Meet ASF’s New Program Manager, Cherry Davenport

By: Javacia Harris Bowser

Cherry Davenport, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship’s new program manager, brings a wealth of public health education and experience to the position. Before taking her role at ASF, she worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation as a project and program manager with the Response, Crisis and Preparedness Unit and Overdose Data to Action.

She’s also had serval roles at the Alabama Department of Public Health, including serving as the Director of Microplanning within the Immunization Division where she was responsible for ensuring COVID-19 vaccination allocation, distribution, waste management and reserve among healthcare providers.

When Cherry, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Troy University and a Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina, reflects on her experience in public health she shares that much of her work hasn’t felt like work.

“Public health aligns so intimately with my personal passions and interests,” she explains. “It makes work in public health seem more like an extension of my true self and less like work.”

Serving her community has always been a top priority. Through the years she’s volunteered with national organizations such as the Salvation Army and done serveral public service projects with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Cherry also does volunteer work with her church. 

For Cherry, the work she does in public health is personal – and not only because of her passion for volunteerism. 

“My family directs my involvement in public health,” she shares. “As an African American woman, many of my people struggle with poor health outcomes. In addition to the social determinants of health, African Americans’ race serves as an additional barrier to challenges experienced in the realm of health.”

Cherry believes that by doing work that will help her community she’s doing work that also will help everyone else. 

COVID-19 brought one of Cherry’s most challenging and yet most rewarding work experiences. 

“At the ADPH, I served as the Director of Microplanning where I was responsible for managing the logistics, distribution, and providing health care professionals with the COVID-19 vaccine,” she explains. “Being an essential worker during that time created a highly stressful work environment, however seeing the benefits of those receiving the vaccination was worth the angst.”

Later while working at the CDC Foundation, Cherry had to grapple with being a remote public health care professional. She quickly realized, however, that though her work environment had changed, people’s needs had not. 

“Through creativity within an ever-evolving overdose climate, I learned how to remain an effective public health advocate,” she says.

Cherry, second from left, began in May to take over the roles previously filled by David West and Keaton Johnson, also pictured above.

Cherry is bringing that same creativity to ASF. 

“One of my greatest joys of working with my multi-disciplinary employees with the CDC Foundation was gaining insight into how the many facets of public health converge for the greater good,” she says. “Using that experience, I plan on guiding this year’s cohort on bringing their projects to fruition.”

In fact, it was the opportunity to work with emerging public health professionals in various disciplines that drew Cherry to ASF. 

“As a mentor, I enjoy using my project management skills to support fellows as they navigate their projects’ dynamics,” she says. 

Cherry believes that the public health issues Alabama faces in some ways mirror issues of the country as a whole.

“Alabama statistics provide a small reflection of what we, as a nation, also contend with,” she says. “Healthcare access and quality, education access and quality, social and community context, economic stability, and neighborhood and built environment are the social determinants of health set forth as objectives to address and overcome.”

Progress can only be made with a concerted and unified effort on the national, state, and local levels, she says. 

This is why the Albert Schweitzer Fellows fill her with hope. 

“I know that efforts of public health must be multifaceted in order to be effective,” she says. “This year 2024-25 cohort members have chosen various project themes which all show great promise of impact.”