427: PH Equity Corps Experience, Academy to Eliminate Structural Racism

Erika Akers, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Equity Corps Fellow, says the fellowship helped develop a health equity lens that she brings into her career; Wilma Alvarado-Little, New York State Health Department Associate...

Erika Akers, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Equity Corps Fellow, says the fellowship helped develop a health equity lens that she brings into her career; Wilma Alvarado-Little, New York State Health Department Associate Commissioner, takes part in an ASTHO academy about eliminating structural racism; Kimberlee Wyche Etheridge, ASTHO Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, writes a blog about ASTHO’s Health Equity Summit; and registration to attend ASTHO’s TechXpo and Futures Forum online is still open.


New York State Department of Health Webpage: Greetings from the Director

ASTHO Blog Article: The World That Should Be -- Closing Remarks from ASTHO’s 2023 Health Equity Summit

ASTHO Webpage: Public Health TechXpo and Futures Forum


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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Wednesday, May 24, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

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



I definitely have learned a lot things I didn't expect, like grants management and navigating tricky conversations with grantees and internal partners, you know, with all the bureaucracy in state government.


Erika Akers is a fellow with ASTHO's Public Health Equity Corp serving in Nebraska. Her work includes helping manage community-based organizations and nonprofits who've received money to address COVID-19 health disparities.


It was really cool to see just all the innovative approaches that the different organizations took to make a community impact. And I really saw this funding open doors for these organizations that we funded, and just really enjoyed seeing them take these projects to national stages to present at conferences and share best practices with others.


Akers says the program has helped her develop skills in public health.


I've felt like I've really been developing a health equity lens that I hope to take with me into other areas of public health throughout my career. And just really enjoyed seeing the successes of projects and helping get funding and resources to some of the non-traditional partners that are represented their communities and just doing some really important work, hoping that others will see the great work that they're doing and consider partnering with them for future funding and future projects.


Akers adds the fellowship has clarified her thoughts about her future.


We did a lot of monthly one-on-ones with ASTHO and the workforce development staff, many webinars, peer-to-peer connection meetings. We interacted with all the other Public Health Equity Corps fellows and AmeriCorps members and their respective host site staff. And then ASTHO's also great about mentorship and providing connections to other public health practitioners, and for me that was really instrumental for post-fellowship planning and helping me feel really confident about my public health career planning.


Akers believes the experience has been a good one and recommends others give it a try.


I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in learning, being challenged, and really wants to try out governmental public health work. It's obviously not for everyone, but I've met some of the most dedicated and passionate public health practitioners and even a ton of national service alumni who are always willing to share their expertise and help me learn and grow my skills.



Public health officials taking part in an ASTHO Academy about eliminating structural racism through policy are talking about their experience.

Wilma Alvarado-Little is associate commissioner in the New York State Health Department.


Our focus was to address one of our initiatives, which is legislatively mandated, which is mentorship in medicine and other health professionals.


The academy teaches teams how to advance policy systems and workforce changes to achieve health equity. Alvarado-Little says the academy process has led to greater awareness of her agency's program with important audiences.


So the office's participation in this ASTHO initiative helped build agency capacity around policy research, development, and evaluation to support internal organizational change, address institutional and structural racism to advance health equity, and forge multisector partnerships to address the social determinants of health and provide guidance to move forward with this item of interest.



Also today, ASTHO's Health Equity Summit was last month, but the campaign to address inequities never ends, as Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge has written a blog about the summit. Read her take on the meeting using the link in the show notes.


Finally this morning, this is day two of ASTHO's TechXpo in Chicago. If you want to catch up on the latest in public health technology, you can still buy an online ticket. It'll give you access to today's streaming content, plus a bonus event on June 15. There's a link to the TechXpo web page in the show notes.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Wilma Alvarado-Little MA MSW

Associate Commissioner, New York State Department of Health

Erika Akers

Public Health Equity Corps Fellow, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services