Center for Health Equity

Engaging Communities, Eliminating Health Disparities, Advancing Social Justice

Since 2011, the Center for Health Equity (CHE) seeks to understand and ultimately eliminate health inequities in under resourced, vulnerable, and underserved communities and populations, particularly those in Western Pennsylvania. CHE addresses issues attributed to institutional racism, builds strategic partnerships across sectors and communities, acknowledges a social equity in all policies perspective, and the public sector's role in achieving health equity for its' citizenry. 

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Health Equity and COVID-19​

We're working towards an equity-oriented response to the pandemic.

A Health Equity Response to COVID-19 in Allegheny County

“When the pandemic first started, there were many of us that were worried that the toll on underserved populations, particularly African Americans where I focus, would bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19,” said EPI’s Tiffany Gary-Web. "So I started locally asking for data by race and trying to understand if what was going to happen in our area…we’re not having the same access to testing. This is just one example.”  

EPI's Mendez addresses Townhall Tuesday: What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About COVID-19

Assistant professor of epidemiology Dara Mendez joined a panel of community leaders on this week's Townhall Tuesday: What Black Pittsburgh Needs to Know About COVID-19. Mendez talked about contact tracing and the importance of continued testing, particularly with regard to Allegheny County's transition to into the yellow phase and missing racial data. Researchers are working closely with multiple organizations to expand testing, including free a... 

Systemic Racism in the Time of COVID-19, Maseru on Tuskegee University Lecture Series (video)

In the first William "Bill" Jenkins Lecture at the Department of Graduate Public Health in the College of General Medicine at Tuskegee University, CHE's Noble Maseru spoke of Jenkins' committment to social justice through workforce development and tangentially addressed bioethics. "We don't see COVID-19 as an isolated moment [and we need to be] addressing and seeking in what took place in our history so that we can move forward and not make the ... 

"Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings." 

-Nelson Mandela

Maseru on Black History Month in Pittsburgh

THE PITTSBURGH STUDY - Center for Health Equity Director Noble Maseru asks, "What can we Pittsburghers do to achieve an inclusive and socially equitable city? in the first case, we can express our preference for behavior that reflects our views on social justice in the ballot box - so vote!"  

Mendez addresses contributing factors to the racial inequalities in pregnancy, birth, and women's health

NEW PITTSBURGH COURIER - The CDC also found that about 3 out of 5 pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths are preventable. The work of Dara Mendez examines how the environment, policies, and systems affect pregnancy outcomes. "If we’re trying to center the experiences of the most marginalized, then they also need to be at the forefront of research." Practitioners, researchers, community members and organizers need to review the data and understa... 

Students & community collaborators create 'Disrespecting the Border' mural

Pitt student Camilo Ruiz (BCHS/Anthropology '20) collaborated with artists Leah Patgorski and Gil Rocha on a community mural-making workshop resulting in a magnificent art piece entitled "Disrespecting the Border."  An artist and teacher from Laredo, Texas, Rocha facilitated a diverse group of nineteen people through the five-day process of creating the mural which aims to" dignify and make visible the Latinx presence in Pittsburgh."  

Upcoming CHE Events

Center for Health Equity Conference

Grand Rounds 400 Years of Inequality: Achieving Redemption, Reconciliation, and Equity Today

Monday 9/23 8:30AM - 4:00PM
William Pitt Union

As this nation marks a full 400 hundred years of inequality since 1619 when the first enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, we invite our community to join with nationally prominent scholars and community activists in a one-day symposium examining this American legacy. How does the racial and social oppression forced upon enslaved Africans and their descendants translate to the racial inequities we see today?

Our quest is to understand not only context, ramifications, causes and outcomes, but also what African Americans —and all Americans—are going to do. What are the remedies, successful interventions, and steps necessary for achieving equity today? 


8:30 a.m.
Breakfast & Convocation

Libation and drum call by The Legacy Arts Project (8:30 a.m.)

Everette James, Interim Dean, Pitt Public Health  (9:00 a.m.)

Paula Davis, Assistant vice chancellor for health sciences diversity, University of Pittsburgh

Kathy Humphrey, Senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the board of trustees, University of Pittsburgh

9:30 a.m.

400 Years of Inequality, Should “America” Pay

Akinyele Umoja
Associate professor and chair, Department of African-American Studies, Georgia State University

10:30 a.m.
Response panel

Jerome Taylor, Associate professor of Africana studies, University of Pittsburgh 
Carl Redwood, Pitt Social Work 
Patricia Rodney, Walter Rodney Foundation

11:30 –12:30 p.m.
Lunch break


12:30 – 1 p.m.

Dance presentation by Legacy Arts Project

1 p.m.

