I have leveraged my position to guide deep and meaningful conversations around health outcomes driven by racism, discrimination, and other social inequities among department staff, even while others in leadership have remained silent on this topic. In the days following national headline-making political scandals involving blackface and other explicitly racist costumes dawned by the state's highest ranking leaders, my leadership approach to advancing equity has been tested, but remains resilient.
Director, Office of Health EquityVirginia Department of Health
Dr. Lauren Powell is the youngest professional, and the first with a PhD, to serve as Director of Health Equity for Virginia, leading statewide strategic plans and initiatives toward achieving health equity for Virginia’s 8.4 million residents.
Lauren works tirelessly to achieve health equity for Virginia and advocates on behalf of economically disinvested, forgotten communities and leads policy analyses, state-wide programing efforts, and funding initiatives to address barriers to access to care and the social determinants of health. One of the most important facets of the position lies in the challenge of helping policymakers and leaders understand the connection between systemic, systematic, and generational racism and other forms of oppression, to health inequities. Leading these conversations links discrimination of all forms, particularly racism, and the health of under-resourced populations clear and undeniable.
Lauren earned a Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Clinical and Population Health Research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.