Our Mission

The Health Behavior Equity Task Force’s mission is to create an inclusive environment for all students, staff, and faculty affiliated with the Health Behavior Department. We work toward promoting an anti-racist culture in the Department through our research, teaching, mentoring, and practice. Below are examples of what we do to achieve this mission:

We advocate for systems and policies to promote anti-racism and inclusion throughout Health Behavior, Gillings, and UNC. Our advocacy prioritizes elevating student voices and concerns For example, we have conducted listening sessions with students and collaborated with Office of Student Affairs and Gillings Inclusive Excellence on the Student Feedback and Equity Concerns system. The system provides a mechanism for students to share information and receive support and reconciliation around bias-related incidents occurring on campus. We engage our faculty, colleagues, and other groups within the UNC system to join us in work to support our mission.

We collaborate on and guide processes for creating and sharing resources designed to promote anti-racism and inclusion at UNC. Examples include recommendations for improving the quality and transparency of mentoring for Gillings students, an anti-racist planning guide for public health pedagogy, and a peer-reviewed paper outlining a process for equity-related action planning.

We represent the Health Behavior Department in school- and university-wide efforts to promote inclusive excellence at UNC. We work to break down siloes and build connections across other groups doing equity-focused work. We represent Health Behavior at monthly meetings with Gillings Inclusive Excellence and other departmental committees. Some of our members also serve on the Student Mentoring Implementation Working Group at Gillings. We attend events and faculty/staff meetings focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and provide information and updates back to the Health Behavior Department.

Current Members

The current members of the Task Force, listed in alphabetical order:

Eliana Armora Langoni

Eliana Armora Langoni

Kennedy Bridges

Kennedy Bridges

Marissa Hall headshot

Dr. Marissa Hall, Chair

Raimah Hossain

Raimah Hossain

Dr. Alexandra Lightfoot

Dr. Alexandra Lightfoot

Dr. Patsy Polston

Dr. Patsy Polston

You can always send questions or comments to the entire Task Force by contacting hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu.

Equity Action and Accountability Plan

The revised version (PDF) of the Equity Action and Accountability Plan (EAAP) is now available.

The EAAP was initially conceptualized to be a response to the Equity Collective’s report, completed in November 2019 and distributed to the department in January 2020, in which Equity Collective members documented the experiences of students of color in the department, titled, Documenting the racialized experiences of Health Behavior graduate students. Within the EAAP itself, we briefly document a recent history of events since that report, including student response to the Equity Collective report in February 2020, the formation of the Equity Task Force shortly thereafter, and the organized action conducted by MPH students in March 2020 that requested increased anti-racist action by department faculty. This is included because context for the EAAP’s creation is important, and because the first step in accountability is transparency. We acknowledge the critical contributions Health Behavior students have made over the last several years, and decades before.
Read more/less.

To complement the student-generated reports, the Equity Task Force spent the summer and fall in 2020 soliciting input from department stakeholders to incorporate diverse perspectives in the initial draft of the EAAP. We facilitated multiple listening and feedback sessions with students and student representatives (inclusive of the three MPH concentrations and PhD program administered by Health Behavior). We provided regular updates to faculty during monthly meetings and facilitated a separate meeting for more in-depth updates and discussion about our work. We also had a meeting with departmental administrative and research staff to present and receive feedback on a working draft of recommendations. The meetings with staff focused particularly on identifying elements missing from the recommendations that spoke to their experiences in the department. A combination of feedback from these groups, the findings of and recommendations within the Equity Collective Report, work done by Deanie Anyangwe (a Health Behavior student with the Equity Task Force in fulfillment of the MPH practicum requirement), consultation with others across Gillings and UNC, external resources and trainings, and the Task Force’s own lived experiences within Health Behavior, are what informed the first draft of the EAAP (PDF) that was circulated in October 2020. We held feedback sessions with department stakeholders, including an additional meeting for people of color across Health Behavior regardless of their role in the department. These meetings were primarily focused on soliciting thoughts around content, prioritization, and implementation of actions steps. This April 2021 version iterates on comments we received in those stakeholder meetings, as well as feedback received via anonymous survey.

Starting this summer, faculty will participate in “Equity Action Teams,” dedicated groups designed around a variety of short-term (approximately one year) projects to begin implementing the EAAP in earnest. The department chair has communicated an expectation that faculty participate in helping to realize the EAAP, and faculty have expressed a desire to get involved and make positive changes across the department. We plan for there to be meaningful engagement with students and staff after these teams are formed, but we recognize faculty have relative privilege and therefore a distinct responsibility to step up in this moment. To fulfill our promise of transparency and accountability, the Equity Task Force will be responsible for tracking and reporting progress of the various Equity Action Teams throughout the year.


