Turning great ideas into healthier communities


PHI Statement on 2016 Elections

November 15, 2016


Over a week has now passed since the Presidential election and it will be some time before we can assess the full implications for our nation’s health and the health and well being of vulnerable populations across the globe. As the president of an organization whose work and values are centered on health and equity, I am devastated and deeply concerned by the rhetoric and actions of racism, intolerance and violence that led up to and have grown louder in the aftermath of last week’s election. Bigotry, hatred and intolerance do not build health nor foster equity; division does not lead to growth and strength.

And yet I still have hope. The Public Health Institute does a large part of our work in community, and I have seen how powerful and transformative that work can be. When I feel disheartened, I think of my colleagues. Genoveva Islas in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of farmworkers, heads PHI's Cultiva la Salud. She helps local leaders become powerful voices for community change; she works with local vendors (mobile and on foot) to sell healthy foods and to create economic vitality and resilience; she listens to and reflects the priorities of people who are her neighbors and community members. She has been tireless in advocating for the health and well being of a very vulnerable community, and it is making a difference. Veva was also appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the board of California’s health exchange, Covered California, where she helps lead work that ensures every person in California can access the care and services they need.

Like Veva, many of you work across the country in communities large and small, and for many of the same reasons. Where we take care of each other, where we are generous and kind, where we speak up and listen, and where we prioritize not just what is best for us, but what is best for each other—these are the places where there is hope and the potential for positive change. Whatever barriers we may see on a national level, it is by working together in community that we will continue to build health and equity and protect the rights, dignity and lives of all people.

That has always been the work of the Public Health Institute—whether researching an issue, framing a message, or training community health workers and young leaders. Our values will not falter. If anything, we work harder when the need is greatest. We will continue to press for evidence-based policy and practice change on behalf of vulnerable communities, and to use our research and best-practices as a compass to guide right and ethical investment and action. 

We will keep you updated as PHI develops its agenda for the next four years based on values, data and evidence. PHI's public health and equity priorities have withstood many transitions since we began fifty-two years ago, and we will continue to advance. 

I look forward to working with each of you as part of a stronger, more committed and even bolder network.