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LPHI and Healthy Blue Announce First Racial and Health Equity Learning Lab Cohort

(June 21, 2021) – The Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and Healthy Blue are continuing their commitment to address the health and racial inequities that continue to impact the social wellbeing, health, and health outcomes of our communities throughout Louisiana. The commitment began with the inaugural Symposium on Racial and Health Equity in Louisiana, held in March 2021, and continues today with the announcement of the first cohort for the Racial and Health Equity Learning Lab. A video, designed to give viewers a sense of the spirit and purpose of the partnership, Symposium, and outcomes, was just released and is available at

“We are thrilled with the amount of interest in both the Symposium and Racial and Health Equity Learning Lab,” said LPHI CEO Shelina Davis. “Racism is a public health crisis and declaring it as such allows us to educate community members and public health professionals on its decades-long impact on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and begin to address it here in Louisiana.”

The goal of the Racial and Health Equity Learning Lab is to increase the state’s capacity to address systemic barriers and social inequities that impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s (BIPOC) opportunity to attain their full health potential. LPHI, with support from Healthy Blue, is partnering with the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) to conduct its ADJUST (Advancing Justice Together) Workshop as part of the Learning Lab training curriculum. The Learning Lab is an opportunity to develop the expertise needed to succeed in today’s challenge of achieving health equity in Louisiana and will create a network of leaders across the state who are willing and able to guide the next generation of community and public health leaders into the future.

“By acknowledging systemic barriers caused by racism, increasing technical knowledge within the health field, and training additional community and public health leaders, we can create a stronger public health community that will achieve better health outcomes for Louisianans,” said Dr. Christy Valentine, Healthy Blue Plan President. “Healthy Blue remains focused and committed to addressing racial and health equity through our partnership with LPHI on the Learning Lab and the Racial and Health Equity Symposium.”

At the completion of the Learning Lab, the 30 participants will have increased their knowledge of core racial equity concepts and developed action plans for local application of the training curriculum. Participants will also be better equipped with understanding, compassion, and capacity for action around issues of equity and fairness in the public health field and our communities.

The members of the first cohort are:

Nick Albares
Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana
Mary Alexander
Lighthouse Louisiana
Jamaka Batchelor
Healthy Blue
Sashika Baunchand
Outstanding Mature Girlz Organization
Kia Bickham
E Pluribus Unum
Krishann Burd
PACE of Greater New Orleans
Blythe Craft
Ochsner Health
Jamie Cyprian
Louisiana Public Health Institute
Jeanie Donovan
New Orleans Health Department
Felicia Downs
Felicia Downs LCSW, LLC
Erica Dudas
New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation
Julie Este-McDonald
Salt and Light Collaborative, Inc.
Christina Illarmo
Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies
Dr. Kathy Jackson, LPC
Stephanie Kennedy
Louisiana Public Health Institute
Karen Kosinski
Healthy Blue
Tiffany Lewis
Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center
Veronica Magee-Jackson
Brotherhood, Incorporated
Kimberlee Mix
New Orleans BioInnovation Center
Tabitha Nicholas
Dieticians in Home
Emily Nykaza
Michelle Ozah
Louisiana Public Health Institute
Miriam Perez Cordova
Southeast Louisiana Area Health Education Center
Terri Ricks
Department of Children and Family Services
Roderic Teamer
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana
Lisa VanHoose
University of Louisiana Monroe
Brandon Vincent
Graduating Senior at Loyola University
Lacey Wilson
LDH – Bureau of Family Health

The Symposium, held in March 2021, brought together more than 550 individuals and organizations from across Louisiana and beyond to address systemic inequities and build relationships to achieve racial and health equity. The event explored how systemic racism has impacted public health efforts for generations and LPHI officially declared Racism a public health crisis. Symposium speakers and panelists answered participant questions and discussed topics including the impact of poverty on community health; the intersection of mental health, the education system, and mass incarceration; and how the health care industry can address race-based disparities and access to quality health care.

These collective efforts by LPHI and Healthy Blue will culminate at the Second Annual Racial and Health Equity Symposium in April 2022.