Paper published by Equity Task Force members titled “Institutional Reform to Promote Antiracism: A Tool for Developing an Organizational Equity Action and Accountability Plan” (PDF).

Fall 2022 Progress Update on the Health Behavior Equity Action and Accountability Plan

Anti-Racist Planning Guide for Public Health Pedagogy, August 2021 (PDF)

Background and Methods for Mentorship of BIPOC Students, 2021 (PDF)

Equity in Mentorship Presentation, July 2021 (PPT)

Equitable Mentorship within Health Behavior Report, July 2021 (PDF)

The Equity Action and Accountability Plan, April 2021 (PDF)

The Equity Action and Accountability Plan, October 2020 (PDF)

Health Behavior Faculty Retreat: Equity in Teaching Slides, December 2020 (PDF)

The Past and Present of Equity at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health: An analysis of the current Gillings Timeline and next steps, Fall 2020, HBEH 720 White Paper (PDF)

Tip Sheet for Mentorship of BIPOC Students, 2021 (PDF)

Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion During Service Work (PDF)

E-mail archive

Read update from Monday, April 19, 2021.

Dear Health Behavior Community:

The Health Behavior Equity Task Force would first like to thank everyone for their continued engagement in anti-racist actions over the course of this academic year. And we appreciate those who provided feedback on the October 2020 draft of the Health Behavior Equity Action and Accountability Plan (EAAP). We have spent the last several months going through that feedback to revise the plan.

The revised plan is attached, and while it still has six primary strategies, we have slightly shifted the focus for some, and updated the action steps for all. The changes were based on a combination of factors, primarily input from the Health Behavior community about what needed to be prioritized, as well as existing movement within Health Behavior or Gillings that may make a specific action more achievable; some actions were accomplished during the revision period.
As a reminder, the six primary strategies:

  1. Promote an inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist culture and climate within our department.
  2. Boost critical reflection, training, and action among faculty to promote anti-racism and equity in our
    teaching and mentoring.
  3. Build anti-racist and equity-focused work into the performance expectations and reviews of faculty and
  4. Increase diversity of Health Behavior faculty by improving recruitment and retention of faculty of color.
  5. Increase transparency in hiring practices for students and how financial resources are distributed.
  6. Enhance equity-oriented research practices, including but not limited to, hiring of research faculty and

Starting this summer, faculty will participate in “Equity Action Teams,” dedicated groups designed around a variety of short-term (approximately one year) projects to begin implementing the EAAP in earnest. The department chair has communicated an expectation that faculty participate in helping to realize the EAAP, and faculty have expressed a desire to get involved and make positive changes across the department. We plan for there to be meaningful engagement with students and staff after these teams are formed, but we recognize faculty have relative privilege and therefore a distinct responsibility to step up in this moment. To fulfill our promise of transparency and accountability, the Equity Task Force will be responsible for tracking and reporting progress of the various Equity Action Teams throughout the year.

As we redirect our energy into action, we will not be actively soliciting feedback on the EAAP with the same regularity, though we certainly continue to welcome feedback in order to adjust the plan or its implementation as appropriate. You can always reach out to the Task Force at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu, or visit our website at https://sph.unc.edu/hb/equity-task-force-updates where we continue to archive our updates.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re committed and excited to get started.

Current members of the Equity Task Force, listed in first name alphabetical order:

Eliana Armora Langoni
Kennedy Bridges
Shelley Golden
Marissa Hall
Raimah Hossain
Alex Lightfoot
Patsy Polston

P.S. Please feel free to distribute to others that may not be on this listserv but who may be interested in keeping up with the EAAP!

Read update from Friday, February 5, 2021.

Dear HB faculty, staff and students (including Global Health and EQUITY students!),

Greetings from the Health Behavior Equity Task Force. We hope you had a good break, and the new semester is getting off to a good start. We wanted to share a few updates on our progress since we last wrote, and our plans for the Spring semester.

Equity Accountability and Action Plan: We shared a draft EAAP last October. Many thanks to so many of you who provided your thoughtful feedback on this plan through the Qualtrics survey, during monthly faculty meetings, or through one of the three scheduled sessions we had with students, staff, and BIPOC departmental members. We are currently incorporating your many suggestions and plan to share a revised version with the department later this month.

