12: Training Health Equity Leaders

Dr. Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD, ASTHO President and Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses responding to public concerns about COVID-19 vaccines; Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at...

Dr. Nirav D. Shah, MD, JD, ASTHO President and Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, discusses responding to public concerns about COVID-19 vaccines; Daniel E. Dawes, Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, encourages public health leaders from under-represented communities to sign up for a new ASTHO/Satcher leadership program; and Tequam Tiruneh, an ASTHO senior analyst of Clinical to Community Connections, talks about efforts on behalf of those living with HIV.

Document: COVID-19 Vaccine Comparison

Webpage: Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health

Daniel E. Dawes named director of Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Blog article: Ending the HIV epidemic: 40 years of progress

ASTHO logo




This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, August 25th, 2021. I'm Robert Johnson.

Here's today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.


As we learn more about organizations considering vaccine mandates, we're thinking about people who've yet to get a COVID-19 shot. Some have questions; others are deciding against a vaccine based on bad information.

Dr. Nirav Shah is ASTHO's president and director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


I think if we talk about the why people believe the things they do, there, I think, we might be able to convince a few folks to get on board.

A lot of these concerns, this outright opposition to vaccines, is driven by things like fear: fear that the vaccines were raced; that they are being driven by corporate interests, not public health.

If you get to those whys, then it's a lot easier to have a conversation about what's going on rather than doing a point-by-point refutation of what the footnotes said, and that sort of thing.


Dr. Shah talks about the problem of vaccine misinformation in a new episode of the Public Health Review podcast, available now. Listen on your favorite podcast app or visit ASTHO's website.

Also, don't forget to check out the ASTHO Vaccine Comparison. It's been updated with the latest information about all available COVID-19 vaccines. A link to the comparison webpage is in the show notes.


A new public health leadership training program for those who self-identify from an underrepresented group is looking for candidates. The deadline to register for the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health program is September 7th.

Daniel Dawes leads the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. His team joined with ASTHO to create the curriculum. He talks about it in today's morning conversation.

Talking about the DELPH program—taking applicants right now—why is it important to have a program like this?


We joined forces with ASTHO to create the Diverse Executives Leading in Public Health program—DELPH—and it's really developed to uplift professionals who are members of underrepresented groups in public health leadership—such as, of course, people of color, women, people with disabilities, and gender and sexual minorities or LGBTQ+ individuals. And, ultimately, we aim to provide these public health leaders with the tools and resources that they need to help make an impact for every community that they represent and serve so that we can finally realize in this country a healthier, equitable, and more inclusive society.


How do you think this leadership training experience will benefit those who sign up for it?


We wanted to create an experience—a leadership experience—that was going to add value to these existing leaders' lives, right? Make them more effective leaders, more equity-focused leaders.

And so, while participants will be studying the political determinants of health and the drivers of health inequities, what they'll also be provided is a unique mentoring and training platform that will equip them with the foundational skills—the tools and the knowledge that they have not had yet—to address pressing issues that are impacting their communities, health, and wellbeing. And we hope, essentially, to be this guiding light in their continued growth over the years as they develop to become more effective leaders.


We hope someone listening right now is interested.

But, if they're still not sure, what's the best argument you can make at this very moment for them to get online and sign up?


Why is it that, in this country, we continue to see life expectancies is declining for these groups? We continue to see premature deaths and poor health outcomes across the board, not only with physical health conditions, but mental health conditions? And what is really driving these inequities that we've not been able to tackle as effectively as we'd like to?

For those who really are tired of the status quo, for those who really want to effect actionable solutions to create those systemic changes—well then, this program is for them.

Because they will be paired with national and leading experts who have dedicated their careers to examining this to folks who are transformational in their thought processes, right? They'll be exposed to frameworks and models that they have not had and that other leaders have not been privvy to yet.

So, this is really quite an opportunity—a rare opportunity—to join an inaugural cohort of leaders who are brave or courageous, who want to gain the knowledge and the skill sets—the foundation—to take not only their careers to the next level, but to actually do something that is going to have a lasting impact.



Finally this morning, it's been 40 years since the first five cases of AIDS were identified. Since then, a lot of progress has been made in testing, treatment, and prevention of the disease, but recent trends tell us there's still more to do.

Tequam Tiruneh is ASTHO's senior analyst of clinical to community connections.


So, specific pockets of the population are continuing to see higher prevalence of HIV and higher rates of transmission.

And what this tells us is that programs and services are not reaching certain populations, and that issues like stigma—which in this case refers to negative attitudes and beliefs about people living with HIV—and broken trust in the healthcare system due to past and current experiences of mistreatment may be keeping people out of care.


In a recent blog article, Tiruneh outlines the steps state legislatures are taking to reduce stigma and advance access to HIV care and prevention.


Find a link to her report along with all of the other resources mentioned today in the show notes.

Also, remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or listen on Alexa or Google assistant.

And, if you have a minute, please take time to leave us a rating and a review.


Join us tomorrow for more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition.



Nirav Shah MD JD

Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention; President of ASTHO

Daniel Dawes JD

Executive Director, Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine

Tequam Tiruneh MPH

Senior Analyst, Clinical to Community Connections