Message from Deanna Kerrigan, Chair of the Department of Prevention and Community Health

July 1, 2020

I am honored to join the George Washington (GW) University today as the Chair of the Department of Prevention and Community Health (PCH) at Milken Institute School of Public Health. 

We are in the midst of a historic moment where efforts to understand and address the social determinants and structural drivers of health inequities could not be more urgent. Intersecting inequalities, stigma, discrimination and violence related to race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, immigration status, age and disability, among other important domains, and their relationship with healthcare access and outcomes are at the forefront of current public discourse and debate. These dynamics are underscored by the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and alarming displays of systemic violence, which continue to demonstrate the unequal burden of morbidity and mortality among people of color and the historic and ongoing public health impact of racism.

We have also seen that through powerful acts of individual and collective reflection and action we can illuminate and challenge these structures of constraint that limit health and human potential. PCH is conducting rigorous theoretically grounded research, employing transformative pedagogies and actively translating its work through practice to address processes of social division and exclusion that perpetuate health inequities. 

As Chair, one of my most critical roles will be to support PCH faculty, staff and students as the department builds on this solid foundation and becomes further recognized as a national and global leader in advancing the role and application of the socio-behavioral sciences and community-driven approaches to promoting health equity. I am committed in the weeks and months ahead to listening and learning from our community and partners and to catalyzing a collaborative and inclusive process, guided by collective dialogue and data review, to create a shared vision and strategy for our department. 

Now more than ever, PCH is well poised to serve as an agent of social change, documenting and dismantling existing power relations and structures in order to restore the right to health and the centrality of human dignity through the cultivation of multisectoral partnerships with community at the center. I look forward to working closely with you all as we jointly strive to strengthen health, wellbeing and social justice.


Deanna Kerrigan