Kussy Mackenzie is an Evaluation Specialist at UC San Diego Center for Community Health. Kussy’s 15 years of administrative experience has been applied to international development in Liberia and various U.S. healthcare settings inclusive of hospital administration, healthcare education, and academia. Kussy leads evaluation for two Racial Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) projects funded by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Community Health (DCH). The projects aim to address cardiac disease disparities among Southeastern San Diego’s African American population and prevent disparities in childhood obesity among Hispanic /Latino communities within Western Chula Vista, California. Kussy manages the Harvest of the Month program under the School Wellness Team. She provides guidance and support for the farm to school initiative which brings California-grown produce into schools and integrates nutrition education into classroom curriculums for children in grades K-6. She also oversees the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement project which aims to equip school lunchrooms with behavioral economic evidence-based tools that improve child eating behaviors and thus improve the health of children.
Prior to working with the School Wellness Team and leading evaluation for REACH, she was a Research Data Coordinator at the Center for Community Health under the direction of Division Chief, Dr. Sheila Gahagan. Kussy administratively assisted with a longitudinal study aimed at understanding biological and psychosocial risks for obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic risks in a cohort of adolescents studied since birth. She contributed to manuscripts and was second author on a paper entitled “The Effect of Maternal Obesity on the Offspring”, published in the journal Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. While working with Dr. Gahagan, she also volunteered as a Research Assistant at the Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP), working with staff on researching point of care devices and country-led response to HIV/AIDS in foreign militaries.
Six months after graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Old Dominion University, she moved to Liberia in West Africa and worked in international development. As a member of the senior management team for ChildFund International, she secured continued funding for livelihood and education programs for refugee, ex-combatant, and vulnerable children through photo journalism and sharing case studies with donors. She also led an emergency response for ChildFund in 2009. At Population Services International (PSI-Liberia), a social marketing non-profit, she headed the graphics team and helped to launch an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign geared toward youth 12 – 17 years as well as a water sanitation initiative to prevent waterborne diseases in urban and semi-rural communities. Prior to joining UC San Diego, Kussy worked in various aspects of public health. She worked in event planning and fundraising for the American Heart Association and Scripps Health Foundation. Kussy previously owned and operated a home health agency and helped manage her family business, a home health and nursing assistant school. She is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh where she attained her Masters of Science in Global Health and Public Policy. Kussy was born in Liberia and raised in Minnesota. She is a mother of two rambunctious little boys and enjoys doing crafts, painting in watercolor, and spending time with her family in her free time.