Saron Selassie

Saron Selassie
Location: Los Angeles, California Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Community/Civic Engagement, Health Care Access, Health Care Quality, LGBTQ+ Health, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Sexual Health, Social Sector/Non-Profit Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), Adults (21-64 years), African-American/Black, Homeless Populations, LGBTQ+ Communities, Low-Income Communities, People Living with HIV/AIDS, People with Addictions, Urban Communities
Prevention and Care Manager
Black AIDS Institute

Saron is based in Los Angeles and works at the intersection of racial justice and public health. Her vision of a Culture of Health is one free of structural oppression and full of structures, systems, and policies that facilitate health and opportunity. She is currently applying this lens to the field of HIV. The field has all of the biomedical tools to end the HIV epidemic, and yet it persists because of racist, homophobic, transphobic, economically unjust structures. Los Angeles County follows national trends with black communities disproportionately affected by HIV. In Los Angeles, black people make up only 8 percent of the population but represent 20 percent of all people living with HIV and 30 percent of deaths due to AIDS-related complications. Saron believes that to truly end this epidemic among the most affected communities, the field must focus on dismantling the drivers of the epidemic.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Liberation Strategy-based Virtual Hub for Strengthening the Los Angeles Public Health Workforce
Public health researchers and advocates have asserted that structural oppression and racism are drivers of health disparities. As a result, ‘health equity’ and ‘social determinants of health’ have entered the public health lexicon. While this is a good starting point, the public health workforce needs to take steps to make impactful systems change. My goal is to ensure that health advocates, including myself, have the tools and resources to dismantle existing systems of oppression and envision and create new systems that recognize the full humanity and health of individuals. This strategic initiative will be a start to achieving this vision. It will be a virtual hub that houses existing resources, tools adapted with a public health lens, and newly developed content. It will draw on the liberatory work of generations of organizers, anti-oppression public health researchers, and the people at the intersections. My initiative focuses on the field of public health, with the priority population being the public health workforce. Many of the hub’s resources may be broadly applicable; however, this project will be grounded in the public health and cultural landscape of Los Angeles, drawing on the expertise of a diverse group of local leaders.

Saron is a Southern California native with roots in communities in Los Angeles and a commitment to supporting these communities to leverage their power to improve their health and well-being. She wants to ensure that public health advocates have the tools and resources to dismantle existing systems of oppression, and envision and create new systems that recognize the full humanity and health of individuals.

Click here to watch Saron’s Legacy Project video.