November 19, 2020
Michael K. Frisby
202-625-4328/[email protected]



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Innovative, interactive experience brings comprehensive data to researchers and the public

WASHINGTON – The Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative today launched a state-of-the-art platform that supports a new narrative on health inequities and provides achievable pathways for states to eliminate health disparities. In the midst of a national Reckoning on Race and the COVID-19 pandemic, this comprehensive data on populations of color is a critical resource for policymakers, as well as the medical and public health fields.

HOPE data portrays an America that would be dramatically different if the impact of racism embedded in our society was eliminated and everyone experienced equal social, economic and health opportunities: 70 million more people would live in low poverty neighborhoods; 55 million more adults would live in households with a livable income; and 54 million more adults would achieve very good or excellent health.

Specifically, HOPE tracks 27 indicators on health outcomes and factors that shape health and well-being – social and economic factors, community and safety conditions, physical environment and access to health care.  Their research on these social determinants of health identified the opportunity gaps for people of color that frequently lead to racial inequities in health outcomes.

“When we started the HOPE Initiative, we recognized that fresh research was needed to change the disparity narrative,” said Dr. Brian Smedley, an architect of the HOPE Initiative. “For too long, the attention has been on identifying health disparities and not enough on addressing those disparities.”  Dr. Smedley, who is the Chief of Psychology in the Public Interest at the American Psychological Association, added: “With this data, we can pinpoint where resources must be directed to make today’s Reckoning on Race meaningful and lasting.”

The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine today published a powerful infographic on their website based on the HOPE research. Featuring 10 of the 27 HOPE indicators, it was developed for their Race & Medicine page as part of their commitment to antiracism. The HOPE website at will provide an interactive experience with all 27 indicators, allowing users to explore data segmented by indicators, states, race and ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

“Our analyses, for the first time, provide national and state leaders practical data to move beyond talking about racial disparities to setting actionable goals and charting a path forward for achieving equity in opportunity and health,” said Nadia Siddiqui, chief health equity officer of  Texas Health Institute.

The research found that health status for racial groups is not uniform. Some minorities in the healthiest regions, particularly areas with less diversity, such as New England or the Northern Great Plains states, report better health. Health profiles for racial groups also vary: Just one- third (34%) of Hispanic adults reported being in very good or excellent health compared to more than half of Asian/Pacific Islanders (55%) and White (53%) adults.

HOPE data demonstrates the impact of the nation’s legacy of systemic racism that has left low- income and communities of color disenfranchised from opportunities and contributed to their poor health. The research, which includes data on whites, was conducted before the COVID-19 outbreak. Led by the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE), the HOPE Initiative is a collaboration with Texas Health Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) Center on Society and Health. NCHE, a renown national organization, addresses health inequities through leadership collaboration, innovative use of data and racial healing.

“This is groundbreaking research,” declared Dr. Gail C. Christopher, NCHE’s executive director. “The HOPE data can help public health officials move beyond identifying inequities in communities of color to spurring action addressing social determinants affecting their health. For America to be a healthy nation, we must make health equity a reality for everyone and overcome the impact of the racism embedded in our society.”

Dr. Derek Chapman, Interim Director of the VCU’s Center on Society and Health, said, “Policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders can use the HOPE data to measure how far states must go to achieve equitable opportunities for health and well-being, and inform policy solutions and practices that advance health equity.”

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HOPE calculates obtainable goals for each category by averaging the best assessments from the top five states in the country, establishing realistic objectives for the states to reach. HOPE assesses indicators, sets goals and computes the progress required by each state for racial groups to reach health equity. Meeting the goals would provide pathways to stable jobs, quality schools, safe environments, food security and other resources that contribute significantly to improved health outcomes. For instance:

improved neighborhood conditions to lift them out of areas with concentrated poverty. Nearly 107,000 African Americans also need to be provided with fair opportunities to earn livable wages to sustainably support their households.

