Washington state selected for national leadership program to build health equity

Release Date: 
Sep 26 2017
DSHS Office of Communications
Chris Wright
(360) 902-8338

OLYMPIA - With an ability to design research to meet urgent community needs—and to directly apply that research to create change—researchers and community leaders are powerful partners for impacting community health needs.

As members of one of only 15 three-person teams selected, Ann Muno (The Justice for Girls Coalition of Washington State), Dr. Sarah Veele (DSHS- Rehabilitation Administration), and Dr. Arina Gertseva (Washington State Center for Court Research) join Interdisciplinary Research Leaders, a leadership development program led by the University of Minnesota with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Washington state team will join a diverse group of researchers and community leaders—directors of nonprofits, psychologists, community organizers, and sociologists—located across the country, to collaborate and innovate to solve persistent health challenges. Together, these fellows will help advance a Culture of Health—one that places well-being at the center of every aspect of life.

Each year, the program chooses two project themes. The Washington state team has chosen to design their project to address youth development approaches to prevent violence and promote health. By focusing on the self-identified unique needs of girls involved in the juvenile justice system, this project will inform community led interventions and resource development. Improved interventions for girls will reduce the rate of unnecessary confinement and will help to support their ongoing success.

Along the way they will develop high-level leadership skills through mentoring, networking, and an advanced leadership curriculum. While participating in the program, they will continue working full-time, applying new knowledge and leadership in their community and field.

“This year’s fellows are addressing significant challenges communities face in achieving better health and health equity. We are excited to see the unique, diverse teams entering this program, and believe this cohort will demonstrate the power of community-engaged interdisciplinary research to solve real-world problems,” says Michael Oakes, PhD, director of Interdisciplinary Research Leaders and professor at the University of Minnesota. “Through this program, fellows will learn the leadership skills necessary to help build a Culture of Health.”

Additional partners providing training and support to fellows include: AcademyHealth, ISAIAH, and Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Interdisciplinary Research Leaders is one of a number of leadership development programs supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). These programs continue RWJF’s legacy of supporting the development and diversity of leaders. Initially focused on health and health care, the programs have been expanded, because the Foundation knows that building a Culture of Health requires all of us in every sector, profession, and discipline to work together. The next application period for many of these programs will open in early 2018. Additional information is available at www.interdisciplinaryresearch-leaders.org.


DSHS does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.