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Monica Lindsey Ponder

Assistant Professor Health Communication & Culture

  • Communication Culture & Media Studies
  • School of Communications


Dr. Monica L. Ponder is an Assistant Professor of Health Communication & Culture in the Cathy Hughes School of Communication at Howard University.  Dr. Ponder’s research interests are focused on organization-level health and crisis communication practice. She is the co-lead of Project REFOCUS (Racial Ethnic Framing of Community-Informed and Unifying Surveillance), an initiative that addresses social stigma related to COVID19 and racism. Dr. Ponder is also the creator of The Henrietta Hypothesis, an interdisciplinary model for crisis communication. It is a 16-construct model aptly named "The Henrietta Hypothesis" in honor of Henrietta Lacks’ iconic healthcare case. This scholarship offers crisis communication recommendations for public health organizations seeking to understand, reach, and engage historically marginalized and underrepresented  groups during public health emergencies. As a scholar activist, Dr. Ponder has led many successful public health initiatives including advocating for the establishment of lactation rooms (pods) at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – the world’s busiest airport, as well as leading plans for lactation support services for the 2017 National Women’s March (Washington, DC). As a lifelong learner and practitioner, Dr. Ponder leverages, in her teaching, her 10+ year career in health communication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Ponder views the classroom as a safe space and hopes that, through this process, students become aware of their own power as scholar activists, empowered learners, and as emerging public health change-makers.Dr. Ponder holds BS and MS degrees in Chemistry from Clark Atlanta University, a MSPH in Epidemiology from Emory University and a PhD in Communication from Georgia State University.