The Iowa Public Health Association (IPHA)welcomed four new elected members to its Board of Directors in January 2021. The new members include Anjali Deshpande, PhD, MPH, clinical associate professor of epidemiology. Deshpande answered a few questions posed by the IPHA, which are shared here.
What do you value about IPHA?
This is a great question. I value that IPHA serves as a “place” that I can learn new things about public health; a “place” where I can talk to colleagues about what is new and changing and challenging about public health; a “place” where I can stay connected with public health practice; and a “place” where I have met “my people” and know that I can bring a unique perspective to the table and contribute to something that has bigger impact than what I can achieve on my own.
Why are you interested in serving on the IPHA Board of Directors?
It has been a pleasure to be a member of IPHA since I moved to Iowa in 2016. I have been able to meet other public health practitioners and make connections throughout the state. I have enjoyed working with Jeneane Moody and Lina Reinders to stand up the education/programming subcommittee. I feel I can make even greater contributions to IPHA by serving on the Board of Directors and working to ensure continued focus on the future of public health in Iowa. Being an epidemiologist and educator with connections within Iowa and with public health organizations around the country, I feel that I have skills and connections that could also be leveraged to expand the work that IPHA does and evaluate the impact of that work.
What does it mean to you to be a leader in health equity?
For me, being a leader in health equity means always challenging my own ideas/knowledge about health equity and creating safe spaces/forums/venues for discussion and teaching others. It also means making sure that I am involved in the processes of the change that I want to see in the organizations that I am affiliated with.
How have you been engaged as an IPHA member to date? Please share any committee, board or other ways you have supported IPHA.
I have served since 2018 as the co-chair for the education/programming committee and I have served on the public health workforce development subcommittee. I have also worked with IPHA to engage MPH students from the UI as members and advocates for IPHA and public health more broadly.
In which sectors do you have experience?
Academia/research, government, and nonprofit cultural/social organization.
Describe any current or previous board service, leadership, or volunteer experience outside of IPHA.
In my role as MPH program director at UI from 2016-2020, I have served in leadership roles on several committees within the College of Public Health as well as committees outside the college at the university level. These include Faculty Senate and Faculty Council, as well as the interdisciplinary steering committee for Interprofessional Education. Also personally, I served in voluntary executive committee roles (including president, vice president, and treasurer) in a non-profit cultural/social organization in St. Louis over a five-year period. Most recently, here in Iowa, I have been serving as a volunteer on the ICCSD’s Music Curriculum Review Committee.
Board terms are three years long. What would you like to see IPHA achieve during your tenure?
IPHA has a fantastic presence in Iowa and a very dedicated, engaged membership. I would like to see us diversify that membership over the next three years to not only include more members of color and other identities, but also to become more diverse in sectors engaged and disciplines of study/professional background. I know that IPHA is starting to look at its own structure and policies/practices around health equity, and I think that this should be a priority over the next years and can serve as a model for other organizations in Iowa.