Equity-Focused Faculty Retreat: Using resources developed by practicum student (and 2nd year HB MPH student) Deanie Anyangwe, and with assistance from MPH program assistant (and 2nd year HB MPH student) Snigdha Peddireddy, the Task Force planned a faculty retreat designed to foster anti-racism and apply an equity lens to our classroom teaching. Through two 3-hour Zoom sessions in early December faculty met to discuss instructor positionality, classroom norm setting, critical race theory, flexible/alternative assignments, and microaggressions. All faculty attended, with the exception of those on leave, and engagement with the material was high. Spring teaching faculty will be putting some strategies into practice this semester, and welcome your feedback (and flexibility) as they do so. A version of the slides used in the retreat are available on the Task Force website at: https://sph.unc.edu/hb/equity-task-force-updates/

Student Feedback and Concerns Website: The Task Force continues to support the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Inclusive Excellence to amend the student concerns website to add questions asking about experiences of bias, including microaggressions. Gillings’ staff are currently programming the system, and more information will be coming soon.

Welcome Emmanuel: The Task Force welcomes first year HB MPH student Emmanuel Saint-Phard to our work. Emmanuel has been hired as an SBT-funded research assistant to help with revision and implementation of the EAAP, possibly with a focus on student mentoring, and we are very excited to have him join us.

As always, we welcome questions, comments, suggestions and ideas. Please reach out to us
at  hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu at any time.

Alexandra Lightfoot, Carol Golin, Patsy Polston, Marissa Hall, Shelley Golden, Derrick Matthews
HB Equity Task Force Members

Read update from Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Dear All,

Here is a quick update from the Health Behavior Equity Task Force on our progress:

Refining the recommendations for our first draft of our Equity Action and Accountability Plan (EAAP).

  • currently includes 6 domains, short- and long-term action steps
  • aim to make the EAAP available for comment early next month
  • separate scheduled sessions for staff, students, and faculty to share feedback (invitations to come)

September 14th, we met Health Behavior administrative and research staff

  • discussed the purpose and background of the HB Equity Task Force and provided overview of current areas of focus
  • received valuable input, which we incorporated into the draft EAAP

Deanie Anyangwe, a 2nd year HB MPH/MCRP student, continues her practicum work producing a Anti-Racist Planning Guide for Public Health Pedagogy

  • a tool for faculty to critically evaluate their positionality, approach to teaching, course syllabi, and classroom management with an anti-racist lens
  • developing plan for how to use the guide
  • practicum is in collaboration with Office of Inclusive Excellence

You can read our past communications and find out more information about the Task Force at our website: https://sph.unc.edu/hb/equity-task-force-updates/.

As always, we welcome questions, comments, suggestions and ideas. Please reach out to us at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu at any time.

Carol Golin, Patsy Polston, Marissa Hall, Shelley Golden, Derrick Matthews, Alexandra Lightfoot
HB Equity Task Force Members

Read update from Friday, August 21, 2020.

From: Hall, Marissa G.
Sent: Friday, August 21, 2020 12:44 PM
To: The dept4640 mailing list.
Cc: HB Equity Task Force
Subject: August 2020 update from the Health Behavior Equity Task Force

Dear all,
We are writing as members of the Equity Task Force in the Department of Health Behavior to wish a warm welcome to new students and a welcome back to those students, faculty, and staff returning. We hope the semester is off to a good start, but we know this is a very stressful and uncertain time, and that this past week, in particular, has been incredibly difficult for the UNC community.

As many of you heard previously over the summer or at orientation, we are a group of Health Behavior faculty that the Department formed in February 2020 to provide guidance to the Department regarding ways to promote anti-racism and equity within the Department of Health Behavior. Our primary goals are to:

  • Develop and routinely iterate an Equity Action and Accountability Plan for the Department of Health Behavior.
  • Recommend and advocate for actions designed to promote an anti-racist culture within the Department.
  • Facilitate conversation, action, and accountability among and between Department stakeholders around diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism.

As one means of fostering transparency and accountability, we send regular communications like this one, about every four weeks to inform departmental stakeholders about our progress. We also have a website where we archive these communications and post other updates. Please check https://sph.unc.edu/hb/equity-task-force-updates/ for more information.

Today we’d like to update you on several of our summer activities. We have met weekly throughout the summer as a Task Force. We met over zoom with concentration and program cohort reps, held two student and one faculty community-building/feedback zoom sessions, and met with new students during orientation.

We surveyed all faculty to gauge the kinds of equity trainings they have engaged in since January 2020 and steps they have taken (e.g., changes in syllabus, personal reflection, etc.) to build their professional antiracism skills and practices. Of the 25 faculty who responded to the survey, 100% had attended at least one equity-related training since January 2020, and 96% had attended the Racial Equity Institute Groundwater training. Faculty also described a range of other anti-racist actions taken, including revising their syllabi with an anti-racist lens, initiating conversations within research labs about racism, doing their own reading and reflection, and supporting research staff to attend trainings. We will be gathering feedback from staff as well in the upcoming weeks.

We have been working in collaboration with the Office of Student Affairs, Office of Inclusive Excellence, Human Resources and other key stakeholders to finalize new microaggression-related questions that will be added to OSA’s student concerns website. The plan is for it to go live this fall and we will work with OSA, OIE, and Gillings to publicize the tool when it is open.

