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Read about Our Purpose

Read about Our Audience

Read about the Project Background

Read about the Reference Materials

Read the Acknowledgments

Our Purpose

Through this resource we share many inspiring examples of how health departments have concretely advanced health equity — both internally within their departments and externally with communities and other government agencies. The case studies included describe factors that enabled the work, what health departments did and their impacts, and advice for others wanting to replicate the work.

We also share resources developed by health departments and others, along with key actions health departments can take to advance their current practice towards health equity.

Check out this project's background below.

Our Audience

This website is geared towards local health departments who are bought into the need to prioritize health equity, and who understand the social determinants of health, but are seeking information on how to best move that work forward. Health department leadership — including commissioners, division and branch directors, executives, senior program managers, supervisors, etc. — may be best positioned to implement these practices. However, we believe that a wide range of staff have the power to start conversations and initiate changes that move in this direction.

If you’re looking for information about health equity in general, check out the Resources section.

Don’t Dip Your Toes: Jump In!

This resource is not intended as a step-by-step guide for health departments to take. On the contrary, we know that every health department has different capacities and constraints depending upon their financial, political, social, and historical context.

As Dr. Renee Canady stated, doing health equity work is like trying to get to the middle of a pool — it doesn’t matter where we dive in, as long as we dive in. Regardless of where we start with these transformative and strategic practices, the most important thing is to dive into the pool!

If you're ready to dive in and are looking for guidance, training, or technical assistance, contact us or check out our capacity building offerings.

Project Background

Although every jurisdiction’s health equity pool may be different, there are common approaches that different health departments have used to dive in. Prior to developing this website, Human Impact Partners conducted an environmental scan of health equity resources and found a set of common themes for how to advance health equity. We used these themes as a basis for the inside/outside approach articulated through the website (check out the materials we used to develop these themes).

We are grateful to our everyone who made this new resource possible.

Criteria for Case Study Inclusion

We identified the case studies on this website through outreach via our project advisors and related networks. To be included on the website, the case study had to meet the following inclusion criteria:

  1. Health department played a lead or central role in the effort.
  2. Although the health departments didn’t have to frame their work using specific language, the work had to address health equity, racism, oppression, privilege, etc. in some concrete way.
  3. The example was concrete and had positive impacts that could be noted or observed.
  4. Documentation about the work was available.

Our final case study selection was also informed by a desire for wide geographic representation and work at different scales. We developed the case studies by conducting a 45 to 90 minute interviews with key health department staff as well as through document review. The health department interviewee and the HIP team reviewed case studies. We intend to document additional case studies over time, and to provide new resources as they become available.

Political Context and Language Choices

We understand that health departments operate in a political and local context, and that context often determines the health equity framing and language that best resonates with staff and partners. We understand that some health departments intentionally don’t lead with words like power, racism, inequity — even though their work may actually be addressing these issues.

We intentionally aimed to present health department examples from diverse contexts, including red (Republican), blue (Democrat), and purple (combination of Republican/Democrat) cities, counties, and states. We use the language that the interviewees used in describing their work, and when offered, provided their specific advice for others working in a similar political context.

Reference Materials

We used the following materials to develop the strategic practices and the actions to advance health equity within each practice. View our Resources section to access resources for each of the strategic practices.

Resources Used to Develop the 15 Strategic Practices
Resources Used to Develop the Actions to Advance Equity


Project Advisors

The following health equity leaders served as project advisors during the six-month process to develop the website. We greatly appreciate their invaluable suggestions, input, and connections:

  • Manal Aboelata, Prevention Institute
  • Jeanne Ayers, Minnesota Department of Health
  • Stephanie Boarden, PolicyLink
  • Jacques Colon, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
  • Marjory Givens, University of Wisconsin
  • Chrissie Juliano, Big Cities Health Coalition/NACCHO
  • Susie Levy, Seattle City Council
  • Wendy Loomas, Solano County Health & Social Services
  • Amanda Navarro, PolicyLink
  • Bob Prentice, Retired/Former Director of BARHII
  • Linda Rudolph, Center for Climate Change & Health
  • Pamela Russo, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Kathi Schaff, Berkeley Media Studies Group (formerly Alameda County Public Health Department)
  • Brian Smedley, National Collaborative for Health Equity
  • Evonda Thomas-Smith, Evanston Department of Health & Human Services
  • Toby Urvater, Maricopa County Department of Public Health
  • Andy Wessel, Douglas County Health Department
  • Sandra Witt, The California Endowment
  • Naima Wong Croal, Consultant for National Collaborative for Health Equity

We deeply appreciate the following individuals who provided user feedback: Stephanie Caldwell, Van Do-Reynoso, and Geof Swain.

We are grateful to the many project team members who worked to bring this website to life. First and foremost, we appreciate the commitment and thoughtfulness of Megan Gaydos, public health consultant, for her leadership in managing this project and generating case study content.

Thank you to other team members as well: Lili Farhang, HIP Co-Director; Logan Harris, HIP Research Associate; Jonathan Heller, HIP Co-Founder and Co-Director; Lee Taylor-Penn, Graduate Intern; Ana Tellez, HIP Communications Director; Ayalen Carrasco, UI Designer; Cozette Lehman, Graphic Designer; Sonja Leix, Web Designer; Megan Tady, Copyeditor; Janna R. White, Copyeditor; Megan Woo, Web Developer.

This website was developed through the generous support of The California Endowment.

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