“HOPE measures affirm well known challenges in states and regions such as in the South. But these data add new insights that find how risks to health and life can affect all regardless of race or ethnicity. In that way it suggests that opportunities for programs and policies to improve health can and should aim to benefit individuals and communities across these states,” said Dr. Dennis Andrulis, Senior Research Scientist at Texas Health Institute and Associate Professor at University of Texas School of Public Health.

Using the HOPE data, Dr. Christopher said that NCHE will intensify its work identifying policies and practices that can help states, as well as other jurisdictions, close opportunity gaps that are barriers preventing people of color from improving their health outcomes.

“It is no accident that communities of color have been hit the hardest by the devastation of COVID-19,” said Dr. Christopher. “These are the same communities facing steep systemic barriers to basic opportunities. The HOPE Initiative is a Call to Action to address the racism contributing to health inequities, and limiting health outcomes for too many people of color.”



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By Brentin Mock

U.S. fair housing laws passed in the 1960s and ‘70s were supposed to help bring racial parity to a housing market that since its beginning confined Black homebuyers to the cheapest forms of housing in the most undesirable neighborhoods. But since those laws were passed, the disparity in the appraised values between homes in majority-white and predominantly non-white neighborhoods has widened dramatically, according to a new study.

This disparity can’t be fully explained by past racially discriminatory practices in the real estate industry, such as redlining, conclude University of Pittsburgh sociologist Junia Howell and University of New Mexico sociologist Elizabeth Korver-Glenn (Read more).


September 9, 2019

Contact: Michael K. Frisby

202-625-4328/[email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC – The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) today announced that Executive Director and co-Founder Dr. Brian Smedley will resign effective October 31, 2019, to assume a new role as Chief of Psychology in the Public Interest at the American Psychological Association. Dr. Gail Christopher, former Vice President and senior advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will succeed Dr. Smedley as NCHE Executive Director on November 1, 2019.

As Vice President for Food, Health and Well-being at the Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Christopher oversaw programming in Food, Health and Well-being, Leadership and Civil Engagement, and place-based investments in Mississippi and New Orleans.

Further, she created the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) process, an unprecedented, multi-sector coalition effort to apply the globally recognized Truth and Reconciliation process to address injustices in U.S. communities. TRHT built on the success of American Healing, a multi-year investment strategy created by Dr. Christopher in 2008 to support research, communications and policies fostering racial equity and healing.

“I am honored to return to lead this work that is so vital to the health of our country and I am deeply appreciative of Dr. Smedley’s outstanding work that not only sustained, but dramatically enhanced the mobilization of communities to end health inequities,” said Dr. Christopher, who brings extensive knowledge and experience in creating comprehensive approaches to well-being and is widely recognized for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse.

“I look forward to working with the NCHE National Advisory Committee, the entire talented NCHE team, national leadership networks and philanthropic organizations to help America develop a true Culture of Health, ‘’ she said. “Doing so will require eliminating the antiquated, but still deeply entrenched belief in a hierarchy of human value and the consequences of that detrimental belief system. Changing the culture requires changing hearts and minds and creating a culture fueled by compassion, empathy and mutual regard.”

Previously, Dr. Christopher was Executive Director of The Innovation in American Government Awards Program at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She also served as Vice President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, where she led the Joint Center Health Policy Institute, which implemented powerful initiatives to address social determinants of health disparities, including the Dellums Commission. Named for the now deceased Congressman Ronald V. Dellums, members prioritized the needs of boys and men of color.

Under Dr. Smedley’s leadership, NCHE continued this important work after spinning off from the Joint Center in 2014.

“We are grateful for Dr. Smedley’s many contributions to NCHE and the field of health equity,” said NCHE Advisory Committee Chair Dr. Linda Rae Murray, “and look forward to Dr. Christopher’s return to the pioneering work she began and has sustained for several decades.”

Among Dr. Smedley’s accomplishments, he co-directed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leadership National Program Center, along with Natalie S. Burke, President & CEO of CommonHealth ACTION. Now in its fourth year, the Culture of Health Leadership program accelerates the potential of leaders around the country to work more deeply within their sector or across sectors to build a Culture of Health.