We are continuing to draft an Equity Action and Accountability Plan (EAAP) with recommendations and strategies for how our department in both the short- and long-term can move towards antiracist practices, policies, teaching, mentoring, research and hiring. Our goal regarding this plan is to hold sessions with students, faculty and staff early in the semester to incorporate crucial feedback into the draft plan.

Finally, we continue to support the work of our practicum student, Deanie Anyangwe, who has conducted 21 interviews with students and leaders in the field across the country. Based on her findings from these conversations, she is developing a Planning Guide for faculty with ideas, best practices, strategies, prompts for reflection, etc. that will be an important learning tool for our department going forward.

We welcome questions, comments, suggestions and ideas. Please reach out to us at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu at any time.

We look forward to working together to promote anti-racism and equity in our department.


Carol Golin, Patsy Polston, Marissa Hall, Shelley Golden, Derrick Matthews, Alexandra Lightfoot
HB Equity Task Force Members

Read update from Friday, July 11, 2020.

Golin, Carol E <carol_golin@med.unc.edu>
Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2020 3:42 PM
To: The dept4640 mailing list.

Dear All,
We are writing with an update about the activities of the Health Behavior Equity Task Force since our last email update on June 5th. We are sending these regular email updates as one means to maintain transparency and accountability for our actions on the Task Force. This month’s updates focus on a proposed microaggression follow-up system and departmental outreach and community building.

Before those updates, however, we want to express that we condemn the recently released horrific and unjust US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policy requiring in-person education for the maintenance and granting of educational visas, and cannot imagine the intense hardship, stress, and uncertainty that our international students are experiencing as a result. We find it unacceptable that any student would have to choose between their health and their education, or lose their previously earned training opportunities and face possible deportation because a university deems it unsafe to convene on campus. We strongly support the various legal and political challenges to the rule, and we hope that UNC
will join the growing list of universities signing onto the amicus brief supporting Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against the policy. As Task Force members, we will work with the department and the School to do whatever we can to ensure our international students can continue their education on schedule, and get the support they need.

Now to what we have been working on:

Microaggression System: We have been developing an online portal through which students can describe microaggressions they experience or witness in Gillings, and a series of steps that would be taken following each submission describing a microaggression. These steps would initially be taken by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and academic departments to address the microaggressions described. Earlier this week, the task force met with: Charletta Sims Evans from Office of Student Affairs; Yesenia Merino and Kauline Cipriani from the Office of Inclusive Excellence; Abbey McLennan from Human Resources; and Kurt Ribisl to review the proposed system. Our next step is to get input from students in the HB, Equity, and Global Health concentrations at our upcoming meeting on July 16 (see below for more information).

Departmental Outreach and Community Building: Earlier this week we met with cohort representatives from the HB, Equity and Global Health master’s concentrations, as well as from the HB doctoral program. Representatives asked questions about the Task Force’s mission and role in the department and provided feedback on strategies to best engage students in our work without placing a burden on them to DO our work. The conversation was very useful and the Task Force plans periodic meetings with students that focus on generating feedback on specific drafted/outlined components of our work products, with additional open-ended discussion time.

We have planned two upcoming meetings to share our work to date, collect feedback and generate discussion:

  • July 16, 3:30 – 5:00: Task Force & Student Meeting (focus on microaggression system)
  • July 23, 4:00 – 5:00: Task Force & HB Faculty Meeting

Calendar invites have been sent for these meetings to the respective constituencies; if you did not receive an invite and would like to attend, please let us know.

Finally, we recognize that our communications have not always reached all members of the HB community, especially those students in the Equity and Global Health concentrations. We are taking steps to remedy our communications challenges including building a website that will include background information about the Task Force’s membership and mission, and will also archive our past communications. We have received excellent recommendations from cohort reps and welcome the perspectives of all students in all of our affiliated programs as valued members of the HB community about how we can improve communications and transparency.

In our August email update, we look forward to sharing what we learn in our student and faculty meetings and provide updates about the Equity Accountability and Action Plan we are developing. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback and questions. You can reach us at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu.


Derrick Matthews
Marissa Hall
Patsy Polston
Shelley Golden
Alexandra Lightfoot
Carol Golin

Members of the HB Equity Task Force

Read update from Friday, June 5, 2020.

From: Golin, Carol E
Sent: Friday, June 5, 2020 6:28 PM
To: dept4640@listserv.unc.edu
Cc: HB Equity Task Force
Subject: June 5 Update from the Health Behavior Equity Task Force

Dear HB Department Students, Faculty and Staff,

We are writing with our next regular email update about what, we, the members of the Health Behavior Equity Task Force, have done since our last email update on May 8th. We are sending these regular email updates as one means to maintain transparency and accountability for our actions on the Task Force. The information below contains updates from the last four weeks about steps we have taken toward: Transparency, Community Building and Accountability and Addressing Microaggressions.

