UEI Director Vanessa Otero named to COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group

Vanessa Otero Smith College ’03, Director of the Smith College Urban Education Initiative was recently named to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Health Equity Advisory Group. The committee is charged with advising Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH and the Department of Public Health (DPH) on health equity issues related to, and exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic and recommending solutions to be implemented at all levels.

DPH seeks to build on current agency work to identify and reduce health inequities among DPH priority populations, with a focus on communities of color. This body is a group of external stakeholders with existing engagement in communities throughout the Commonwealth, a history of authentic engagement in health and racial equity work, and a perspective on both content, expertise, and lived experience to guide their recommendations and feedback. The Advisory Group will meet weekly through May.

Ms. Otero is also a member of the Baker Administration’s Latino Advisory Committee and board member of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The Smith College Urban Education Initiative (UEI) provides opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the study and practice of teaching and education reform in urban settings. Students gain understanding of the roots and day-to-day experience of education inequality in the U.S. and prepare for meaningful careers that bridge economic, educational and social divisions. The UEI connects Smith to a critical value in American society: the promise—and the challenge—of promoting education as the prime lever for social mobility, an informed citizenry, socio-economic advancement, health and positive social change.

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