Health Equity Symposia

OHSU staff, students and members of the public welcome

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on health disparities in our society. People in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) communities have gotten sick and died at far higher rates than white people. Yet this is just one example of persistent, systemic inequities caused by institutional racism. They exist in health, education, wealth and the criminal justice system. As the state’s academic health center, OHSU has a duty to address the underlying causes of adverse health outcomes.

Speaking truth to power in resistance to systemic disparities is part of OHSU’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist and multicultural institution. As President Danny Jacobs has said, “Silence and inaction have led our society to where we are today and can no longer be tolerated going forward.”

An online event series will amplify efforts to improve health equity in our state. Health care providers and public health researchers have well-established partnerships with members of BIPOC communities, and are beginning to untangle and reverse disparities.

Join OHSU employees and students as we collectively learn about positive change underway in our neighborhoods.

If you have a disability and need an accommodation to attend or participate in an event, please contact  at least five business days before the event.

Event archive

The first event helped define health equity.

Panelists discussed the financial and economic consequences of health inequity, structural racism and COVID-19, and the importance of culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

Recorded Oct. 28, 2020.

Livestreamed Dec. 2, 2020

Social justice is the bedrock of public health. Students and faculty members in the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health bring this value to the center of what they do. Their work has been essential this year – with the thunderous cry for racial justice and the COVID-19 pandemic being just two areas of response.

Learn how anti-racism and health equity are helping to train tomorrow’s public health activists, and how students are holding the school accountable along the way.


  • Dawn M. Richardson, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
    Associate Dean for Social Justice
    Associate Professor


  • Jonathan Snowden, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor
  • Ryan Petteway, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
    Assistant Professor
  • Kalera Stratton
    Graduate Student
  • Taurica Salmon
    Graduate Student

Livestreamed Jan. 13, 2021

Esther K. Choo, M.D., M.P.H., is a voice for change. Her work on health care’s frontline as professor of emergency medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine gives her a unique perspective on existing health and social disparities, and she uses traditional and social media to be a beacon for improving the system.

Join us to hear about her path to advocacy and how finding one’s voice can contribute to health equity and health care culture transformation. 

Livestreamed Feb. 10, 2021

While all patients are at risk for miscommunication in health care settings, African American, American Indian and Latino/Latina/Latinx patients are twice as likely to experience low baseline health literacy compared to white patients. Lower health literacy makes it more difficult to obtain, understand and use basic health information and services to one's benefit.

Health care professionals can be trained to use clear communication best practices to mitigate the negative effects of low health literacy. Unfortunately, however, health professions education has largely overlooked such training, and most health professionals do not consistently practice clear communication techniques. The failure to train health professionals in clear communication is an important but underrecognized source of systemic racism in health care.

This talk will challenge us to focus on communication training as we strive to become an anti-racist institution.

Cliff Coleman, M.D., M.P.H., is an award-winning teacher of health professionals and associate professor of family medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine.

Lia Sebring, B.S., is the social determinants of health coordinator at OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond.

Livestreamed March 3, 2021

There is no doubt that health care teams are strongest when they work together across professions. The Interprofessional Care Access Network (I-CAN) works with students throughout OHSU to help individuals and families in underserved communities lower health barriers related to social determinants of health.

This panel presentation will bring together faculty from the OHSU School of Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, interprofessional students and community partners from the Rockwood neighborhood in the northwest section of Gresham.

Hear about how they work on behalf of individual clients in the neighborhood, and what they are doing to address health inequities for underserved and BIPOC community members in the era of COVID-19.


  • Katherine Bradley, Ph.D., RN (she/her), I-CAN program director, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, and clinical associate professor, OHSU School of Nursing
  • Erin Lemon, M.N., RN (she/her), I-CAN faculty-in-residence, OHSU School of Nursing

Wallace Medical Concern

  • Christine Sanders (she/hers), CSWA, MSW, housing and health program manager

I-CAN students

  • Liam Directo (they/them), junior nursing student
  • Natalie Disher (she/her), human nutrition master’s student
  • Luisa Paredes Renteria (she/her), junior nursing student
  • Sydney Running (she/her), senior nursing student 
  • Emily Evans (she/her), senior nursing student

Livestreamed April 7, 2021

What began as a pilot study to find early signals of the novel coronavirus in two Portland neighborhoods has blossomed into a model for building trust in science and improving people’s lives.

OHSU, Self Enhancement Inc., Imago Dei Community Eastside church and Prescott Elementary School worked together to demystify COVID-19 and increase access to testing for hard-hit communities and people of color.

Join this symposium to hear about the power of trusted relationships and to learn about what more the teams are planning to improve public health – one community member at a time.

Read about the OHSU study that sparked this collaboration.


  • Mike Dean, campus pastor, Imago Dei Community Eastside
  • Anthony Deloney, director of strategic initiatives, Self Enhancement, Inc.
  • Donna Hansel, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of pathology, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Andrew Miller, Imago Dei Community Eastside
  • Nichole Watson, principal, Prescott Elementary School

Livestreamed May 5, 2021

Native Americans experience increased burdens from preventable illnesses and are disproportionately underrepresented in the health professions. The team at the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence believes the solutions to these challenges exist within Indigenous communities.

Attend to learn about the center’s efforts to inspire Native youth, train tomorrow’s leaders and retain a vibrant Indigenous learning community of healers. Plus, see how digital stories – including a series of COVID-19 public service announcements – are helping fulfill this vision during the pandemic.


  • Erik Brodt, M.D., Anishinaabe – Minnesota Chippewa and director of the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence; associate professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Caitlin Donald, M.S.W., Osage/Ponca and assistant director of the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence

Livestreamed June 2, 2021

Watch recording on YouTube

Transgender and gender-diverse communities have historically faced significant barriers to accessing trauma-informed and gender-affirming care resulting in health and mental health consequences. The OHSU Transgender Health Program and Doernbecher Gender Clinic have endeavored to repair the history of harm, and offer comprehensive care through an interdisciplinary community-engaged model of care available to gender-diverse individuals of all ages.

Attend this dynamic panel presentation to learn how the holistic care offered through the Transgender Health Program offers a valuable and unique approach taking into account the important roles of shared decision-making, education, advocacy, peer support, technology and community engagement to promote health, well-being and equity.


  • Judah Castiel (he/him)
  • Tobin Cox (they/them)
  • Kara Connelly, M.D. (she/her), medical director, Doernbecher Gender Clinic; associate professor of pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Joy Wilson (she/her)

Moderated by:  

  • Jess Guerriero, M.S.W., M.A. (they/them), intake and referral specialist, Transgender Health Program

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