural and underserved communities.