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Next Generation: Maisha Drayton, using community engagement to improve health outcomes

From fledgling biotech startups to massive hospital systems, the health-care industry is deeply woven into the community's economy. The industry employs tens of thousands of physicians, nonprofit workers, life-sciences entrepreneurs, health-insurance administrators and the like. Dozens, if not hundreds, of them are driving innovations in health care delivery. There are too many to list, but this group offers a diverse cross section of local emerging leaders. Here is one; click here to see the rest.


Maisha Drayton thinks all Americans, no matter where they are born or what color they are, have the right to reach their full potential.

She's doing her part as a Buffalo-based community engagement director for a New York City nonprofit, after working for a dozen years for Evergreen Health Services.

It's a path Drayton, 43, started on after taking a job with SUNY Buffalo State's health center because the campus TV station didn't have any openings.

Her work at the center – everything from prepping young women for their first gynecological exam to encouraging students to practice safe sex – intrigued her more than broadcast news.

At Evergreen, she managed community initiatives and trained employees. At Cicatelli Associates, she brings together organizations – Erie County Health Department, Buffalo Public Schools – to systemically tackle problems affecting vulnerable populations.

She helps young people bring STI testing into their neighborhood, for example, and wants to drill deeper into racism's effect on health outcomes.

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