Turning great ideas into healthier communities

Issue Areas

Social Determinants of Health

Malnutrition, food insecurity and hunger often go hand-in-hand with obesity and chronic disease. Many vulnerable families live in neighborhoods that lack access to affordable and healthy foods, relying on cheap, high-calorie, low-nutrient foods to get by. Poverty, social inequity, and other key social determinants of health are largely to blame.

PHI champions a public health approach that doesn’t just call on people to eat healthier or exercise more. Rather, we call for a shift in the conditions that lead to unhealthy outcomes in such epidemic proportions. We work together with communities to implement on-the-ground policies and programs that make healthy foods more accessible and affordable; advance local, sustainable agriculture; create and promote safe places to be physically active; and more. Many of these efforts have co-benefits for the environment and local economic development.

Our expertise includes:

  • Advocating for policies that improve social determinants: PHI experts can work with you to advance policy solutions that address the social determinants of health. In addition, we are available to track federal and state legislation, regulations and budgeting processes across a wide range of social issues that impact health.
  • Facilitating collaboration and coalitions: PHI has pioneered the "health in all policies" approach, and our experts are available to help identify and support opportunities for collaboration with diverse partners from multiple sectors, such as transportation, economic development, local community groups, medicine, and more. 
  • Capacity building and training: Addressing the social determinants requires a broad-reaching approach to understanding the environments that shape and impact health outcomes. PHI staff is available to train and consult with community collaboratives, public health departments, organizational staff, and multi-sector partners on a social determinants of health approach. 


Resources and Tools



Cynthia Carter Perrilliat

Rev. Cynthia Carter Perrilliat, MPA, is the executive director of the Alameda County Care Alliance (ACCA), a faith-based program in partnership wit...

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Rosemary Cress

Dr. Rosemary Cress is a Research Program Director with the Public Health Institute’s Cancer Registry of Greater California (CRGC), the larges...

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Tracy Delaney

Tracy Delaney, Ph.D. is founding director of the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, a regional coalition of eight local health departme...

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Paul English

Paul English, PhD, MPH, is state environmental epidemiologist and branch scientific advisor for the Environmental Health Investigations Branch at t...

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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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David Hausner

Dr. David Hausner is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the Sustaining Technical and Analytic Resources (STAR) project, a new...

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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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Douglas Jutte

Douglas Jutte, MD, MPH is Executive Director of the Build Healthy Places Network, a national organization that catalyzes and supports collaboration...

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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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Mary Pittman

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, is president and chief executive officer of the Public Health Institute (PHI). A nationally recognized leader in improving c...

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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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Alameda County Care Alliance

The Alameda County Care Alliance Advanced Illness Care Program™ (ACCA-AICP) is a faith-based, person-centered, lay care navigation interventi...

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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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Behavioral Health and Recovery Studies

Behavioral Health and Recovery Studies examines a variety of issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, mental health disorders, criminal justice sy...

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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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Center to Advance Community Health & Equity (CACHE)

The Center to Advance Community Health & Equity (CACHE) is housed at the Public Health Institute and has expertise to help nonprofit hospitals,...

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Dialogue4Health (D4H), a project of PHI, is a community that conceives, builds and shares strategies to improve the public's health. D4H p...

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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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National Alliance for Health

The National Alliance for Health (NAFH) provides a forum for national public health and health care organization’s senior leadership to dialo...

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Public Health Alliance of Southern California

The Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Alliance) is a coalition of local health departments in Southern California. Collectively our me...

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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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Tracking California

Tracking California (formerly the California Environmental Health Tracking Program) compiles, analyzes, and shares data to identify and understand ...

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Here's How We're Making a Difference

Harnessing Data to Drive Change

PHI’s Build Healthy Places Network catalyzes and supports collaboration across the health and community development sectors to improve health in low-income communities. MeasureUp, a microsite of resources and tools curated by the Build Healthy Places Network, helps practitioners make the case for the impact of neighborhood investments on community health and well-being—without having to become an economist.

Explore MeasureUp.


Implementing Public Health Programs Around the Globe

Photo credit: Global Health Fellows Program II, Communications, Outreach, and Diversity
Photo credit: Global Health Fellows Program II, Communications, Outreach, and Diversity

PHI operates the Global Health Fellows Program (GHFP) II, a worldwide, $40 million/year initiative in partnership with USAID. PHI’s robust but nimble infrastructure and operations allowed it to successfully roll out GHFP-I, and then successfully rebid in 2011 when the next phase, GHFP-II, called for more robust internal systems.