Lauren W. Reliford is a passionate and mission-oriented public and population health professional focused on bridging the gap between social theory, spirituality, research, and practice to the forefront of our major policy decisions. She recently earned her Master’s in social work, focusing primarily on the biological impacts of trauma in Black birthing women and the need for policy solutions, such as the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 (S. 346/H.R. 959).
Lauren’s work as a public health lobbyist for ten years prior to graduate school allowed her to address the racist systemic and institutional structures that prevented whole health (physical, mental, behavioral, emotional) for Black and Brown communities, and it is work she is blessed to continue as political director at Sojourners. Lauren also credits her time doing frontline social work during the pandemic as a turning point in her life and career that demonstrated the real need to address the ineligibility requirements in policies and programs that further poverty and oppression for aging and older adults in need.
Though she is a macro social work practitioner, Lauren still engages with the clinical practitioners in the hopes that their direct experience working with her focus populations will help build a bottom-up, middle-out policy formulation process that centers the lived experience of Black and Brown communities. Her hope is to continue the good work and act on her morals and values at a policy level that either creates a space at the table—or builds a new one—for lived experience.