Equity in the Opportunity to Survive the 1st year of Life - A Dream Deferred

Arthur R. James
Associate professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ohio State University

1:45 p.m.
Response panel


Jeannette South-Paul, Andrew W. Mathieson Professor and department chair, Department of Family Medicine, Pitt Medicine (moderator)
Dannai M. Wilson, manager, Maternal and Child Health Program, Allegheny County Public Health
Jada Shirriel, CEO, Healthy Start

2:45 p.m.

The Underdevelopment of Well Being in African American Neighborhoods: Prescriptions for Environmental Social Justice

Jamil Bey, CEO Urban Kind

3:30 p.m.
Response panel

Noble Maseru, professor and associate dean for diversity and inclusion, director, Center forHealth Equity, Pitt Public Health
Fred Brown, President and CEO, The Forbes Funds
Mark Lewis, president and CEO, POISE Foundation

4 p.m.





UmojaJAMIL BEY is the founder and president of the UrbanKind Institute, a think-and-do consultancy committed to providing direction to improve policies, programs, and practices that are kind to urban people and environments; the root of sustainability. Under Bey's leadership and direction, the UrbanKind Institute has become one of the region's premier public policy consultancies. Prized for our ability to do the complicated tasks of bringing people from all sectors and with often competing interests together to create actionable solutions.

A BS, MA, and PhD graduate of Penn State, Jamil is a human geographer with 8 years of post-doctoral research and analysis of policy and practices that improve efficiency and outcomes in human experiences. As a researcher, analyst, and consultant he specializes in challenging common assumptions about ordinary concerns while bringing alternative perspectives for consideration. Trained as both a professional geographer and as an educator, Bey excels in spatial analysis and synthesis, pedagogy, and instruction. His primary focus is on spatial, and location analysis. His integrated-systems view of the world provides highly contextualized conclusions, and recommendations that consider the interconnectivity of economics, politics, history, culture, health, social movements, and the environment in his analyses.

Arthur R. JamesARTHUR R. JAMES is an obstetrician, gynecologist, and pediatrician who has been involved in the care of underserved populations for the entirety of his medical career. In previous practices he has been the medical director of a neighborhood health center (FQHC-site), medical director of Bronson Methodist Hospital's Women's Care Clinic, and founding/medical director of Borgess Medical Center's Women's Health office. For several years he was an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children's Hospital, co-chair of the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, and is a former senior policy advisor to the Ohio Department of Health (2011-2016). He has also been a member of the Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality, a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Healthy Start Association, former board member for the Centering Healthcare Institute, Inc., former executive director of Ohio State's Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and is currently co-chair for the Center for Disease Control and March of Dimes Health Equity workgroup, senior consultant to First Year Cleveland (a Cuyahoga County community-wide effort to decrease the infant mortality rate and eliminate racial disparities in birth outcomes).

UmojaAKINYELE UMOJA is a professor of African-American studies at Georgia State University. Umoja is an alumnus of Compton High School, California State University Los Angeles (BA), and Emory University (MA and PhD). His research and instruction are focused on the history of civil rights and Black power and other Black resistance and social movements. He is the author of the award-winning book We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Freedom Movement (NYU, 2013). Umoja is the co­editor of the Black Power Encyclopedia (2018) and also editor of a 2018 special issue of The Black Scholar on the legacy of revolutionary activist, attorney, and elected official, the Honorable Chokwe Lumumba.

Umoja was the recipient of the NCBS 2013 President's Award for outstanding contribution to the discipline of African-American studies. Umoja is also a human rights and social justice activist. He is a co-founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an organization committed to human rights, self-determination, and reparations of African descendants in the United States and internationally. Umoja was inducted into Selma, Alabama's Hall of Resistance in the Enslavement and Civil War Museum during the city's annual Bridge Crossing and Jubilee Celebration. Other inductees include author Sonia Sanchez, and scholar-activists Asa Hilliard, Maulana Karenga, Ray Winbush, and legendary Hip Hop artist Tupac Shakur. Umoja has also traveled to Spain, Germany, Cuba, Haiti, and Venezuela to speak on forums on reparations, political prisoners and human rights.


Established in 2011, the center seeks to understand and ultimately eliminate health inequities in disadvantaged, vulnerable and underserved populations—particularly those in Western Pennsylvania. It addresses issues attributed to institutional racism; builds strategic partnerships across sectors and communities; acknowledges a Health in All Policies perspective and the public sector’s role in achieving health equity for its’ citizenry.

Organized by the Center for Health Equity, with support from Pitt Public Health's dean's office, and the Office of Health Sciences Diversity. Seating is limited.

Find out more about the American Public Health Association's 400 Years of Inequaility initiative online. 

Last Updated On Thursday, September 19, 2019 by Borkowski, Matthew Gerard
Created On Thursday, September 5, 2019

Conversations about COVID-19
Noble Maseru and Tiffany Gary-Webb join Fred Brown of the Forbes Fund to talk about an equity-related response to COVID-19 in our Friday seminar series.

Register or view recordings of previous sessions at

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