Our mission and history

Our mission is to eliminate health disparities through recruiting, training, and sustaining and supporting health professionals from diverse backgrounds, community engagement, and advocacy.

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The Health Education Center was established in 1996 as the Eastern Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC). The federal AHEC Program was established in 1973 as a way to encourage medical schools to increase the number of students and residents trained in rural communities. The Connecticut AHEC Program was established in 1995 by the Connecticut General Assembly and received initial federal funding in 1997. The program is based at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington and implemented by regional AHECs with offices in Waterbury, Hartford, Bridgeport, and Norwich.

Continuing to honor the history of AHEC, the Health Education Center has since expanded to lay out a bold new pathway forward that addresses the changing needs of the community.  This expansion builds upon the foundational vision of the organization to improve workforce development, with a commitment to keep racial equity and social justice at the center of the efforts.  HEC's programs and trainings provide health education to community members, healthcare focused career-building opportunities, and training to health professionals and health professions students on the health disparities affecting Eastern CT to ensure more equitable care for the community. 

HEC envisions a Connecticut where:

  • All residents have the opportunity to thrive
  • Pathways are open to all who seek to pursue a career in health care
  • The health care system and its workforce represent and reflect the people they serve
  • Communities are healthy, inclusive, supportive, engaged, and connected
  • Health care services are available and accessible for all who need them when they are needed
  • All residents, particularly children, are valued and supported in envisioning their future.


We'd had over 1,670+ program participants since 2019:

Community Members

Our leadership team

Alyssa McClain
Alyssa McClainPresident of the Health Education Center
Leyanna Minnis
Leyanna MinnisProgram and Data Coordinator
Cynthia Jean-Mary
Cynthia Jean-MaryDirector of Training and Workforce Development
Amina Otajagic
Amina OtajagicProgram Manager
Natalie Crino
Natalie CrinoArea Health Education Center (AHEC) Director

Meet Our Board of Directors

Stephen Smith, MD, MPH
Board Chairman
Physician, Community Health Center, Inc.
Professor Emeritus of Family Medicine,
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Laurie Herring
Board Vice-Chairwoman
Chief Operations and Quality Officer
The Arc Eastern Connecticut

Stephanye Clarke
Board Secretary
Program Officer
Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut

Terrence Hickey
Board Treasure
Chief Financial Officer
The Arc Eastern Connecticut

Glorimar Anderson, LCSW
Behavioral Health Clinician
Community Health Center, Inc.

Setu Vora, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Joseph Zuzel
Manager Community Health for
Eastern Region of Hartford Healthcare

Debbie Phillips
Community Activist and Volunteer

William Cheng
Real Estate Broker
Brokerage by EXP Realty


University of Connecticut
American Public Health Association
The Arc of Eastern Connecticut
Capital Community College
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Chelsea Groton Bank
Connecticut Association of Community Action
Connecticut Public Health Association
Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut
Community Health Center, Inc.
Community Health Network of Connecticut
Covenant Soup Kitchen
Department of Public Health
Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board
Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut
Gateway Community College
Generations Family Health Center
Hartford HealthCare
Health Equity Solutions
Health Improvement Collaborative
Health Resources and Service Administration

Ledge Light Health District
Madonna Place
Primary Prevention Project
National AHEC Organization
New London Homeless Hospitality Center
Nonprofit Alliance of Northeast CT
Northeast CT Chamber of Commerce
CT Office of Health Strategy
Office of Minority Health
The Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation
Perceptions Program, Inc.
Perceptions Program, Inc.
Covenant Soup Kitchen
Society of Public Health Education
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Connecticut Association of Community Action
Three Rivers Community College
Uncas Health District
Generations Family Health Center


Hundreds of students are loving our programs & trust HEC.


Connecting students to health education careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health.

55 Main Street, Ste 270

Norwich, CT 06360
P: (860) 465-8281
F: (860) 760-6230

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