Birmingham, Ala. — With deep sorrow, we announce the passing of GASP Board Director Dr. Shauntice Allen, a beloved member of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) community and a prominent advocate for community service. Dr. Allen, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences in the UAB School of Public Health, passed away on Saturday September 2, 2023, surrounded by family and loved ones.
Dr. Allen’s commitment to community service was deeply rooted in her childhood experiences, where she witnessed the act of giving back to her own family. Her grandmother’s generosity and kindness left an indelible mark on her, inspiring her to dedicate her life to serving others.
Dr. Allen collaborated with staff members on multiple publications and projects such as The Intersectionality of Environmental Justice and Women of Color as well as The Search for Environmental Justice: The Story of North Birmingham.
Current GASP Board President, Richard Rice remarked on her work, “Her legacy is a beacon of inspiration, a testament to her strategic brilliance, boundless courage, and selflessness. As we gather to remember her, let us cherish the countless memories that paint a vivid picture of her remarkable life: Dr. Allen’s meticulous record-keeping during Board meetings, ensured transparency and accountability. Her unwavering commitment when she stepped into the role of Board President, guided us with grace and determination. She led our hiring committee with a keen eye for talent and a passion for diversity. She spent countless hours in meetings with staff, offering solace, and fostering understanding whenever it was sought. Her relentless dedication often pushed her to the point of exhaustion, a testament to her unwavering spirit. Her impactful publications, notably “The Search for Environmental Justice: The Story of North Birmingham” and many others, which not only showcased her academic brilliance but also shone a light on the struggles of marginalized communities.”
Dr. Allen is remembered fondly by her colleagues at GASP. Gabrielle Gordan, GASP Board Secretary said of Dr. Allen, “. Not only did she inspire and help implement so many things to change the Birmingham community, coming from a student who joined GASP with small business alliances, she was known not just to the public health community but to all communities, especially science communities. Dr. Allen never made anyone feel intimidated. She was very open. You could talk to her about anything. She has helped so many people around the entire state. She has created such a wonderful legacy.”
“She never missed a beat! She always showed up on time, with a smile on her face and ready to work,” said Charline Whyte, GASP Board Director.
Nelson Brooke, GASP Board Vice-President, said of Dr. Allen, “I love that Shauntice always kept it real and made it clear where she stood on things. Working with her on the GASP board and in her environmental justice class at UAB as Riverkeeper was a pleasure. Sending love & freedom to my strong advocate friend on her journey!”
“She always stepped up to kind of take a leadership role, not in a way to say, ‘Hey, look at me, I’m carrying this organization.’ She was just somebody who filled in where the need was. And you could tell she really loved to do the work she was doing,” said Richard Rice. “She was always going to pursue excellence in a courageous type of way.”
Rice continued, “One of the most poignant memories I have of Dr. Allen truly exemplifies her selflessness. Recently, my family and I have been working tirelessly to identify the cause of our father’s significant health changes and issues. I was compelled to take a leave from my responsibilities at GASP during a critical transition period due to an extended hospital stay. When I reached out to Dr. Allen, asking her to fill in for me and provide referrals for a hematologist and oncologist, she immediately jumped into action. She not only shared names of specialists but also guided me through the intricate healthcare system. Throughout this time, she never once hinted at her own struggles. Instead, she prioritized my needs over her own, stepping in to cover my GASP responsibilities as well. I had no idea that within a mere two weeks, she would no longer be with us. Dr. Allen embodied unwavering strength and selflessness as an advocate for others. Thanks to her dedication, my father is now on the right path toward diagnosis and an effective treatment plan. I am profoundly grateful for Dr. Allen and the indelible impact she has made. Her spirit and legacy will continue to inspire me in all that I do moving forward.”
Haley Colson Lewis, previous GASP Staff Attorney said of Dr. Allen, “Once Shauntice joined GASP’s board, we got to work on several projects together. She was not only brilliant but showed up for the communities in which we worked and showed up for me as a staff member and friend countless times. Shauntice was integrity and goodness personified, and I never took lightly that she respected me. Not only was she strategic, steadfast, and committed to justice, but she also showed up for the people who needed her consistently, authentically, and with all of herself. I am not exaggerating to say our world is less bright without her light; I know mine certainly is. I will carry her with me forever by continuing to fight for the things she cared for deeply.”
Dr. Allen was also known for her renowned work as a UAB Professor and for her professional and personal dedication to community service. She was awarded the prestigious 2020 Odessa Woolfolk Community Service Award for her outstanding contributions to the Birmingham community. This award honors faculty members who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to education, economic development, healthcare, the arts, social services, human rights, and urban and public affairs within the community.
One of Dr. Allen’s significant achievements was the creation of the Community Health Innovation Awards (CHIA) in 2012. These awards provided vital grant funds to organizations in the greater Birmingham area, supporting innovative approaches to local health issues. Over the years, CHIA grants have resulted in over $450,000 being awarded to community organizations, leveraging more than $5 million in additional funding for local projects.
Dr. Allen also played a pivotal role in establishing the CCTS Community Engagement Institute (CEI), an annual symposium focused on health equity and social justice. This platform brought together diverse community leaders, volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and researchers to foster collaboration and drive positive change in Birmingham’s urban communities.
Through her work, Dr. Allen expanded the definition of community service, emphasizing the importance of creating processes, programming, and spaces for individuals to connect and share visions. She believed in empowering people to harness their power and make a lasting impact in their communities. Dr. Shauntice Allen’s legacy will endure through the countless lives she touched, the organizations she supported, and the communities she transformed. Her dedication to community service inspires us all, reminding us of the profound impact one person can have in making the world a better place.She will be dearly missed, and our thoughts and condolences are with her family, friends, colleagues, and all those whose lives she enriched throughout her life and her selfless service.
GASP is a nonprofit organization that aims to advance healthy air and environmental justice in the Greater Birmingham area through education, advocacy, and collaboration. We strive to reduce exposure to air pollution, educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality, and encourage community leaders to serve as role models by advocating for clean air and clean energy. gaspgroup.org