First, we would like to state that we stand in strong condemnation of the violence, police brutality, and murder carried out against Black people by white people, including the most recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, David McAtee, Manuel Ellis, and Tony McDade. We stand in strong support of the righteous and ongoing protests that people across the United States are participating in to express their outrage and call for necessary and much overdue systemic change in our country. We, too, are feeling outraged and anguished by these recent murders while recognizing that the urgency in addressing racism in the US is not new or novel. Recent events lay bare the ubiquitous and systemic nature of racism that has been a part of our country for 400 years. We stand in solidarity and support of our Black students, faculty, and staff and commit to working to dismantle systemic racism. We know that words are not enough. We need action. As individuals, we have each made our own personal commitments to take action in support of the fight for racial justice. As an HB Equity Task Force, our charge is to create this change within our Department through specific actions to enact an anti-racist agenda and culture.

We would like to recognize and express our gratitude for the many students, and especially students of color, who have pushed our department to examine ourselves critically and create change over many years. Two examples of this – the Equity Collective report and the day of action on March 4 – offered specific suggestions that are guiding much of our work. We also appreciate the words and actions in this week’s “White Student Statement Against Racism.” The clear statement of beliefs, commitments and means of demonstrating accountability reveals the authors’ deep sincerity, passion and dedication to fighting for racial justice, and serves as a model for allyship.

In the past four weeks, we have taken the following steps toward addressing two of our highest priority goals (described in previous emails):

1. Transparency, Community Building and Accountability: We heard clearly from students the importance of the HB Department transparently communicating its actions related to addressing racial equity. We believe the same approach is critical for the HB Task Force. To that end, we held a student community-building forum on Friday, May 27th from 4 pm – 6 pm. We are profoundly grateful to the 35 students, representing a mixture of current HB MPH and PhD students, as well as recent HB MPH graduates, who were able to join us. We had a dynamic discussion which provided a lot of good ideas and feedback for us to translate into action as we do this work. While the discussion by students was robust and varied, several particularly salient points stood out
for our follow-up:

  • Need to incorporate anti-racist content and community-building opportunities for the incoming HB MPH cohort which the Foundations course, previously in HB and now in EQUITY, provided. The Task Force is now exploring several mechanisms for integrating this content and cohort-building experience into the first semester for HB first year MPH students, in consultation with leadership of the HB MPH program.
  • Isolation of students of color. We heard that our students of color don’t have a place to connect with each other and we hope to provide this type of support within our department. As part of a separate initiative, one of our Task Force members (Patsy Polston) has been working with Gillings’ Office of Student Affairs (OSA) to set up a Black Student Support Pod. The Pod has been set up and the first meeting is Friday June 5th.
  • Accountability of faculty regarding participation in racial equity trainings. We heard that students are eager for more information about how participation in racial equity trainings will be tracked and monitored. Students asked questions about how faculty will be held accountable for their commitments to attend the Racial Equity Institute (REI) Phase I training. Task Force members are working to develop a tracking and accountability system for trainings via our Action and Accountability Plan.
  • Curricular reform and accountability. We heard from students that they wanted to know about Task Force activities we are conducting to improve the anti-racist and equity pedagogy of the HB curriculum. We are gathering resources and exploring practices we can implement. To help us with this process, Deanie Anyangwe is working with us through her joint Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE)/Equity Task Force practicum to develop a draft HB Equity Assessment Tool and Training. These resources will be beneficial to HB faculty as they institute inclusive teaching principles and strategies and improve their classroom practices. Task Force members are seeking additional trainings to build our skills and capacities as antiracist educators. One member attended the half-day Equity in Mentoring Workshop held by the Office of Faculty Excellence on May 15 with HB Department Chair. Next week, Task Force members are attending the two-day workshop, Inclusive Classrooms Annual Symposium: Understanding and Addressing Structural Racism.
  • Desire for more student input. During the meeting, we heard that students wanted to have more input and interactions with the Task Force. We recognize that one important part of working towards an anti-racist culture in our Department is to build a community of common purpose and trust in which difficult and uncomfortable conversations about race and racism can take place. The conversation last Friday was only a first step; we plan to convene similar meetings monthly this summer. The next meeting, which will be an opportunity to collectively engage around elements of the Equity Action and Accountability
    (EAA) plan, will be held Friday, June 26th at 3:30.
  • Other issues we heard raised that will warrant future discussion and actions include mentorship/advising, dynamics between doctoral and masters students, privileging of white students’ learning, and diversity of faculty hires.

