We’re committed to supporting leaders within local health departments to advance health equity and racial justice.

Why We Created Health Equity Awakened

Facing centuries of persistent racial health inequities, local health departments around the country are prioritizing work on the social determinants of health and health equity. As this emerging body of work gains momentum, we’ve committed to supporting leaders within local health departments to develop personal, institutional, and structural level approaches to health equity and racial justice.

In 2014, Human Impact Partners expanded our training and technical assistance efforts to more explicitly focus on advancing these strategies by launching a leadership development initiative now called Health Equity Awakened: A Leadership Institute. Since its inception, HIP has been able to support about 50 Fellows from across the country. (Want to hear about future calls for applications? Sign up here for program emails.)

Advancing equity is not easy within highly structured government institutions — which have, at times, been part of the problem. Health Equity Awakened is about building an intentional learning community that positions emerging leaders to advance a more radical health equity practice.

How the Institute Works

We convene the Health Equity Awakened Institute Fellows three times a year, for in-person trainings and retreats. In between these, we facilitate monthly video meetings to build additional knowledge and skill-sets and to create a space for peer support and mentorship as Fellows move their efforts forward.

In-person convenings focus on:

  • Building relationships and trust among Fellows and between Fellows, mentors, and staff
  • Developing a shared analysis around racial justice, health equity, and power
  • Learning about how to use a transformative organizing approach to advance health equity
  • Sharing experiences and lessons learned around how to advance health equity within your organization
  • Articulating your vision for personal growth and leadership, and exploring and aligning with your sense of purpose

The Institute is co-facilitated by a dynamic group of staff, mentors and faculty who are established leaders in public health, leadership development, racial justice, and community organizing. We deeply appreciate the partnership and funding of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and The California Endowment for this cohort, as well as prior funding partners including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

Watch this reflection from some of our past fellows!


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It is completely life-changing in the way that it makes you reflect and assess who you are as a leader. [For example] It gives you tools on how to comfortably discuss racism. It gives you deep awareness about how you have either been impacted by racism, or how you live out your work because of oppression and racism. And I will tell you I had no idea. I thought I was going to a leadership institute to fix everybody else but instead I am fixing me.

– 2017-2018 Fellow