July 2, 2021
Dear SPH Community,
I am writing to follow up on my recent announcements regarding Caroline Kuo and Jai-Me Potter-Rutledge transitioning to new roles at the School. Let me start by again thanking the two of them for their incredible service as they built our Diversity and Inclusion Office from the ground up. They are owed an enormous amount of gratitude, and we are so fortunate that they will remain part of our community and dedicated to the office's success. As a reminder, Caroline will serve as Senior Advisor to the Dean for Diversity and Inclusion over the next year. While Jai-Me’s new position as the Director of the Health Equity Scholars Program will work in collaboration with the activities of the Diversity and Inclusion Office, it is a full-time role, and we will soon be looking for someone permanent to help us reimagine and manage her previous portfolio. We have also already begun the process of finding an interim successor.
I am thrilled to share that Ron Aubert has agreed to be the Interim Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. I am also pleased to share that Valerie White has enthusiastically agreed to spend a significant portion of her time in the D&I office over the next year.
While it will be challenging to replace these two roles at the same time, I am very optimistic that we have a unique opportunity to reimagine the Diversity and Inclusion Office to further enhance its capacity and amplify the reach and impact of our School’s work to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity in public health. To achieve that, we have hired a consultant to both capture the lessons that can be gleaned from the enormous growth and progress made during the first four years of this office, and to help us thoughtfully increase our strategic investment in the future of the office to align with the growth of our School. Over the next year, we will take a data-centered approach to restructure the office and invest even more resources to build on the strong foundation that has already been established.
My team and I are asking the entire SPH community to support us in a few different ways. First, we’d be grateful if you participate in conversations and inquiries from the consultants and be open with us about your ideas to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School. Based on the feedback and suggestions of the consultants, we will restructure the office to make it even more impactful. This will be a transition year, and during this year, we will ensure mission-critical needs are still met. If you find areas where we are not offering enough support or engagement, please let us know.
Diversity and inclusion remains central to our mission. I want to reiterate that we will be investing additional resources to maximize the impact of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion over the next year, ensure a seamless transition to the next leadership team, and commit more than ever to our School’s work to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity. I look forward to working with all of you to support those efforts and expand on the fabulous accomplishments of Caroline and Jai-Me done in partnership with so many of you in our community.
Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health
Professor of Health Services, Policy & Practice