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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.

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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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