When it comes to building your team, think big. You need the right people, a strong shared vision, and a blend of perspectives that opens up new possibilities.

[Pictured from Left to Right]:
JEANNE-MARIE STACCIARINI, PhD, RN, Associate Professor and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, University of Florida, College of Nursing
ANTONIO J. TOVAR-AGUILAR, PhD, Anthropologist, Community Organizer, and Agroecology Coordinator, Farmworker Association of Florida
GÜLCAN ÖNEL, PhD, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Florida

Our teams thrive when each member has unique expertise, drive, and open-minded humility to listen and learn—and when the team designs their research project to inform policy and action at the local and national level to create change.

Creativity on IRL teams is fueled by diverse perspectives—rooted in personal experience and in health and non-health professions alike—helping each member see beyond their familiar discipline and daily work to find cross-cutting solutions.

Imagine what a pediatrician, a political scientist, and a housing advocate could learn from each other about the impacts of public housing on children’s health, and how to improve systems and outcomes.

Imagine what a psychologist, a geographer, and a neighborhood organizer could learn from each other about urban landscapes, people’s relationships with the outdoors, and how to create more equitable green spaces that sustain community health.

These are the kinds of unusual collaborations and insights we need to build a Culture of Health. Our teams tell us that these new connections spark fresh thinking and help them reach beyond standard approaches.

This video introduces a unique team—a health behavior researcher, a rehabilitation counseling researcher, and a case manager and nonprofit director—that is assessing best practices for and the health impact of affordable housing and community advocacy for people living with HIV.

Think creatively about the team you could build, with two researchers and one community partner.
Whose work could illuminate different questions, challenges, and opportunities to lead you in unique and valuable directions? Perhaps you and a long-time collaborator bring in a third team member who is new to you both. Or maybe this is your opportunity to create a completely new team.

Try these approaches:

  • Reach out to a researcher or community member whose work intrigues you and might connect with yours.
  • Explore collaboration with someone from a different background or discipline.
  • Post a thought-provoking question to your social network and see who weighs in with an intriguing response.
  • Brainstorm with colleagues, mentors, and friends from outside your organization or field. Pose the challenge you want to address and ask them who would provide an interesting, valuable, and unexpected perspective.


For inspiration from more of our current teams, please visit IRLEADERS.ORG

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