2. Addressing Microaggressions: Having identified several potential tools (including the NC State Bias Impact Reporting Tool that was described in the report on addressing microaggressions at Gillings by Rakiah Anderson, Lauren Frey, Dane Emmerling, Riley Smith and Yesenia Merino), we have been developing a proposal to update current schoolwide reporting systems to better track and follow-up on microaggression reports. To date, we have developed a draft of both: a) a distinct, user-friendly, easy to access online mechanism for individuals to document and report experiences of microaggressions; and b) a well-defined process and chain of communication for responding in a timely and productive manner to the reported incidents. We also recognize that any system should be coupled with substantial anti-racist and racial equity resources and trainings for faculty and staff to both prevent microaggressions from occurring and to equip individuals who commit a microaggression to respond to the feedback as constructively as possible. We are committed to identifying the best ways to support the reporting system with these other resources. The next step will be to solicit feedback on our ideas about the microaggression reporting tool and system from the Office of Inclusive Excellence and the Office of Student Affairs later this month. We plan to send an update email approximately every four weeks but welcome your feedback or questions anytime in the interim. You can reach us at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu.


Patsy Polston
Shelley Golden
Derrick Matthews
Carol Golin
Marissa Hall
Alexandra Lightfoot

Members of the HB Equity Task Force

Read update from Friday, May 8, 2020.

From: Matthews, Derrick <derrick.matthews@unc.edu>
Sent: Friday, May 8, 2020 11:34 AM
To: The dept4640 mailing list.
Cc: HB Equity Task Force
Subject: [dept4640] May 8 update from Health Behavior Equity Task Force

Hi Everyone,

We are writing with an update on what the Health Behavior Equity Task Force has been doing since our last communication by email on April 17. This is part of our endeavor to communicate regularly about our Task Force’s progress as one means of maintaining transparency and accountability.

In the past three weeks, the Task Force has focused our time and energy in two main areas: 1) identifying tools and strategies to address microaggressions; and 2) improving the anti-racist and equity focus in our curriculum. We have also created an internal timeline to keep us on track towards our goal of creating a draft Equity Action and Accountability Plan for review by the end of the summer (as described in our last email communication).

We took several steps toward our goals in these two main areas. We met with Charletta Sims Evans (Student Affairs) and Yesenia Merino (Office of Inclusive Excellence) on April 22 to gain insight into how reporting of student concerns (in general) is currently done, learn about the current resources and barriers to creating a School-wide microaggression reporting system, and discuss potential options for improving the current system. During this meeting, we agreed that the next steps will be for the Task Force to gain understanding of different existing tools and strategies, including the NCState Bias Impact Reporting Tool. This tool was brought to our attention via the report, “A System to Document and Address Microaggressions at Gillings School of Global Public Health” (Rakiah Anderson, Lauren Frey, Dane Emmerling, & Riley Smith, edited by Yesenia Merino). One of our aims is to explore potential ways to modify the existing systems of the Dean of Students office, and if feasible, pilot the modified system this fall. We acknowledge, however, that any microaggression reporting system will be insufficient if not coupled with substantial resources and training to 1) handle microaggressions productively and promptly as they occur; and 2) prevent microaggressions from occurring in the first place. Concerns about the best ways to couple a reporting system with such resources and trainings continue to be at the forefront of our discussions as a Task Force and as a Department.

In terms of our curriculum, we are thrilled to announce that we have hired an HB MPH student, Deanie Anyangwe, to complete a joint summer practicum with the Task Force and the Office of Inclusive Excellence (OIE), that is a collaboration between the Task for and the OIE. Deanie has a strong interest in applying anti-racist pedagogy to curriculum-related topics. We are currently finalizing her practicum learning agreement, which includes a strong focus on incorporating equity and an anti-racist focus into our curriculum. We also continue to seek out opportunities to build our own skills and knowledge. For example, on April 24, Task Force members participated in a four-hour workshop titled “Health Behavior Equity in Teaching.” Liz Chen and the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) developed and led the workshop, attended by a total of 23 HB faculty. The workshop began with a presentation about the history of race and racism at UNC. Faculty then worked in small groups to examine our courses, using Center for Faculty Excellence materials on: 1) equitable assignments and assessment, 2) culturally relevant course content, 3) discussing and facilitating conversations in the classroom, 4) content delivery and explanation, and 5) equitable student group work.

