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Working Together to Make Things Better

By: The PFRH IDARE Committee

The Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity, IDARE, was established in July 2020. Led by Joel Boiling, assistant dean, this office will act as a resource to support JHSPH efforts to cultivate a diverse, inclusive, and nurturing environment for students, faculty, and staff. The Office of IDARE identified eight priorities to meet these goals, including establishing a culture of accountability and reviewing and revising all policies, practices, and procedures to ensure IDARE in all we do. Recognizing that no one person or office can tackle this task, PFRH, along with other departments, have created IDARE committees to support the schoolwide strategy and provide guidance in elevating a culture that values and supports diversity, equity, and inclusion within the department. The PFRH IDARE committee is led by Terri Powell, PhD, MA, with staff (Vira David-Rivera), students (Quiana Lewis and Gabriela Marmolejos) and faculty (Charvonne Holliday, PhD, MPH, and Beth Marshall, DrPH, MPH) representatives.

Ready to work, but unsure of where to start, we did what any good researchers would do: we started with the data (i.e., demographic scans, focus group data and survey responses). We learned that student experiences differ vastly based on their relationship with their advisor and interactions with faculty. Students also noted that the lack of transparency about opportunities, operations and decision-making created an environment that was sometimes hard to navigate. We also learned that our staff were rarely asked to contribute to discussions about our department’s functioning and interactions, despite the integral role they play in making our department run smoothly. Most concerning, we learned that members of our community were often scared to speak up or speak out about concerning issues for fear of retaliation. Ultimately, one thing was clear: we all wanted the same things. That is, staff, students and faculty agreed that the PFRH IDARE Committee should focus its efforts in the following four areas: (1) accountability, (2) equitable practices and policies, (3) transparent and supportive relationships, and (4) universal learning and training opportunities.

Audre Lorde said, “Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.” Consistently, progress is underway! We have had several seminars related to IDARE issues as part of our process of becoming better informed of critical issues and developing shared understanding as a community. Specifically, The Gates Institute has hosted a seminar series shedding light on racism within family planning and reproductive health. Other PFRH seminar speakers have discussed topics such as embedding equity in research and evaluation, transforming urban poverty into promise, and the health impacts of police stops among vulnerable youth. Future efforts of the PFRH IDARE Committee include examining and providing guidance on departmental practices and policies, providing resources to enhance PFRH curricula, and establishing opportunities for honest communications regarding IDARE issues and topics. We will be sure to also have a system to track, monitor and share our progress.

Have thoughts about helping move our department to a more inclusive, diverse, anti-racist and equitable place where can all learn, thrive and feel heard, valued and respected? We would love to hear from you! Please email us at IDARE-pfrh@jhu.edu with questions, comments, and concerns.


PFRH IDARE Committee Members (from Left to Right): Vira David-Rivera, Dr. Charvonne Holliday, Quiana Lewis, Gabriela Marmolejos, Dr. Beth Marshall and Dr. Terri Powell