Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes

National Program Office

The Team

The Merck Foundation selected the University of Michigan’s Center for Managing Chronic Disease (CMCD), now under the leadership of Drs. Cathleen Connell and John Piette, to serve as the National Program Office (NPO) for the Alliance. Assisting Drs. Connell and Piette (Co-Directors of the NPO) are Ms. Julia Dodge, Deputy Director, and Dr. Belinda Nelson, Grantee Liaison. An Advisory Board of national experts in the area of diabetes and disparities was assembled to support and guide the work of the National Program Office and the grantee partners.

The Mission:

The NPO focuses on 3 broad areas for a five year period spanning 2009- 2013:

  • Provides leadership in building the Alliance as a national partnership. At the national level, the Alliance is collaborating with key organizations who share our interest in advancing needed policy and systems change to reduce disparities in diabetes. Collaborating organizations include: AADE, ADA, CDC Division of Diabetes Translation, HHS Office of Minority Health, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, the National Association of City and Community Health Officers, and SOPHE.
  • Serves as the hub for communications activities between the five grantee teams at both the national and local levels to promote collaboration, information exchange and dissemination of lessons learned and program outcomes.
  •  Provides ongoing support and technical assistance to the diabetes and health care disparities program efforts of the five grantee communities. Promote sustainability of the most promising efforts of the Alliance partners.

The Approach:

The NPO synthesizes the ways in which the Alliance contributes by:

  • Looking across sites to better understand and model how to implement evidence-based, multi-level interventions at the local level.
  • Identifying common features, themes, and lessons learned across diverse communities.
  • Sharing information and informing policy at multiple levels to account for the day-to-day realities of providing quality care to those most in need.
  • Supporting the external cross-site evaluation being conducted by RTI International (RTI).

Key Achievements (Current September 2013):

  • Public website for the Alliance ( and use of Social Media
  • National Advisory Board (NAB) comprised of six national experts in the area of diabetes and disparities
  • Partnerships with the leadership of national organizations sharing the Alliance goal of reducing disparities in diabetes through face-to-face meeting.
  • Invited National Summit convened in Washington, DC in March 2012. Policy Considerations Report arising from these discussions was published on the Alliance website ( in Fall 2012. 
  • Recent Publishing Activities: 
    • January 2013: Clark, NM.  “Connecting National Policy and Local Experience Essential to Reduce Disparities.” Op-Ed published in the Congressional Diabetes Caucus Quarterly Newsletter.
    • April 2013: Clark, NM. Data, Diabetes, and Disparities:  Two local programs leverage technology in innovative ways to reduce healthcare disparities. The Legislator (publication of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators)
    • August 2013: Feature story on the Alliance posted on the Merck home page at
    • August 2013: Modern Healthcare published a commentary by Dr. Noreen Clark
  • Health Promotion Practice Supplement issue on the Alliance – in development
  • Recent National Presentations:
    • March 2013: Endocrine Society Health Disparities Conference (Baltimore) – Dr. Clark invited presenter
    • May 2013: Institute for Healthcare Advancement 12th Annual Health Literacy Conference (Irvine, CA): Poster presentations by Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, and RTI International (external evaluator)
    • June 2013: American Diabetes Association 73rd  Scientific Session (Chicago): Poster presentations by Camden, Chicago, National Program Office and RTI International (external evaluator) 
  • Recent Webinar Presentations (available on the Alliance website at
    • March 2013: Bridging the Quality Gap in Diabetes Care and Outcomes: Local Solutions with National Implications; 
    • June 2013: ONC Beacon Community Diabetes Vision Call, featuring the work of the Chicago team;
    • June 2013: Community Health Workers and Reducing Disparities in Diabetes: Lessons Learned from the Front Lines of Care


For more information on the National Program Office, please contact National Program Office Deputy Director, Julia A. Dodge at