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Senior Advisor of Health Literacy and Communication

Sam Pettyjohn


Sam Pettyjohn

As a Senior Advisor of Health Literacy and Communication, Sam provides support for HLM’s health literacy, science, and research programming, and health content development. He brings years of health communication, community-driven science, and public health experience and expertise to the HLM team.

Sam began his public health career at HLM 15 years ago as a Health Literacy Associate after completing his Master’s in Public Health at Saint Louis University. After 5 years at the organization, he relocated to Northeast Tennessee to support his partner in her academic career and start a family. In 2024, Sam returned to HLM to serve as a Senior Advisor of Health Literacy and Communication. He brings to the HLM team his years of health communication experience, and his expertise in public health theory and practice, and evidence-based methodologies for community-driven science.

During his hiatus from HLM, Sam continued to pursue his interests in health literacy as a research coordinator at East Tennessee State University, translating research studies into public-facing briefs, press releases, and digital content. As a doctoral student, he studied community health and the interplay of infectious disease and substance use disorders. He became an outspoken advocate and community-based researcher working with people who are unhomed, people who inject drugs, and people in the LGBTQIA+ community.

After receiving his Doctor or Public Health (DrPH) from East Tennessee State University, Sam worked at the Center for Rural Health Research focusing on infectious disease and substance use disorders. He has led mixed-method projects at the local, regional, and national levels studying rural community responses to COVID-19, and studying the impact of Narcan and access to syringe services programs in response to the influx of Fentanyl into Appalachia.

Sam is a firm believer in empowerment, equity, and community-driven research in populations facing stigma, discrimination, and poor health outcomes. He is passionate about giving them a voice through research.

In addition to his work here at HLM, Sam sits on several boards focused on child advocacy and early childhood interventions. He also continues to teach
public health and medical students at East Tennessee State University.

Meet our team

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