In April, La Follette students gathered in person and virtually to discuss pressing health equity issues with La Follette School alum Shireen Ohadi-hamadani (MPA ’20) in the school’s latest Elevating Equity in Policymaking event. Ohadi-hamadani is the communications strategist for the Office of Health Equity located within the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) where she leads the development of the department’s strategic communications with the goal of advancing health equity, diversity, and inclusion—both within the culture and practices of DHS and for the agency’s externally-facing work.
After sharing briefly about her career path, Ohadi-hamadani, Carte’cia Lawrence (MPA ’22) and Gabriel Terrell, current MPA student and LSSA DEI coordinator, led the students through a case study simulation to put their health equity knowledge to the test. In small groups, students were asked to build a communications plan for an organization like DHS that would advance equity – discussing topics such as which stakeholders should be included to develop a plan, how to ensure the information is received by the communities who need it most, and what barriers one might encounter while executing a plan. The students then reconvened to share their proposed plans with the large group.
The Elevating Equity in Policymaking event series began in the summer of 2020 in response to a request from students to learn from community leaders developing and implementing equitable policies and programs. The April event was the first hybrid event in the series. Past Elevating Equity guests include La Follette alumni Theola Carter (MA ’91), Frances Huntley-Cooper (MPA ’94), and Lamont Smith (MPA ’07) as well as Dr. Temitayo Oyegbile-Chidi (MD, PhD ’05).
The series will continue in fall 2022.