Community Engagement Program

The Department of Family Medicine Community Engagement program is going through restructuring. So stay tuned for updates! In the meantime, use the buttons below to: check out our Community Presentations page for a list of upcoming and past monthly presentations and recordings; visit our DFM in the Community organized volunteering and support activities page; or look through our Community Resources page featuring links from our local partners. 


It's not enough to just exist in a community. We at the Department of Family Medicine continuously work to become contributing members of our CU Anschutz Medical Campus home and the communities that surround our home base.

Our faculty, staff, residents and students serve the people of Denver, Aurora, and surrounding suburbs in our clinics and hospitals. We also call these diverse and vibrant communities home. ​

We strive to provide an inclusive environment for all, especially those who come from communities traditionally underrepresented in medicine with regard to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, and ability. We are committed to attracting and training individuals whose varied backgrounds empower them to provide more equitable health care for their patients and communities.

Being a part of, engaging with, and caring for our community is part of our core values. We hope you’ll join us in living up to our mission to heal, teach, discover, and connect. Together.

Heather Bleacher

Heather Bleacher, MD, MPH

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Dr. Bleacher is core faculty at the University of Colorado Family Medicine Residency, and practices family medicine in inpatient and outpatient settings. Through caring for people from many different backgrounds, Heather has witnessed the way they have been harmed or helped through the policies, practices, culture and beliefs that mold their environment. As a result, her career has been focused on shaping new physicians and clinical settings into agents of equity. Since 2012 she has co-directed the residency’s community health curriculum which focuses on population health, advocacy, and community engagement. She has led initiatives at her practice to address health inequities by attending to patients’ social barriers to health. In her role as Director of Health Equity for Clinical Affairs, Heather is working to develop tools, resources, practices and policies to help medical clinics incorporate the pursuit of health equity and the elimination of systemic oppression into their vision and day-to-day operations.


Sheryl Harrington

Sheryl Harrington

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Sheryl is the Community Program Manager working with the department develop the new Community Engagement Program (CEP) long term goals and Strategic Plan. She develops relationships with community organizations in Denver, Aurora and across Colorado to share information, amplify messaging and promote health related resources. Since 2022, Sheryl has organized the DFM Community Engagement Program Monthly Meetings (DFM-CEP-MM) where community organizations, DFM and other community-focused campus entities gather to learn about each other and make connections. Additionally, Sheryl supports community engaged activities such as patient listening sessions and clinic education such as Data Walks where clinics learn about the health demographics of the communities surrounding their clinics. Sheryl was the Program Manager for the Community-Campus Partnership on Anschutz Medical Campus from 2014-2020 supporting the Learning Local, Hire Local, and Buy Local initiatives along with the transformative work of the Resident Leadership Council (RLC). She continues to collaborate and support RLC’s work. Sheryl is a native Bostonian with a background working in: mental health treatment programs, United States Peace Corps, fundraising/advancement, volunteer organizing, community education programming, and program management. 
Vanessa Owen

Vanessa Owen, MA

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Vanessa Owen has been a Senior Research Services Professional at the University of Colorado, Department of Family Medicine since 2020. Before working with the DFM at CU, Vanessa worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado in public health and spiritual care for 14 years. At Children’s, Vanessa worked extensively on issues around crisis, trauma, loss, resiliency, ethics, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Vanessa feels deeply committed to addressing the ways in which systems impact people. In her work with the DEIA team at University, as well as in her work with the School of Medicine’s residency population health, advocacy, and community engagement curriculum, she has come to believe strongly in the importance of changing policies, improving work cultures, and transforming the harmful beliefs that people espouse, in order to reduce harm being inflicted on BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities. Currently, Vanessa also works with the Integrated Behavioral Health Plus evaluation team and is passionate about addressing the mental health crisis that is occurring in the United States by helping to integrate behavioral health care services into primary care practices. 


Sheryl Harrington
Program Manager - Community

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