At the American Psychological Association, Dr. Smedley will lead the APA’s Public Interest Directorate, which includes offices on aging, disability, children and families, ethnic minority affairs, women, and sexual orientation and gender diversity, among other issues. APA is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the U.S. and its members include more than 118,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.

“I will deeply miss my colleagues and the important work that we are doing at NCHE,” Smedley said, “but could not be more thrilled to have Dr. Christopher succeed me. In so doing, we are giving back to Dr. Christopher the great gift that she gave us when she left the Joint Center for the Kellogg Foundation.”

Spanning four decades, Dr. Christopher has created and directed efforts investing more than $1 billion to improve health, racial healing and equity in American society. In her new position, Dr. Christopher will continue expanding RxRacial Healing, a movement launched with five organizations, including NCHE, to mobilize a critical mass of people across the United States committed to healing the racial wounds of the past while seeking an end to racism and the inequities and injustices it creates, as well as the resulting poor health outcomes.

Her distinguished career has been honored by many organizations, including the National Academy of Public Administration, the Health Brain Trust of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Society for Public Health Education, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs and Grantmakers in Health. Dr. Christopher is Chair of the Board of the Trust for America’s Health.



The Jefferson County Memorial Project, a grassroots, citizen-led coalition is working to retrieve our county monuments from EJI’s National Memorial to Peace in Justice in Montgomery. Currently, we are building out our Interfaith Interpretation Coalition to think through ways religious leader in the Greater Birmingham area can help our constituents understand this traumatic history.

Please see the Jefferson County Report below:

About the project:

Traversing Divides: Interdisciplinary Research in Population Health and Health Disparities
October 1, 2019 9:30 AM- 5:00 PM
Sheraton Seattle Hotel
Seattle, Washington

This one-day workshop will provide an orientation to the value of interdisciplinary collaboration, challenges inherent in interdisciplinary work, and skills and resources that facilitate interdisciplinary success in population health science. Workshop participants will engage with leading population health and interdisciplinary scholars in interactive group exercises and case studies with a focus on the combining the knowledge, theory, and methods of diverse fields to understand and address health disparities.

The workshop is open to scientists training and/or working in any field that contributes knowledge, at one or more levels of analysis (from the molecular to the societal and environmental), relevant to understanding the causes of health disparities and/or the ways in which health disparities can be ameliorated. Students who have completed at least two years of post-baccalaureate training in a specific discipline and early career scientists are especially encouraged to apply, but individuals at all career stages are welcome.

Workshop enrollment is limited to facilitate the success of small-group activities. Applications will be accepted through May 5, 2019. Applicants will be notified by the end of June.

Funding to defray travel costs will be available on a limited basis.

View the Agenda

Register Here

June 26, 2018

Washington, DC – The National Collaborative for Health Equity joins hundreds of other human and civil rights and public health organizations in condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today in the Trump v. Hawaii case, which upholds the Administration’s ban on travel to the United States from several mostly Muslim countries. The ruling, which ignores foundational American principles of religious freedom and human rights, also poses significant threats to the health and well-being of Muslim Americans, in that it contributes to the corrosive anti-Islamic climate in the country. No matter how much the Administration attempts to dismiss the religious intolerance that fuels this policy, it is clear from the President’s prior and current rhetoric that the policy has its roots in a destructive worldview that dehumanizes racial and religious minorities.

A large body of public health and social science research document how stress associated with stigma, dehumanization, and discrimination is detrimental to physical and mental health. Several studies, for example, find that the physical and mental health of Muslim Americans declined during the Islamophobic climate that swept the country in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Federal statistics document a steady increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the wake of the 2016 election. And Muslim Americans may face a greater risk of discrimination in employment, housing, and even health care in the face of such attitudes, all of which increase risks for poor health.

Together with the Administration’s policies regarding detainment of asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border, it is clear that President Trump has created a hostile climate for racial and religious minorities. This ultimately hurts all who live in the United States, in that it frays bonds of trust and tolerance. We encourage all who are outraged by the practice of making policy based on bigotry and intolerance to peacefully make their voices heard, whether in the many protests being organized around the country, in letters to newspaper editors, on social media, and all other platforms. Such actions will ultimately marginalize voices of hatred and reaffirm our national values of inclusiveness and tolerance.