We also have an update about the two-day REI Phase 1 training that faculty had previously unanimously agreed to complete this summer. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, REI has had to suspend Phase 1 trainings until they can be held in person and our understanding is that there are no current plans to offer the training virtually. The faculty continue to be committed to our goal of completing the REI Phase 1 as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. In the interim, we continue to be committed to identifying additional opportunities for training in racial equity principles and skills. We will ask faculty to leverage virtual equity-focused trainings as they arise, such as the upcoming two-day inclusive pedagogy workshop “Inclusive classrooms annual symposium: Understanding and addressing structural racism” (on June 8-9; register here.) and the REI “A Groundwater Approach to Racial Equity” trainings (June 12, 15, 26, or 29, 9am-12pm; register here.). Each of these trainings is open to students, faculty, and staff at Gillings. We note that these additional trainings will not be considered replacements for REI Phase 1 training, but instead supplements to it.

Finally, as indicated in the timeline in our last email, we are planning an open dialogue session. Students: please keep an eye out for an Outlook invitation to an Open Dialogue Session between the Task Force and students in late May. The purpose of this session will be to listen to current and recently graduated student concerns and suggestions about improving equity and inclusiveness in HB, as well as answer questions about and discuss the Task Force’s progress and next steps.

We plan to send an email again in three weeks but would love feedback anytime in the interim. You can reach us at hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu.

All the best,
Health Behavior Equity Task Force
Members: Alexandra Lightfoot, Carol Golin, Derrick Matthews, Marissa Hall, Patsy Polston, Shelley Golden

Derrick D. Matthews, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior
University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health
361 Rosenau Hall | 919.843.5062 | derrick.matthews@unc.edu
Pronouns: he/him/his

Read update from Friday, April 17, 2020.

From: Hall, Marissa G.
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2020 2:34 PM
To: The dept4640 mailing list.
Cc: HB Equity Task Force
Subject: April 17 update from Health Behavior Equity Task Force

Greetings everyone,

We wanted to update everyone on what the Health Behavior Equity Task Force has been doing since our initial communication on March 24, and more importantly, what we have in store over the next several months. This is part of our effort to communicate regularly about our Task Force’s progress as one means of transparency and accountability.

Since we last emailed we have:

  • Developed and published a summer practicum opportunity for a first-year master’s student in Health Behavior, Equity or Global Health, in partnership with the School’s Inclusive Excellence Office. (see P.S. for more information)
  • Secured funding for that practicum, split equally between the department and the Office.
  • Developed a timeline for producing an Equity Action and Accountability (EAA) Plan (see below)
  • Identified a process for reviewing each component of the Equity Collective report, identifying additional actions
    that may not respond directly to the report but that are critical to the broader goals of equity and inclusion in the department.
  • Brainstormed short-term opportunities and longer-term goals.
  • Reviewed the most recent communication from HB students about the March 4th walkout to discuss how to incorporate ideas and respond to recommendations.
  • Established an email listserv for communicating with the HB Equity Task Force (hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu)

Timeline for the Equity Action and Accountability (EAA) Plan
Our goal is to produce a draft EAA plan by the end of the summer. The plan will include recommended actions, implementation steps and resources required to achieve them, and a timeline and accountability system for those steps. We will then launch a semester-long series of discussions about the EAA content and implementation, with a goal of a more refined EAA plan ready for initial implementation by December 2020 This is a long-term process and we fully expect to continue to refine and evolve the plan to address emerging needs going forward. We will be working closely with the soon-to-be-hired practicum student to make sure we have appropriate mechanisms in place that allow for student voices to be incorporated throughout both the initial development of the EAA and the feedback period. We recognize this timeline may seem too long to those who are frustrated by inaction and concerned for the immediate
well-being of our students. We believe that this timeline is necessary to build investment in, and commitment to, the EAA plan, without which, our efforts will fail. However, we also believe there are some immediate actions the department can take between now and August to improve equity and inclusion in the department this fall. We plan to outline those in a memo to the department chair by July.

Here is a draft timeline for the EEA plan’s development over the rest of this academic year:

  • April: Hire student for HB Equity Task Force & Inclusive Excellence practicum opportunity
  • Late May: Hold a Community Dialogue with current and graduating students to share emerging ideas for the EAA plan and garner initial student feedback
  • June: Develop and implement structure for soliciting and incorporating feedback from Department stakeholders, with the help of practicum student
  • July: Submit memo to department chair with recommendations for “short list” of immediate actions to be taken by the start of Fall 2020 semester
  • Mid-August: Circulate initial draft of EAA plan to Department
  • Early Fall: Begin stakeholder dialogues on EAA draft plan
  • Fall 2020: Iteratively revise EAA plan based on stakeholder input
  • End of Fall 2020: Release a revised EAA plan

The end of Fall 2020 will not conclude this work but rather will mark an important beginning. With its focus on accountability, the Task Force is designing the EAA plan to be a living document that guides the actions of the Department moving forward. As we progress in our work over the summer, we will use our regular (every 3 weeks) communications to the Department to keep everyone updated about the status of our work, or if any changes need to be made.

