Marice Ashe on Embracing Fearless Learning

Marice Ashe on Embracing Fearless Learning

September 4, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control’s Public Health Law News (PHLN) recently sat down with our founder and CEO Marice Ashe to discuss ChangeLab Solutions’ public health legacy and our strong focus on health equity. Here are some highlights from the interview: 

How does ChangeLab Solutions stand out in the field of public health law?

We stand out in at least two different ways. First, we are multidisciplinary. Our team consists of attorneys, public health professionals, land use planners, transportation and housing specialists, economic development leaders, educators, architects, public administrators, researchers, and policy wonks of all sorts. We aim to reflect professional specialties that mirror those of local government agencies. Second, we draft model laws, policies, and related resources that address the social determinants of health and health equity. Our goal is to seed the field with examples of public policies that will move the needle on health outcomes, with a focus on increasing equity.

What spurred ChangeLab Solutions’ implementation of the equity-first model?

Because our fundamental commitment is to use the tools of law and policy to improve community health, we recognize that we have to learn how to use those very tools to confront and dismantle both the historic and the current use of law and policy to institutionalize racism and concentrate and maintain poverty. We’ll never improve community health until such tools are in place and creating positive changes in communities across the nation.

What advice would you give to others hoping to apply an equity-first lens to their organization and research?

Embrace fearless learning. I say this to my staff all of the time. If we are satisfied with the status quo, we won’t have impact. We have to be willing to move into undefined and sometimes scary places to make real change.

Read the full interview.

ChangeLab Solutions has long partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve public health in communities across the United States. As part of our cooperative agreement with CDC and in partnership with CDC’s Public Health Law Program, we launched the Public Health Law Academy, which creates online trainings in public health law for public health professionals and students. In other work with the CDC, we’ve developed policy resources on a range of topics, including workplace wellness, healthy retail, healthy planning, tobacco control, and unregulated drinking water. Through this partnership, we have reached 50,000 public health practitioners.