October 8, 2018

Back in April, we launched our Building Healthy Equitable Communities Series, which explores the elements of a healthy, just community through blog posts, webinars, and interactive expert panels. Since then, we’ve used this virtual space to host 4 more episodes, offering practical strategies for improving health equity. These episodes covered healthy children and familiesfood systemsthe built environment, and schools.
October heralds the finale of this successful series! To celebrate, we’re hosting two final series installments. The first will be a bonus training on preemption and how it can impede or promote health equity. The sixth and final series episode will focus on promoting health equity through community-driven law and policy solutions. Explore all the series episodes.

October 7, 2018

Looking for innovative approaches to community collaboration and policy implementation?

ChangeLab Solutions’ Medium site publishes original content from the many public health policy experts on our staff. Topics range from policy 101 to harmful local laws to a public health evaluation of the family separation crisis. Our goal is to share stories that provide a clear window into the important work we do, as well as inspire cross-sector discussions on how policy-based solutions can promote health equity. Join the conversation today!
Be sure to subscribe to our news updates and support our work!

September 4, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control’s Public Health Law News (PHLN) recently sat down with our founder and CEO Marice Ashe to discuss ChangeLab Solutions’ public health legacy and our strong focus on health equity. Here are some highlights from the interview: 

How does ChangeLab Solutions stand out in the field of public health law?

We stand out in at least two different ways. First, we are multidisciplinary. Our team consists of attorneys, public health professionals, land use planners, transportation and housing specialists, economic development leaders, educators, architects, public administrators, researchers, and policy wonks of all sorts. We aim to reflect professional specialties that mirror those of local government agencies. Second, we draft model laws, policies, and related resources that address the social determinants of health and health equity. Our goal is to seed the field with examples of public policies that will move the needle on health outcomes, with a focus on increasing equity.

What spurred ChangeLab Solutions’ implementation of the equity-first model?

Because our fundamental commitment is to use the tools of law and policy to improve community health, we recognize that we have to learn how to use those very tools to confront and dismantle both the historic and the current use of law and policy to institutionalize racism and concentrate and maintain poverty. We’ll never improve community health until such tools are in place and creating positive changes in communities across the nation.

What advice would you give to others hoping to apply an equity-first lens to their organization and research?

Embrace fearless learning. I say this to my staff all of the time. If we are satisfied with the status quo, we won’t have impact. We have to be willing to move into undefined and sometimes scary places to make real change.

Read the full interview.

ChangeLab Solutions has long partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve public health in communities across the United States. As part of our cooperative agreement with CDC and in partnership with CDC’s Public Health Law Program, we launched the Public Health Law Academy, which creates online trainings in public health law for public health professionals and students. In other work with the CDC, we’ve developed policy resources on a range of topics, including workplace wellness, healthy retail, healthy planning, tobacco control, and unregulated drinking water. Through this partnership, we have reached 50,000 public health practitioners.

February 6, 2018

Last fall, California's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) issued new guidelines for general plans, the documents created by the state's cities and counties to guide their future development. For the first time, the OPR guidelines include specific recommendations for how local general plans could address health, equitable development, and public engagement.

ChangeLab Solutions, with many statewide partner organizations, helped drive this innovation by submitting a detailed set of comments on a draft version of the OPR guidelines. We recommended, for example, that the guidelines be amended to better reflect the perspectives and needs of California's communities of color. Over two-thirds of the changes suggested by ChangeLab Solutions and its partners were incorporated into the final guidelines.

California law requires every city and county to periodically update its general plan, which always includes mandatory elements like housing, transportation, and land use. Recently, some jurisdictions have also begun considering community health and equity in their plans, and more localities are likely to incorporate these optional elements in the future. OPR's 2017 guidelines now provide California communities with free resources on best practices, data sources, model language, and case studies focused on community health, equity, climate change and resilience, and community engagement.

Publication of the new general plan guidelines is a momentous step for healthy, equitable planning in California. ChangeLab Solutions will be assisting with outreach related to the rollout of the new guidelines around the state as part of our continued work in healthy planning (such as our toolkit on creating and implementing healthy general plans). We also hope that other states will look to California and the OPR guidelines as a model for how to collaboratively advance health and equity in planning.

February 5, 2018

From our inception, ChangeLab Solutions has been at the forefront of tobacco control initiatives. Our tobacco control team works to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke, restrict the sale and use of commercial tobacco, and eliminate tobacco-related health disparities in low-income communities and communities of color. An emerging focus of the team’s work is understanding the interplay between state and local laws that affect cannabis and tobacco products. The tobacco control team is dedicated to working with neighborhoods, cities, and states to transform communities through laws and policies that create lasting change and advance health equity. 

Pratima Musburger directs ChangeLab Solutions’ tobacco control portfolio. As senior staff attorney and program director at ChangeLab Solutions, Pratima focuses on the tobacco retail environment, especially tobacco retailer licensing.
Maya Hazarika Watts works on law and policy at the intersection of tobacco control, health equity, and healthy, sustainable communities. Maya's focus areas as a senior staff attorney include policies to reduce secondhand smoke exposure; equity in tobacco control; and emerging issues related to cannabis.
Derek Carr specializes in policies to reduce access to tobacco products, regulate tobacco sales, and modify the tobacco retail environment. As a staff attorney, Derek helps lead ChangeLab Solutions’ work to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products, require tobacco retail licensing, raise the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco to 21, and eliminate discriminatory pricing practices.
Melissa Peters, in her role as policy analyst, leads the tobacco team’s research and evaluation efforts and provides expertise in framing public health issues. Through her work in creating healthy retail environments, Melissa collaborates with public health partners not only in tobacco control but also in alcohol prevention and healthy food.
Jessica Breslin, the newest member of our tobacco team, focuses on secondhand smoke and issues related to the tobacco retail environment. Jessica joins ChangeLab Solutions as a staff attorney after 6 years with Bay Area Legal Aid’s Youth Justice Unit.

ChangeLab Solutions is funded to provide technical assistance to communities across California on legal and policy issues related to tobacco control. To learn more about implementing tobacco control policies or to request technical assistance, contact us. Support our work to create healthier, more equitable communities.