Finally, we wanted to mention that next week, we will be reaching out to REI about their virtual training plans given the COVID-19 situation, and will provide an update on the timeline for faculty completing the REI Phase I training in our next email communication.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are excited to move forward together.

Health Behavior Equity Task Force (hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu)
Members: Alexandra Lightfoot, Carol Golin, Derrick Matthews, Marissa Hall, Patsy Polston, Shelley Golden

P.S. More information about the Practicum Opportunity
Last week we sent around information about a practicum opportunity to work with the Health Behavior Equity Task Force and the school-wide Office of Inclusive Excellence this summer. We’ve reattached the practicum description for details – if you are interested in applying please send an e-mail with your qualifications and interest in the position, along with a CV, to hbequitytaskforce@unc.edu by 9am on Monday, April 20. We will be reviewing all applications as a Task Force – along with a representative from the Office of Inclusive Excellence during our April 22nd meeting. Our plan is to then interview approximately 2-4 applicants during the week of April 29th and make our final offer shortly after.

Marissa G. Hall, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Behavior
UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
312 Rosenau Hall | CB#7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440
(336) 972-3365
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Read update from Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

From: Golden, Shelley <sgolden@email.unc.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 3:46 PM
To: The dept4640 mailing list.
Subject: [dept4640] Update from Equity Task Force

Greetings all,

We hope this message finds you well and in good health. We are writing as faculty on the Department of Health Behavior’s newly formed Equity Task Force to provide an update on our work thus far. We formed on Thursday, February 27, after the faculty meeting on Monday, February 24, in response to our discussion of the Equity Collective report. At the end of that meeting, Kurt asked for volunteers to work on behalf of the department to develop an action plan to respond to and build upon the recommendations of the report. Each of us reached out to Kurt shortly after the meeting expressing our interest in serving on this task force and we scheduled our first meeting for the Wednesday of spring break (March 10). The urgency of our work became even more apparent with the student organizing action and walkout on March 4th, and we have met twice thus far on March 10th and 20th to organize ourselves as a group and determine collectively how best to proceed.

Meetings and Goals
Moving forward, we will be meeting on a weekly basis. Our first and most urgent goal is to develop a draft of an Equity Action and Accountability (EAA) Plan to share with students, faculty, and staff for feedback and refinement. Our hope is that this Plan will provide our department a structure and process to address the issues raised in the Equity Collective Report and identify resources (trainings, readings, podcasts, etc.) and strategies (models from other institutions, etc.) that can help faculty build our knowledge, skills and capacity as inclusive and antiracist educators. Where appropriate, we will coordinate efforts with the Gillings Inclusive Excellence Task Force to leverage resources and approaches, but our Task Force – and the EAA Plan – will keep the needs and priorities of the Health Behavior Department and its students at its core. As a first step, faculty have committed to completing the 2-day REI training, with funding and support from the department chair.

We appreciate the Equity Collective’s report and the passion and commitment of our students to push for racial equity within our department. We want you to know that we hear you and are committed to moving our department forward. We also recognize that we have a lot of work to do. The Task Force is thinking through how to create brave spaces not just for students, but also for ourselves so that we can better lean into and not pull away from the difficult conversations we need to have. We fully expect and encourage accountability, so we will be sharing an updated timeline of our actions at the end of the semester and will shortly start regular (every 2-3 weeks) communication to everyone in the Department.

Student Practicum Opportunity and Input
Students at the February faculty meeting spoke clearly: it is time for us as faculty to do our work and create a plan for implementing and tracking meaningful changes. Though we just convened, we have already identified several tasks for which we need help. In the short-term, Kurt is willing to commit funds for an MPH student summer practicum to help us achieve our goals; we are looking into the possibility of splitting a practicum with the School’s Inclusive Excellence office. To be clear: this student will be helping us carry out our work; they are not meant to stand as the representative of the Health Behavior student experience, though we do look forward to working with them in developing strategies to meaningfully engage and incorporate student voices. We’ll announce a call for applications for that summer opportunity soon. Apart from any future structured opportunities to engage, we welcome your suggestions and input at any point. You can reach out to any of us individually, or as a group, to share ideas or to set up a time to meet.

Thanks again to the Equity Collective for their time, commitment, and labor in producing the report which has already been invaluable in guiding our work. We look forward to sharing updates of our progress with the hope this moves us to building a foundation of equity, cooperation, and community. More now than ever, we recognize the need to move forward together, not apart.

Thank you,

Health Behavior Equity Task Force


Patsy Polston
Derrick Matthews
Alexandra Lightfoot
Marissa Hall
Carol Golin
Shelley Golden


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135 Dauer Drive
302 Rosenau Hall, CB #7440
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440
(919) 966-3761