Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas

Health Equity & Social Justice

Our health and wellbeing are directly impacted by our community environments. Unfortunately, not all environments are designed to promote and support healthy people. Some communities face disproportionally lower air quality, lack access to healthy food and safe places to be physically active, and do not have systems that support quality education and employment. As a result, in the U.S. and around the world, people of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations still lag behind on most health indicators and health outcomes. 

At its core, public health must also be a call for social justice. The Public Health Institute is committed to researching and acting on preventable health disparities by developing, testing, and advocating for public health strategies that are designed to promote health equitydirectly intertwined with efforts to achieve social justice. Our health equity work includes efforts in chronic disease prevention, communicable disease prevention, climate change mitigation and solutions, violence prevention, and more. We work to advance community-based, health equity research and best practices, while also developing new leaders in the field.

Our expertise includes:

  • Research and data: Our experts have conducted cutting-edge research that has helped to demonstrate health disparities, and highlight the need for equitable solutions. 
  • Leadership development: PHI staff will work with you to create a leadership development program curriculum, using best practices, new technologies, and bringing health equity and social justice lenses to the work. We specialize in developing culturally-relevant and scalable leadership models, and have experience working across disciplines to advance health equity through transformational leadership. 
  • Program and policies to support health equity: We know that quality equitable health solutions aren't simply designed to rectify health disparities—they are also community-driven, and based in addressing a community's most pressing concerns. Our staff is available to design, advocate for, and manage programs and policies to advance equitable, community-based solutions. 
  • Evaluation: PHI offers ongoing and as-needed evaluation to measure your impacts in addressing health disparities to inform program improvement, and bolster success.
  • Training and capacity building: We also offer specialized trainings and technical assistance to support your efforts in advancing health equity. 


Resources and Tools

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Connie Chan Robison

Connie Chan Robison is executive director of the Center for Collaborative Planning, a training and technical assistance center at PHI. Robison prom...

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Won Kim Cook

Won Kim Cook, PhD, is an associate scientist at the Alcohol Research Group. She has a strong interest in immigrant alcohol use and other health iss...

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Amy DeLisio

Amy DeLisio, MPH, RD is the director at the Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition (CWN) and has over fourteen years of experien...

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Lori Dorfman

Lori Dorfman, DrPH, directs Berkeley Media Studies Group, which works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the...

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Denise Raquel Dunning

Dr. Denise Raquel Dunning is the founder and Executive Director of Rise Up, which activates women and girls to transform their lives, families, and...

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Sue Grinnell

Sue Grinnell, MPH, is Director of Business Strategy and Technology at PHI's Population Health Innovation Lab (PHIL). Grinnell joins PHI wi...

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Marta Induni

Marta Induni, PhD, is the research program director of the Survey Research Group (SRG) at PHI. With more than 20 years of survey research experienc...

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Genoveva Islas

Genoveva Islas, MPH, directs Cultiva La Salud, which works to address poor nutrition and physical inactivity in the San Joaquin Valley by creating ...

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Anne Kelsey Lamb

Anne Kelsey Lamb, MPH, is the director of Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) and its principal investigator. Serving as director sinc...

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Camillia Lui

Camillia K. Lui, PhD, is an Associate Scientist at the Alcohol Research Group.  Her research applies a life-course and intergeneratio...

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Tomás A. Magaña

Tomás A. Magaña, M.D., M.A., F.A.A.P. founded and directs the FACES for the Future Coalition, and leads national dissemination of the...

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Carmen Nevarez

Carmen Nevarez, MD, MPH, is PHI's vice president for external relations, preventive medicine advisor and director of the Center for Health...

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Linda Rudolph

Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH, is the Director of the Center for Climate Change and Health at PHI. She also provides consultation to local jurisdictions t...

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Susan Watson

Susan Watson is the Program Director for the CA4Health community of practice to advance chronic disease prevention and health equity across Califor...

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Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative
(PHI program 2002-2017)

The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII) is a nationally recognized leader in transforming public health practice to advance hea...

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Berkeley Media Studies Group

Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) works with community groups, journalists and public health professionals to use the power of the media to advan...

