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Public Health Institute Names Sandra Galvez to Lead Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative

May 23, 2011

The Public Health Institute (PHI) has named Sandra E. Galvez to be director of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), the only regional collaborative of local health departments in the nation that addresses the social and environmental conditions that shape a community's health.

Galvez, tapped for the post from among 24 applicants nationwide, had previously been senior policy associate for BARHII at PHI, where she managed its committees on internal capacity and the built environment. She takes over from Robert Prentice, BARHII's founding director, who retired in early March.

"We were looking for someone who both knows how local health departments function and who is able to contribute to the bigger movement of reaching health equity throughout the Bay Area and the nation," said Edith Cabuslay, BARHII co-chair and San Mateo County Health System's representative to BARHII. "Sandi was the best person for this position and brings a true passion to achieving health equity. She's in this work to make a difference in this world."

Before coming to BARHII, Galvez was the internal capacity building coordinator for the Alameda County Public Health Department, where she worked to instill an emphasis on the social determinants of health and equity into the community practice of public health. She also represented Alameda County on a BARHII committee.She is known for her determination to address variation in health among low-income and ethnic minority people and believes that BARHII enables the region to speak with one strong, credible voice rather than many separate ones.

"On average, across the Bay Area, there is a 10-year life expectancy difference between people living in poor neighborhoods and those living in affluent neighborhoods, with the difference being as much as 14 years between, for example, Bayview/Hunters Point and Russian Hill in San Francisco," Galvez said. "BARHII is a place where we're able to break down the silos that separate work in public health departments and look at the root causes of why there are such big differences in health outcomes."

Created in 2002, BARHII is a collaboration of 10 San Francisco Bay Area counties and one city (Berkeley) working together to transform public health practice to eliminate health inequities. BARHII is recognized as a national leader in this work, and other organizations across the country look to it for technical assistance, expertise, and reports and other materials.

Galvez has been interested most of her life in the intersection of social justice and health. She earned a master's degree in social welfare and a bachelor's in sociology and Native American studies from the University of California at Berkeley.