By Laura Smith (Timeline)

On a Saturday morning in 1965, movers came to the Johnson home. Kathy Johnson and her three-year-old sister listened at the breakfast table, as their mother, Elsie, gave the movers instructions. The family was heartbroken. They didn’t want to leave their modest, two-story clapboard home, which often smelled of Elsie’s famous dinner rolls. But the house was slated to be bulldozed by the city of Charlottesville, as were 139 other black families’ homes, 30 black-owned businesses, and a church in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood. This “urban renewal project” would be done in the name of “progress.”

But as Mindy Thompson Fullilove, a research psychiatrist studying the effect of so-called urban renewal projects on black communities, would later ask, “Progress for whom?” It certainly wasn’t for residents of Charlottesville’s largest black neighborhood, or any of the other more than 800 black communities that had already been displaced by 1962.

(MSNBC) – Trump’s media availability drew intense criticism from the right. Former GOP Rep. David Jolly says today may be the start of a primary movement to replace Trump. He joins Lawrence O’Donnell and Jarvis DeBerry to discuss Trump’s long pattern of bigoted behavior. | Duration: 8:46

By David Love

Much these days is said of income inequality in the U.S., of the gaping, ever-expanding chasm that separates the haves from the have nots, the rich from the poor, the 1 percent from everyone else. This, in the richest nation in the world. One author, a prominent MIT economist, has taken this discourse a step further and has concluded that America has regressed into a developing nation for most people. There is a dual economy, he states — one low-wage and the other high-income, with the former having no influence in the public policy arena and finding itself subject to the machinations of the latter.

In his new book, “The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy,” Peter Temin, professor emeritus of economics at MIT, lays out his findings on the structure of economic inequality in America with a rigorous, often-neglected analysis of the role of race. In his research, Temin found there is no single national economy but rather two separate economies: 20 percent of people are in the FTE sector, the elite economy of the country named for finance, technology and electronics, while the remaining 80 percent are in the low-wage economy. There is no longer a middle class, with most of that group emerging in the poorer economy and only a handful finding themselves in the high-end economy.  (Read more)

In the week since the presidential election, the nation has witnessed an ugly outpouring of hate.  As if a lid had been lifted off of a simmering hot cauldron, a latent but never dormant force of intolerance and bigotry served as a driving force in the election, and found opportunities for expression in its aftermath.  Innocent people and communities have been terrorized as a spike of potential hate crimes has been reported – such as Muslim women’s hijabs being grabbed off of their heads, black college students being called the n-word, swastikas painted on homes and temples.  These actions have outraged us all, and call into question the progress that we have made toward building a more just and inclusive society.

The expressions of bigotry, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in the aftermath of last week’s election must be stopped.  But the ideology behind these attacks – even if never expressed – also poses a tremendous barrier to building a Culture of Health, which prioritizes equity and values all populations equally.

At the National Collaborative for Health Equity, we stand with all leaders and movements dedicated to principles of love and non-violence.

We demand that all of our nation’s leaders – Republican, Democratic, independent, or other – openly and actively condemn hate, bigotry, and intolerance, and all forms of its expression.

But they must go further.  Leaders must explicitly state the value of equity, diversity, and inclusion.  They must acknowledge and own our nation’s history, which explains today’s persistent racial inequalities.  They must understand their privilege and how it shapes their understanding of and ways of operating in a diverse world.  They must have the empathy to understand the struggles and dreams of new arrivals to our country.

We, too, must act, to compel our leaders to action.  We must link our efforts more effectively and efficiently with our sister and brother social and racial justice movements.  We must raise our voices against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.  We must decry the gender bias and misogyny that results in women receiving lower pay for same work, or to face harassment, discrimination, or violence.

We write to you offer opportunities to respond, and in the coming days will open a forum for ideas that you may have.  We’ll:

Stay strong.  Stay courageous.  Stay determined.  And stay tuned for more details from the National Collaborative for Health Equity.  Please know that we support and value your work!

In solidarity,


Brian Smedley