Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A letter of invitation to Join Academy for Health Equity

A letter of invitation from Dr. Ilana Mittman,
Kellogg Fellows in Health Policy Research Program alumna

Dear Colleagues: Do any of you feel that you are tired of reading, hearing and conversing about health disparities? That you know that these are indisputable and that the time has come to DO something about them? Well, I do. I have just had a life changing experience.

I have been to the inaugural meeting of the Academy of Health Equity in Denver Colorado. There, in the Mile High city I realized that I was witnessing a historic moment. More than two hundred and fifty health equity advocates from around the country gathered almost on a moment 's notice to be part of moving the health disparity elimination agenda forward.

The meeting started with ceremonial multicultural drums representing rituals of indigenous groups of the four corners of our great nation. The ceremony ended with all drumming to same beat.


My heart was pounding and my eyes tearing up as I was reminded again, that we are all part of humanity and that on this planet we are tightly connected. This unique meeting was phenomenal given the short time of planning. The orchestrators of the Academy are health equity advocates who felt that health disparity elimination efforts have yielded limited results and that it is time to bring together all stakeholders and the enormous data in existence to create an-going forum.

The palpable change in the political climate in the nation (yes, change we can believe in) made Academy members realize that the time is now. In a nutshell, the sentiment of the Academy (if I understand it correctly) is that if we focus our collective resources we will create a momentum that can reach further than any disjointed efforts to foster sweeping changes around the nation in assuring health equity to all Americans.

While in Denver meeting participants were invited to join the Academy as Founding Members. I must say that after I heard Dr. La Veist and Dr. Thomas speak, I charged out the room asking "how do I join?" One other participant (a daughter of a civil rights activist) echoed my sentiments when she said "I have been waiting for something like this all my life." Meeting participants recommended that the invitation to join as founding members expands to persons who were not there.

Founding members will communicate via Listservs on forming and joining workgroups and shaping the vision and mission of this fellowship. My colleagues, I feel that our collective voices, drive, creativity and passion to make a difference should be added to this unprecedented initiative.

I urge you all to join. And I believe that the time is now!


Ilana S Mittman, PhD
Kellogg Health Disparity Scholar

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