Track 4 - Health Equity

Sharing Session - 60 Minutes

C5 - Striving for Health Equity: Lessons from the Field

Wednesday, July 11
10:15 AM - 11:15 AM
Location: Balcony M

Local health departments share a common goal to identify social determinants that lead to health inequities in their communities and establish policies that promote healthy living for their entire population. To achieve this goal, health departments must develop an approach that fosters agency-wide understanding and commitment toward achieving health equity, and engages key external partners and stakeholders to address upstream determinants of health. The North Carolina Institute for Public Health is serving as the National Program Office for the Emerging Leaders in Public Health (ELPH) initiative, sponsored by The Kresge Foundation. A panel of three health departments will describe the work they are doing to promote health equity in their communities through their participation in the ELPH initiative. Each representative will outline their department’s unique approach to implementing a health equity lens with internal staff and external partners, and share the successes, challenges, and opportunities they have experienced in the process.


Health Equity, Social Determinants of Health, Health in All Policies (HiAP)

Monica Valdes-Lupi, JD, MPH

Executive Director
Boston Public Health Commission

Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH, serves as the Executive Director for the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) which is the city’s health department. In this role, she serves as the key advisor to Mayor Walsh on health issues and continues to build innovative partnerships across city agencies to leverage strategic opportunities for housing, economic development, transportation, education and environmental policies to positively impact the health of all Boston residents.

Among other public health priorities, she is committed to preventing and treating substance abuse, strengthening the city's partnerships with healthcare organizations to improve population health, and advancing health equity for all Bostonians. In addition to operating a broad range of public health programs, the BPHC includes Boston Emergency Medical Services, school-based health centers, several substance abuse treatment facilities, and the largest homeless services program in New England.

Prior to joining BPHC, Ms. Valdes Lupi served as the Chief Program Officer for the Health Systems Transformation team at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) where she led initiatives in the following programmatic areas: health equity, public health integration with primary care, Medicaid/Public Health Partnerships, public health informatics, and state health policy.

Ms. Valdes Lupi also served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) before joining ASTHO. She led the day-to-day operations which included four public health hospitals, several regulatory bodies, and numerous programmatic divisions that addressed chronic and infectious disease, substance abuse services, environmental health, tobacco control, maternal, child and adolescent health, and emergency preparedness.

Ms. Valdes Lupi also previously served as the Chief of Staff at the Boston Public Health Commission where she worked for more than six years. She managed the city's first campaign to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities and oversaw the distribution of nearly $2 million in grants aimed at improving the health for Boston's most vulnerable residents.

She received her JD from the Dickinson School of Law, her MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health, and her BA from Bryn Mawr College. She and her husband live in Boston with their two children.


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Torney Smith, MHE

Spokane Regional Health District

Torney Smith is the administrator for the Spokane Regional Health District in Spokane, Washington, a PHAB accredited health district. Spokane's health district is a 240 person, $30 million annual budget agency serving an urban and rural county of 495,000 in eastern Washington State.

Torney is a graduate of the 2004 Public Health Leadership Institute in Chapel Hill. Torney is a member of Washington State University’s Health Policy Analysis Program Advisory, served on the PHAB standards workgroup, as a BETA site reviewer and PHAB reviewer for accreditation. He is a member of NACCHO’s Transformation Workgroup and past member of their Board of Directors. He has co-chaired the Washington state Standards Workgroup for the public health system for thirteen years and participates on national public health accreditation and quality improvement efforts. He is the current co-chair of the Washington State Health Improvement Plan.

He has been active with the Public Health Informatics Institute, the Northwest Institute for Public Health Practice, the Management Academy for Public Health, the medical Informatics Committee of the Spokane Medical Society and Common Ground.

Prior to his twenty seven years at the health district Torney worked in managed care for Group Health’s Center for Health Promotion.


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Patricia Boswell, MS, MPH

Health Officer
Florida Department of Health in Volusia County

Patricia Boswell MS MPH Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County
Patricia was appointed as administrator of the Department of Health in Volusia County in March 2016. In this role, she serves as the Health Officer of the County building a base to improve health by emphasizing collaborative engagement and collective impact, continuing to strengthen vibrant, structured, cross-sector partnerships.
Prior to assuming leadership in Volusia County, she served as the assistant county health department director in Pinellas County. Over her 15-year career in Pinellas County, Patricia also was director of clinical services and community health promotion. She began her career with the Florida Department of Health in 2001 as the program manager for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program in Pinellas County. In 2004, she became director of the Office of Chronic Disease Prevention.
Patricia serves on several boards in Volusia County. They include the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler & Volusia, Healthy Start Coalition, Medical Advisory Board – Volusia, and One Voice for Volusia. She also serves on the Child Abuse Death Review Statewide Committee, Florida Council on Homelessness and Florida Injury and Violence Prevention Advisory Council.
Patricia has earned a master’s of science in urban and policy sciences from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and a master’s of public health from the University of South Florida. She also a participant of the Kresge Foundation Emerging Leaders in Public Health Program, a graduate of the National Public Health Leadership Institute and a graduate of the Public Health Leadership Institute of Florida.
Ms. Boswell began her public health profession in 1985 at the Suffolk County (New York) Health Department. She also worked as Legislative Analyst for the Suffolk County Office of Legislative Budget from 1986 to 1993.


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Stephen N. Orton, MA, PhD

Senior Investigator
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health/ NC Institute of Public Health

Stephen Orton is an expert in helping organizations develop leaders and create organizational change in public health and healthcare. Areas of Expertise include
• Leadership development
• Organizational change in public health
• Business planning for public health
Steve leads the Change Management Core for the HRSA-funded National Maternal and Child Health Workforce Development Center ( He facilitates strategic planning and teaches on leadership and management for local health organizations, focusing on North Carolina. He directs two healthcare leadership programs in the state. He also co-leads the National Program Office of Kresge Foundation’s Emerging Leaders in Public Health program, a flagship leadership development grant directed at local public health officers.
Steve has designed, managed and taught in national programs including the Management Academy for Public Health (MAPH), a program that helped over 1000 participants write public health business plans since 1999, and the National Public Health Leadership Institute. Steve has done strategy, business planning, leadership and management development work in many organizations and at many different levels. His clients include Novant Health and New Hanover Regional Medical Center; ASTHO and NACCHO; state agencies in Alabama, Texas, New York and Washington; and scores of local health departments from Miami to New York to Tacoma to Los Angeles and many points in between.
Steve is the lead author of Business Planning in Public Health: A Practical Guide (2008) and has published on a number of leadership development programs in healthcare and public health.


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C5 - Striving for Health Equity: Lessons from the Field

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