Denese M. Neu

In Funded Scholars
Denese M. Neu
Denese M. Neu

Denese M.



Consultant, Researcher, Author 
HHS Planning & Consulting, Inc. 

Professional Bio

Denese M. Neu founded and operates HHS Planning & Consulting. While pursuing her degrees, she worked in the health and human services industry. She resigned from a C level executive position with an international dialysis provider to complete her dissertation. That research examined the challenges of dialysis access for New Orleans” low-income, minority patients.
Her experience as a social worker and administrator working with a variety of government programs and vulnerable populations helped her recognize many gaps between urban policy and service-delivery design. This fueled her desire to start a business to bring interdisciplinary expertise to urban planning, public policy and health care initiatives.
Her clientele range from grassroots community-based organizations to the federal government. In recent years, her work has focused on the heritage and human needs components for successful and sustainable community development efforts.

Based in Chicago, she remains active with the recovery of New Orleans, which is the city she considers home. She is a graduate of the University of New Orleans and serves on the alumni board of directors.

Project Description

The project probed the question: Has the community development industry failed to fully invest in distressed areas and disadvantaged populations by disregarding the mental health needs from their community-building mission because policy and program barriers exist?
The project examined community development policy and strategies for mental health intervention among disadvantaged populations. The white paper presented summative findings and recommendations and a list of additional research questions for the RWJF”s vulnerable populations team. Using qualitative methods, the project: 1) conducted policy analysis to identify barriers to holistic community development; 2) reviewed the national community development training programs to determine if/how they address psychological health impediments to successful homeownership and community building; 3) reviewed community development corporation data to identify trends among those that have incorporated traditional/non-traditional mental health services; and 4) examined and evaluated how selected programs address or avoid these issues at the local level.

My New Connections Experience

As a consultant, I saw empirical evidence of the disconnection between research and implementation throughout my work. I learned about New Connections early on, and applied for the first round of funding. My hope was to collect real-time evidence of how health-care disparities issues were being addressed by the New Orleans post-disaster planning process. Although I was unfunded in that round, I was invited to attend the first symposium. The value of being in a room of emerging scholars doing interesting, interdisciplinary work kept me applying for the clinics. I reapplied in round three because it gave me an opportunity to probe mental health issues that were not being recognized by the community development industry.

The New Connections program supported me in collecting evidence, but it has also helped keep me motivated to continue working with and for vulnerable populations. Additionally, being affiliated with this network of scholars has helped me more fully develop my ideas outside the academic world. Lastly, being a part of this program has provided me with a greater level of professional confidence for communicating my ideas and delivering material in the field.

Research Interests

Social Planning and Infrastructure; Social Policy; Population Issues; Place-Based Culture; Vulnerable Populations; Public-Private Partnerships; Community-Based Programs; Health Impact Assessment; Community Needs Assessment; Disaster Recovery; Location Analysis; Geo-Linked Public Policy; Accessibility; Nonprofit Efficacy; Innovative Programs Serving Population Needs; Service Delivery Design.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Mid-Career Consultant
  • Award Year: 2008
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Vulnerable Populations
  • Project Name: Examining how Community Development Organizations Incorporate Mental Health Programming for Improved Target Population Outcomes. 

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