College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences > Academics > Public Health > About > Message from the Director
Happy Autumn Greetings!
It has been a busy and fulfilling start to the year.
We also welcomed a new Assistant Professor, Dr. Jessica Polos, in our Social Epidemiology concentration. Dr. Polos brings a wealth of experience in social determinants of health, with a particular focus on structural racism. Along with Dr. Polos, we welcomed Dr. John Mazzeo as a permanent faculty member in our program, in the Community Health Practice concentration. While many of you know Dr. Mazzeo as our long-term Director, you may not know about his expertise in global health initiatives, and his passion for health equity. We are incredibly lucky to have both Dr. Polos and Dr. Mazzeo on our team!
At DePaul, we are immersed in the Vincentian mission that centers us in social justice for all persons, and a calling to address the vast inequities we witness. The DePaul mantra “here we do" is particularly appropriate in public health, where we prepare students to address inequities with thoughtful, community-driven public health practice, and by using data to prompt action. Our strength is in our collective commitment to service, collaboration, advocacy, and transformation. However, we can only create significant change as a collective network that builds on the strengths of all the parts.
In the past few years, our collective approach has been affected by disconnection. While we all understood the public health necessity of separation, vaccination and treatment advances have allowed many of us to navigate toward in-person engagement again – and our need for belonging has never been greater. To heed that call, we planned and convened our annual Health Equity and Social Justice Conference in person this year. We were thrilled to welcome almost 200 public health practitioners, researchers, care providers, DePaul MPH Alumni, and students to Malcolm X College for a one day conference, centered in our theme of belonging. You can read more from our planning committee about our theme here:
Reflecting on the conference, it was evident that those of you who attended were inspired and amazed at the range of expertise, but more significantly – invigorated by the opportunity to convene, share ideas, and plan collective action. I am including some highlights below:
First, we were so pleased to welcome back Dr. Derek Griffith (DePaul Alum!) to open our conference and provide a foundation for us to discuss health equity and structural racism. You can see a recording of Dr. Griffith's talk here: HESJ 2022 Conference Dr. Griffith's Keynote Presentation.
In addition to oral sessions, we held our inaugural networking lunch in conjunction with our poster presentation session. For many attendees, this opportunity to identify partners who were passionate about the same topic was the highlight of the conference.
In keeping with our conference roots, we also held concurrent skill-building sessions to facilitate workforce development opportunities.
In addition to skill-building, our panel option was quite popular this year, offering attendees multi-sector or multidisciplinary perspectives on current health issues.
With the goal of community-driven change, we closed the conference with a panel discussing the successful community advocacy to Stop General Iron. This panel, organized by Dr. Jim Bloyd, featured two community activists, Oscar Sanchez and Beria Hampton, who shared key lessons for the audience. The recording of the panel can be found here:
We appreciated everyone who helped to disseminate information about the conference, submitted abstracts, presented, and attended – for helping to make this year's HESJ one to remember!
We owe a debt of gratitude to our student volunteers, some of whom can be seen below. They showed up early, stayed late, and ensured a smooth experience throughout the day. And, a special shout out to our own Graduate Admissions Guru Extraordinaire, Mary Palin, for helping with registration all day!
In our office, the small but mighty team that managed conference logistics included our Program Assistant, Anne Sedlacek. While Anne has moved on to new challenges, her contributions to this event and the start of our academic year were crucial and much appreciated.
The largest debt of gratitude is undoubtedly owed to our own Manager of Community Partnerships, Emily Tamblyn, who spent day and night executing this conference. This work continued at the event, where Emily was entirely too busy at the conference to pose for a photo. Thank you, Emily!
We look forward to an exciting academic year ahead of us, and welcome your partnership in all things DePaul MPH!
Suzanne Carlberg-Racich, PhD, MSPH
Director and Associate Professor, MPH Program