Chelsea Wesner, MPH, MSW, (she/her) is a Research Instructor in the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health (CAIANH) and DrPH student in the Department of Community & Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health. She has worked with Indigenous communities for nearly 15 years across public health practice and research leading and supporting projects related to diabetes prevention, food sovereignty, opioid overdose prevention, and maternal and child health. Prior to coming to the Colorado School of Public Health, she worked as a program planner at the University of Oklahoma's American Indian Institute, public health faculty at the University of South Dakota, and on assignment with the CDC’s Tribal, Regional, and Territorial Support Team in the Division of Diabetes Translation. Her current research interests include understanding and measuring early relational health and family economic well-being within Indigenous communities and families with young children. Chelsea is originally from Oklahoma and a member of the Choctaw Nation. She is most proud of being a mother to Lily and Isla.
Areas of Expertise
- Early relational health
- Family economic well-being
- Indigenous public health
- Behavioral health
- Food sovereignty and traditional foodways
Education, Licensure & Certifications
- Public Health Training Certificate in American Indian Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2020
- MPH, Health Promotion Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 2010
- MSW, Administrative and Community Practice, University of Oklahoma, 2010
- BA, Sociology and American Indian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006
- Native Research Ambassadors Program, Center for American Indian Community Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, 2019
- Early Career Teaching Excellence Award, University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences, 2019
- CBHS 6648 Ethical Considerations in American Indian and Alaska Native Health
- Administration for Children & Families, Tribal Early Childhood Research Center. September 2020 - August 2025. Role: Supporting, Research Instructor.
- CDC, Intergovernmental Personnel Agreement: Native Diabetes Wellness Program, Division of Diabetes Translation. 2013-2021. Role: PI.
- CDC, Overdose Data to Action (OD2A), South Dakota Department of Health. September 2019-August 2022. Role: PI, Statewide Evaluation.
- CDC, Emergency Response: Public Health Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement, South Dakota Department of Health. 2018-2019. Role: PI, Statewide Vulnerability Assessment.
- CDC, Prescription Drug Overdose: Data-Driven Prevention Initiative Cooperative Agreement, South Dakota Department of Health. 2017-2019. Role: PI, Statewide Evaluation.
Publications and Presentations
- Berg-Poppe, P., Anis, M., Cerny, S., Merrigan, M., LaPlante, K. & Wesner, C. (2021). Changes in knowledge, beliefs, self-efficacy, and affective commitment to change following trauma- informed care education for pediatric service providers. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.
- Danzi, B., Strobel, S., Puumala, S. Kenyon, D., Curry O’Connell, M., & Wesner, C. (2021). COVID-19 stressors, concerns, and mental health of adults and youth during the early phase of the pandemic in South Dakota. Journal of Rural Mental Health.
- Boland, S., Ivanich, J., Wesner, C., Tuitt, N., Zacher, T., Asdigian, N., & Whitesell, N. (2021). Crisis-Resilient and Anti-Racist Approaches to Community Based Participatory Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond. Health Education and Behavior, 10901981211054791.
- Boland, S., Homdayjanakul, K., Reed, R., Wesner, C., Basha, E., Kaufman, C., Jackson, L., & James, K. (2021). Addressing the cycle of inaction: A DrPH student perspective on the decolonization of public health. Harvard Public Health Review, 35.
- Wesner, C. A., Zhang, W., Melstad, S., Ruen, E., Deffenbaugh, C., Gu, W., & Clayton, J. L. (2020). Assessing County-Level Vulnerability for Opioid Overdose and Rapid Spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Infection in South Dakota. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 222(Supplement_5), S312-S321.
- Wesner, C. & Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Part V—Traditional Foods in Native America: A Compendium of Stories from the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities. Atlanta, GA: Native Diabetes Wellness Program, CDC.