As I look back on my three years as CEO of ChangeLab Solutions, I am immensely proud of the team that drives our organization, supporting dozens of cities and counties in implementing policies that move the needle on health equity. Our country faces a continuing escalation of pressing domestic issues — from systemic racism to the suppression of voting rights to the rollback of reproductive rights — all of which undermine public health and our collective sense of well-being. Through these challenges, I am honored to stand with the professionals at ChangeLab Solutions as well as our partners — who continue to show strength and resilience as we work to protect public health amid a roiling policy landscape.
At times over the past three years, I have felt fatigued, furious, and even fearful about the violence, polarization, and regression of policies and decisions that have occurred. Many of the rights and protections that our predecessors fought for have been upended, exacerbating the health risks that individuals and communities face.
Yet I remain hopeful, because as a student of social justice movements and as a lawyer and advocate for over two decades, I know that creating systemic change is a journey, one that started before I was born and will continue long after I am gone. I know that in my lifetime, I have the power to use my privilege, experiences, and perspectives to move us closer to justice, even on the days when I feel that as a nation, we have taken steps backward.
I know that in my lifetime, I have the power to use my privilege, experiences, and perspectives to move us closer to justice, even on the days when I feel that as a nation, we have taken steps backward.
I am heartened to remember that as advocates, policymakers, funders, and partners, we are on a journey together — a journey that extends beyond the beginning and the end of our formal engagements. Together, we form a network of changemakers who are embracing complexity and showing up to take on incredibly challenging issues of power, policy, and practice. Today, I celebrate our progress, our connection, our learning, and our next steps with each other.
Sarah de Guia
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about my journey in this field and our work at ChangeLab Solutions, take a look at these interviews and articles: Dr. Daniel S. Blumenthal 2022 Award and Lecture on Health Equity; Contagious Conversations Podcast: Policies and Laws for the Health for All; and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health Blog: Strengthening Public Health Authority Is Critical to a Healthy, Equitable Future.