“Never Forget the Impact You Can have on a Person’s Life”– Dominique Dawes

Yesterday, I had the distinct honor of attending the inaugural Division of Public Health’s (DPH)
‘Advancing Healthy Lifestyles Conference: Improving Health Through Equity.
Emily Kauffman, my UWDE colleague and Equity Counts Data Center (ECDC) lead and I presented Delaware

Racial Justice Collaborative (DRJC) and ECDC to attendees during the panel addressing systemic bias in health care. We were joined by Dr. Gwen Angalet, Colonel Debbie Harrington, Melanie Daniels and Rita Landgraf to share the ways in which we are utilizing data to uncover and address health equity issues related to Black girls, veterans and disenfranchised communities in Delaware. We agreed on the urgent need for all in Delaware to prioritize health, lock arms and work together to bring about a more equitable state.

Following that discussion, we heard the impactful keynote address by Dominique Dawes, the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics. After retiring from the sport to which she had dedicated much of her life, she had to transition to a new phase outside of competition. She found her passion in public speaking and connecting with people. She implored us to, “never forget the impact you can make on a person’s life.”

During the daylong discussions about improving health through equity, I was consistently directed back to our fight for racial justice and health equity workstream. The DRJC’s Health Equity committee comprises providers, health professionals, advocates, and other interested parties. We meet monthly to discuss the many factors contributing to inequities in health care, including access to medical care, the social determinants of health and the structural features of the health system in Delaware. We also actively use our advocacy voice. During the Delaware General Assembly’s session, members of public commented in support of health-related legislation and funding issues. One bill we are currently supporting is House Bill 80, which will require doula services including three prenatal visits to be covered by Medicaid.

The health equity committee also helps support the Equity Counts Data Center (ECDC). It is a tool to view data through an equity lens created by a partnership between the DRJC, DPH, and Green River. Located on DPH’s “My Healthy Community” platform, ECDC displays data across Delaware by Zip-code, race, ethnicity and age, based on the DRJC-inspired “equity pillars” of health, criminal justice, wealth creation, and education. During the health equity conference, Emily and I shared how people and organizations can power up their work at the intersections of racial justice, equity and data as Ms. Dawes challenged us to never forget about the impact we can make on a person’s life.

Every day, we take steps toward progress and are grateful for wide-ranging community support. However, the work is far from complete. There is space available in the health equity and other DRJC workstreams to advance the fight. It requires one to steel their spine and make tough choices. And yes, its worth it. If you’re not already a member, I urge you to join us. Visit uwde.org/drjc to learn more and join the movement!


Raina Allen - Director, Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative

Raina Allen
Director, Delaware Racial Justice Collaborative