6 months?!

OHEA Director Zeenia Junkeer

OHEA Director Zeenia Junkeer

It has been almost six months since I started here at OHEA, as the first ever Director. It’s been such a humbling and exciting experience to say the least! As folks may know, OHEA underwent a structural redesign about 8 months ago, which led to OHEA hiring our first Director, and to a more unified way to engage in our work. Our Community Powered Change initiative has been the backbone of this unification, which is an incredible way to be rooted and grounded in community led and driven processes, models and frameworks for policy, systems and environment change.

As a physician, my inner monologue, analogies and examples often tie back to the human body and its processes, and as I wrote ‘backbone’ I was keenly aware of the way I view the spine and how without this structure, there is little for anything else to affix to or be stabilized by. I think this is a perfect analogy for the work of Community Powered Change, built from years of conversations, collaboration and examination of the desires, barriers, challenges and opportunities around health and health outcomes, alongside communities.

The work of OHEA grew from local community leaders, folks of color and culturally specific community based organizations; from the need to create a model where our voices and the voices of those most impacted could be centered, intentionally, and consistently. A space where policies could be crafted acknowledging possible unintended consequences, barriers and culturally specific considerations that can only come with a lived experience that includes facing health disparities. A space where solutions were grounded in the expertise and lived experience of community members themselves.

Community Powered Change reminds us, and challenges dominant frameworks and models, to listen to the communities we are serving. Like to REALLY listen, and then co-create powerful strategies for local, regional and statewide policy change. I am excited to be part of this work and to have been able to join a team with so much experience, expertise and knowledge.

We look forward to moving our work collaboratively, acknowledging our privilege and power, identifying opportunities to grown and building in solidarity toward health equity.

In health,

Ericka Lozano-Buhl