Cheryl Kelly

Cheryl Kelly Buening, PhD, MPH, MA

Cheryl Kelly Buening, PhD, MPH, MA, is a new Evaluation Investigator at the IHR. She has extensive experience in program and policy evaluation, as well as evaluating the relationship of the built environment and related policies with healthy behaviors, including access to grocery stores, sidewalks, parks, and safe neighborhoods. Dr. Kelly shares her time between the IHR and KP Colorado’s Community Benefit department, evaluating portfolio initiatives to improve health at worksites, schools, and other healthcare institutions and non-profit organizations. Dr. Kelly’s passion for this work contributes to closing the gap between research and practice in public health.

Evaluation of The Colorado Health Foundation’s Healthy Places Initiative.
The purpose of this project is to evaluate the Colorado Health Foundation’s Healthy Places: Designing an Active Colorado, a five-year, $4.5 million initiative to inspire and support the development of healthy communities. The evaluation is expected to assess the extent to which three different communities were successful in implementing strategies to increase physical activity, and the extent to which the changes resulted in increased physical activity.

Evaluation of Kaiser Permanente’s Thriving Schools Colorado Initiative.
The purpose of this project is to conduct a multi-site initiative level evaluation of 21 school districts funding to increase opportunities for students and staff to be physically active before, during and after the school day. The long-term goal of this initiative is to improve physical, social and emotional health of staff and students and improve academic performance of students. The evaluation team is using various methods to document change in physical activity as well as the built environment and related policies.

Evaluation of Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA)
Dr. Kelly currently provides evaluation direction and support for Kaiser Permanente of Colorado’s Community Benefit department (CB). CB’s program and grant making strategies focus on public health interventions to increase healthy eating and active living (HEAL) and improve access to health care for low-income populations. The CB access to care strategy includes a primary focus on the health care safety net, which is defined as Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Community-Funded Safety Net clinic (CFSN), Rural Health Centers (RHC), Medical Residency Clinics, and Public Hospitals. CB has provided program interventions, grant funding, technical assistance, knowledge sharing through continuing medical education trainings and more to the health care safety net for greater than ten years. The support provided to the safety net is focused on disease prevention and management through quality improvement, clinic to community integration, knowledge dissemination and capacity building.

Additionally, the CB healthy environments strategy includes HEAL initiatives, hunger screening, weight management programs, active transportation and spreading best practices for community based organizations, municipalities and other institutions to improve population level health. CB has provided significant financial support to LiveWell Colorado and other place-based HEAL initiatives since 2006.


Kelly, C., Lian, M., Struthers, J., Kammrath, A. Walking to Work: The roles of Neighborhood Walkability and Socioeconomic Deprivation. In Press (2015), Journal of Physical Activity & Health (CDC special issue on Call to Walking). PMID: 24368284

Kelly, C., Wilson, J., Schootman, M., Clennin, M., Baker, E.A., Miller, D.K. The Built Environment Predicts Observed Physical Activity, Frontiers in Public Health: Public Health Education and Promotion, 2014; 2(52), p. 1-9. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00052. PMID: 24904916 

Kelly, C., LaRose, J., Scharff, D. A Method for Building Evaluation Competency Among Community-based Organizations. Health Promotion Practice, 2014, 15(3), 431-437. doi:10.1177/1524839913496427. (2015 Sarah Mazelis Paper of the Year)

Kelly, C., Scharff, D., LaRose, J., Lobb Dougherty, N., Stringer Hessel, A., Brownson, R. A Tool for Rating Best Practices in Chronic Disease Prevention and Public Health. Preventing Chronic Disease, 2013; 10. doi: 10.5888/pcd10.130173.

Kelly, C., Wilson, J., Baker, E., Miller, D., Schootman, M. Using Google Street View to Audit the Built Environment: Inter-rater Reliability Results. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2013, 45 (S1), S108-S112. PMID: 23054943

Brennan, L., Brownson, R.,Kelly, C., Ivey, M., Leviton, L. Concept mapping: Priority community strategies to create changes to support active living. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2012, 43 (5s4), S337-350. PMID: 23079266

Reis, R., Kelly, C., Parra, D., Barros, M., Gomes, G., Malta, D., Schmid, T., Brownson, R. Developing a research agenda for promoting physical activity in Brazil through environmental and policy change. Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública/Pan American Journal of Public Health, 2012, 32(2), 93-100. PMID: 23099869

Wilson, J., Kelly, C., Schootman, M., Baker, E., Banerjee, A., Clennin, M., Miller, D. Assessing the Built Environment Using Omnidirectional Imagery. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2012, 42, 193-199. PMID: 22261217

Hoehner, C., Rios, J., Garmendia, C., Baldwin, S., Kelly, C., Knights, D., Lesorogol, C., McClendon, G., Tranel, M. Page Avenue Health Impact Assessment: Building on Diverse Partnerships and Evidence to Promote a Healthy Community. Health & Place, 2012, 18, 85-95. PMID: 22243910

Wilson, J., Kelly, C. Measuring the Quality of Urban Green Space Using Google Earth: A Commentary (invited). American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2011, 40, 276-277.

Baker, E., Schootman, M., Kelly, C., E. Barnidge. Do recreational resources contribute to physical activity? Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2008, 5, 252 – 261. PMID: 18382034

Brownson, R., Kelly, C., Eyler, A., Carnoske, C., Grost, L., Handy, S., Maddock, J., Pluto, D., Ritacco, B., Sallis, J., Schmid, T. Environmental and Policy Approaches for Promoting Physical Activity in the United States: A Research Agenda. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2008, 5, 488 - 503 PMID: 18648115

Kelly, C., Baker, E., Brownson, R., Schootman, M. Translating research into practice: Using concept mapping to determine locally-relevant intervention strategies to increase physical activity. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2007, 30, 282-293. PMID: 17689333

Kelly, C., Schootman, M., Baker, E. Barnidge, Lemes, A. The association of sidewalk walkability and physical disorder with area-level race and poverty. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2007, 61, 978-983. PMID: 17933956

Baker, E., Schootman, M., Barnidge, E., Kelly, C. Access to foods that enable individuals to adhere to dietary guidelines: the role of race and poverty. Preventing Chronic Disease, 2006, 3(3), 1-11. PMID: 16776877

Kelly, C., Hoehner, C., Baker, E., Brennan-Ramirez, L., Brownson, R. Promoting physical activity in communities: Approaches for successful evaluation of programs and policies. Evaluation and Program Planning, 2006, 29, 280-292.

Baker, E., Kelly, C., Barnidge, E., Strayhorn, J., Schootman, M., Struthers, J., Griffith, D. The Garden of Eden: Acknowledging the impact of race and class in our efforts to decrease rates of obesity. American Journal of Public Health, 2006, 96, 1170-1174. PMID: 16735631

Oswald, D., Clark, E., Kelly, C. Friendship maintenance: An analysis of individual and dyad behaviors. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2004, 23(3), 413-441.

Kelly, C., Baker, E., Williams, D., Nanney, MS., Haire-Joshu, D, Does organizational capacity have an impact on the delivery and outcomes of health education programs? Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 2004, 10(2), 164-170. PMID: 14967984