As part of my larger research agenda, I seek to explore historical and contemporary forms of public health activism in Black communities. I am particularly interested in examining the processes and mechanisms through which different groups from the African Diaspora mobilize resources to establish, maintain, reform and contest global, national and local health projects and health disparities. Over the years, my scholarship and activism has focused on issues related to HIV/AIDS.

The title of my dissertation is Saving Black Lives: Mobilizing Strategies in African American Communities to End the HIV/AIDS Epidemic.For this study, I employed a qualitative multiple case study analysis to examine the HIV/AIDS mobilization of African American churches and community-based organizations. I found that inequalities related to race, class, gender, sexuality and religious authority shape the public health goals and strategies of these organizations. Moreover, I examined how the leaders of these organizations actively work to navigate and alter the authority of public health and medicine.

While much of my work has focused on research, I also employed the knowledge I gained from my years of study to contribute to teaching, community, and policy engagement. This work has been recognized by my mentors both inside and outside academia. For example, in 2010 I was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award for my contribution to the development a course designed by Dr. Sangeetha Madhavan entitled HIV/AIDS in a Global Perspective. Additionally, based on my dissertation and work in HIV/AIDS policy, I received the 2014 George M. Phillips Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate Research in Public Interest. Finally, I am the recipient of the 2015 Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Dissertation Completion Award. 

Areas of Interest

  • Health Disparities and Equity
  • Religion
  • Intersectionality
  • Social Movements


  • MA
  • PhD
    2016, University of Maryland, College Park
Michelle Beadle Holder
mbholder [at]