On July 24th, HRiA co-hosted with the Massachusetts Public Health Association and the Medical Legal Partnership Boston a Public Health Leaders Breakfast Roundtable with Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu. The listening session included public health and organizational leaders around the city representing healthcare, housing, community development, philanthropy, advocacy, and other sectors that play a critical role in improving health among Boston residents. Councilor Wu is a champion in transportation, family leave, and public health; she is the lead sponsor of Boston’s Paid Parental Leave ordinance and Healthcare Equity ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity—both of which passed unanimously.
Topics at the Roundtable event centered on the need to focus on upstream approaches to health, such as the role of housing and financial security on health outcomes. Specific health issues such as violence, tobacco, and substance use were also discussed. In particular, the conversation focused on approaching health through a racial justice and health equity lens and addressing root causes of inequity through systemic changes. Additionally, the group discussed the importance of authentic community engagement and greater power sharing across residents, organizations, and institutions.
Councilor Wu and participants also talked about the importance of organizational and cross-sectoral collaboration and specifically how large employers, philanthropy, and policy makers need to be part of cross-sectoral partnerships, especially as we aim to scale up best practices and successful initiatives. Participants noted that this is critical so that we are pulling on the social and structural levers that can make large-scale impact across multiple systems such as healthcare, housing, workforce, and transportation.