Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County

| December 16 2022

The Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County (CHE Cook County) works to change the maldistribution of money, power and resources that produces health inequities and  gross injustice. We believe we can make that change by raising awareness, advancing policy, and building power among oppressed populations. To achieve health equity, we focus on the root causes of health inequities that are at the structural level of society.


CHE Cook County has several priorities, which express our mission and values (see our home page):

  1. Build membership of the Collaborative through increased opportunities for new participants to work together on concrete and meaningful tasks;
  2. Increase the capacity of organizations advocating for equity in housing, immigration, workplace, education, nutrition, the environment, and the “pillars of health” (Nicholas Freudenberg 2021 “At What Cost?”) to use health data critically in support of their policy goals. 
  3. Increase the strength of existing relationships and create new ones with racial and health justice organizations, academics, and governmental public health staff in order to reduce health inequities.
  4. Engage in dialogue with organizers and activists about how power affects the creation and use of data, the science of epidemiology, and policy change. 
  5. Better understand and use communication strategies of framing and messaging to promote social justice. 

Collaborative for Health Equity Cook County used data to support residents’ demand that the City of Chicago deny General Iron/RMG a permit to operate a polluting facility in their Chicago neighborhood. We used data (qualitative and quantitative) in public letters & petitions, tweets, and press conferences. We use data from CDPH to show the operation of the polluter will worsen inequities between Southeast Black and Latinx and working people and high income white people in Lincoln Park.


Participating in Leveraging Hope help us make progress on the work we are doing:

  1. From increased dialogue and communication, CHE would have a better understanding of how organizations in the LH coalition can win their policy agenda using HOPE data.
  2. Members of the CHE coalition will have an increased understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of health data in general, and be familiar with the ‘basics’ of population health indicators
  3. Relationships will be strengthened between members of the LH Coalition through structured and unstructured one-on-one meetings and conversations 
  4. Participation will provide support for practical application—in analysis, framing, or communication, for example– of critical perspectives of public health and epidemiology (Breilh, 2021; Gonsalves, 2020; Krieger, 2021; Petteway, 2020; Thrasher, 2022)A critique of  “conventional public health” is that epidemiology is dominated by a biomedical, reductionist viewpoint that results in an inability to transform society producing systems that support life. 
  5. We would be better positioned to contribute to the local governmental public health planning and assessment projects required by all state-certified public health departments.
  6. We could make recommendations to local governmental agencies, including public health departments.
  7. CHE Cook County could begin to describe historical milestones in Chicago and the region that provide context to otherwise ahistorical use of population health outcome indicators, risk-factors, measures of living conditions, etc. Examples are the dashboards used for Covid-19 and population health data, including Chicago Health Atlas, and others. 
  8. Through discussion and conversation among its members, the we would examine the role of power (and the most useful meaning(s) of power ) including in creation of policy, defining policy options, framing the terms of debate, creating and interpreting population health data, creating hierarchies of dominated and dominating (White supremacist, corporate class elite, patriarchal, …)   populations. 
  9. Begin to outline a strategic path in Chicago and its suburbs for successful power building for health equity among LH members and other anti-racist, pro-social justice organizations.



Breilh, J. (2021). Critical Epidemiology and the People’s Health. Oxford University Press.


Gonsalves, G. (2020, October 22). We’re Never Going Back to Normal. 


Krieger, N. (2021). Ecosocial theory, embodied truths, and the people’s health. Oxford University Press.


Petteway, R. J. (2020). LATENT//Missing: On Missing Values, Narrative Power, and Data Politics in Discourse of COVID-19. Health Education & Behavior, 47(5), 671–676.


Thrasher, S. W. (2022, February 10). There Is Nothing Normal about One Million People Dead from COVID. Scientific American.