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Build Healthy Places Network

The Build Healthy Places Network catalyzes and supports collaboration across the health and community development sectors, together working to impr...

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CA4Health is a community of practice consisting of people and organizations working to advance chronic disease prevention and health equity in Cali...

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Center for Climate Change and Health

The Center for Climate Change and Health contributes to building healthy and climate-resilient communities that have the right tools to mitigate an...

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Center for Wellness and Nutrition

The Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition recognizes the connections among local community environments, poor diet, physic...

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Collective Impact Partnership: Increasing the Economic Power of Girls and Women in India

Rise Up and the Public Health Institute, in partnership with the Global Fund for Women, How Women Lead and World Pulse, are leading a three-year pr...

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Cultiva La Salud

As an initiative of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH), Cultiva La Salud works in Fresno, Kern and Stanislaus counti...

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GOJoven International

GOJoven International is a multi-year youth development fellowship program focused on building the capacity of young leaders and their organization...

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Health in All Policies

The Health in All Policies Task Force is a collaborative project between the Public Health Institute, the California Department of Public Health, a...

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Health Intervention Projects for Underserved Populations

Health Intervention Projects for Underserved Populations (HIPUP) aims to improve substance abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention and tr...

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Health Spectrum Program

Using a multi-dimensional emphasis that encompasses geographical, age, gender, socio-economic status, and race and ethnicity categories, the Health...

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Public Health Alliance of Southern California

The Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance) is a coalition of the executive leadership in local health departments in Southern Cal...

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Regional Asthma Management and Prevention Program

The Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP) program is a collaborative that promotes strategies for reducing asthma through a broad and co...

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Rise Up

PHI’s Rise Up activates women and girls to transform their lives, families, and communities through investment in local solutions, strengthen...

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Roots of Change

Roots of Change (ROC) is a think tank-and-do tank working to ensure emergence of a sustainable food system in California. ROC provides road maps to...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Advancing Health Equity Through Healthy Housing Policies

In 2015, PHI's Regional Asthma Management & Prevention program (RAMP) played an important role in advocating for two new healthy housing policies passed in California—SB 328 and SB 655—that will reduce exposure to asthma triggers, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color.

In recognition of this work and ongoing efforts in this area, RAMP received the 2016 Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes on behalf of the California Healthy Housing Coalition. The award recognizes excellence in healthy housing innovation and achievement.

RAMP continued its successful work with California Healthy Housing Coalition partners to improve housing quality. Closing a loophole in legislation RAMP worked to get signed last year (SB 328-Hueso), RAMP co-sponsored and the governor signed AB 2362 (Chu) to ensure tenants are notified of pesticide use, including those living in condominiums and townhomes.

In 2016, RAMP also co-sponsored a bill in California that gives tenants new rights when they discover dangerous mold, which is linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases. Now listed as a condition of substandard housing, tenants can hold landlords accountable if the problem is not fixed. Until the bill passed, tenants had few options if their residence had mold. With the new legislation, renters can now for the first time report mold problems to the city, which can then demand repairs and fine landlords who don't comply.

RAMP has plans to continue advocating for healthier housing in the years to come.

Guiding Funding Where It's Needed Most

Funders want to steer funding where it's needed most—but it's hard to make the case without data, especially on a hyper-local level. The Healthy Places Index, launched by PHI's Public Health Alliance of Southern California, uncovers community-level conditions that predict life expectancy, and then offers policy and other concrete actions to address them.

In 2018, grant making institutions incorporated the HPI in their selection criteria for more than $323 million in funding. Nearly 50 entities at the state, regional and local levels are using the HPI to guide state planning guidelines, carry out health needs assessments, conduct studies and trainings, prioritize investments, and more.



Mentoring the Diverse Health Care Workforce of Tomorrow

"FACES not only made me be want to be a doctor,” said Chris Travis (pictured, left), a 2007 graduate of FACES Oakland, and a first year medical student at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, “it introduced me to people who would help me one day make that dream a reality." 

Evaluations show that a full 100% of FACES students graduate high school, compared with only 40% of their peers in some communities. Nine out of 10 are accepted into post-secondary college or training, and a large number plan to go on to pursue healthcare and health-related professions.