This project seeks to document the biographies of researchers, clinicians, and activists that have devoted their careers to the cause of health equity.

These types of narratives are rarely recorded in the academic literature, and when they exist at all, tend to focus only on the notable leaders in the field.  We started this project with the relatively simple goal of collecting and archiving qualitative stories of a wide spectrum of people working on different aspects of health equity in Chicago – over time, building an archive that might add a layer of complexity to the narratives we have in the academic literature.

As an extension of our Voices of Equity Project, we welcome you to our CCHE Podcast.

In March 2023, CCHE Co-Director Maria Ferrera talked with Dr. Dan Schober, Assistant Professor of DePaul’s MPH program and former Director of the Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative. They discuss the work he has done through CGVRC, ongoing and future projects to promote health equity in partnership with communities.

Above, Dan Schober with Executive Director Diane Latiker and the youth from community organization Kids off the Block after cleaning up a building they aim convert into a youth tech center.

As part of the Chicago Gun Violence Research Collaborative, Dan and Terry Williams facilitate a session with youth from Kids Off The Block in the Roseland neighborhood. They discuss research activism and survey results highlighting gun violence concerns.

Podcast Host: Maria J. Ferrera, CCHE Co-Director; Assistant Producer: Estefania Valentin

On January 13, 2023, an inaugural podcast interview was conducted with the founders of the Center for Community Health Equity who discuss its beginnings, ongoing work, and future directions. Margaret Storey, Professor of History and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at DePaul University, interviews Raj Shah and Fernando De Maio, Co-Founders of the Center.

Raj Shah is Co-Director of CCHE, a geriatrician at Rush University Medical Center, and Associate Professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center. Fernando De Maio is a Professor at DePaul’s Department of Sociology and Vice President of Health Equity Research and Data Use at the American Medical Association’s Center for Health Equity. 

Podcast Host: Maria J. Ferrera, Co-Director of CCHE

Assistant Producer for Inaugural Interview: Allison Woodward

Learn more about CCHE at and see this link to the article discussing the concept of Belonging referenced during the interview.

Past Interviews

“Can we build a coalition of mental health practitioners on behalf of the wellbeing of immigrant communities?”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 22
Topic: Immigrant mental health

Maria J. Ferrera, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor
DePaul University, Department of Social Work

Read the interview.

How do we support the network or the ecology of that family in ways that allow it to be mutually reinforcing, rather than to be in mortal conflict?

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 21
Topic: Low-income father involvement, engagement and capacity building​

Kirk E. Harris, PhD
Co-Founder, Co-Designer & CEO, Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities
Associate Professor, Urban Planning
School of Architecture and Urban Planning
University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

Read the interview.

“Well, maybe research needs to change how it thinks about communities.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 20
Topics: Community-engaged research (CEnR), community-based participatory research (CBPR), community academic partnerships​

Jen Brown, MPH
Director, Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities
Northwestern University Center for Community Health
Northwestern University Institute for Public Health and Medicine
Lecturer, Department of Preventive Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine

Read the interview.

“We ourselves are part of the solutions and not dependent on outsiders coming in and testing things out with us.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 19
Topic: Latino community organization and engagement​

Fanny Diego Alvarez, MSW
Associate Director

Read the interview.

“…it’s really helpful to have someone on your side.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 18
Topic: Breast cancer policy, advocacy, and navigation​

Ariel J. Thomas, MS
Health Policy/Advocacy and Research Coordinator
Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force

Read the interview.

“…sound policy is for the people and by the people. Sound policy is policy that is very much informed by the community and its development is influenced by community advocacy.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 17
Topic: Community outreach​

Juana Ballesteros, RN, MPH
Community Public Health Outreach Manager
Illinois Department of Public Health

Read the interview.

“Don’t be afraid to tell the truth out loud. Because, whatever, someone’s gotta say it, and it might as well be you.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 16
Topic: Health policy and advocacy

Tiffany Ford, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst for Health Reform and Health Equity
Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

Read the interview.

“…you’ve got to temper that optimism with some realism and know that things aren’t going to be fixed completely or right away. But every small bit that I see improve makes me glad that I’m doing this…”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 15
Topic: Federally Qualified Health Center

Paul Luning, MD, MPH
Chief Medical Officer, PCC Community Wellness Center
Associate Program Director, West Suburban Family Medicine Residency Program

Read the interview.

“Equity is a problem of very significant disparities in opportunity…”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 14
Topic: Hospital-based food pantry

Stacy Tessler Lindau, MD, MAPP
Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics, University of Chicago
Director of the South Side Health and Vitality Studies (SSHVS), University of Chicago

Read the interview.

“We are always asking, ‘what’s wrong with the neighborhood? What are they doing wrong?’ But so few look at what the neighborhoods are really doing right.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 13
Topic: Pediatric asthma​

Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Clinical attending, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital
Director of the Science and Outcomes of Allergy and Asthma Research Team (SOAAR)

Read the interview.

“Everyone should have the same opportunity to have good health and no one should suffer for reasons that are preventable.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 12
Topic: Perceived discrimination and mortality among older adults

Lisa L. Barnes, PhD
Professor of Neurological Sciences and Behavioral Sciences, Rush University Medical Center
Cognitive Neuropsychologist, Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center

Read the interview.

“…if we want to attack fear, there are certain policies and procedures that clinics and providers can implement to make their institutions more immigrant friendly or immigrant safe.”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 11
Topic: Immigrant and refugee rights​

Luvia Quiñones, MPP
Health Policy Director
Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR)

Read the interview.

“If we want to make our city healthier, I believe we need to get out of our comfort zones and see the world from the perspective of the neighborhoods”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 10
Topic: Type II diabetes and the use of Community Health Workers​

Steven K. Rothschild, MD
Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Family Medicine
Vice Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine
Associate Chair for Clinical Programs, Department of Family Medicine
Rush University Medical Center

Read the interview.

“We understand health equity through empathy, so you have to put yourself in situations so you can feel what it’s like”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 9
Topic: Violence, acquired disability, and masculinity​

Noam Ostrander, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Social Work
DePaul University

Read the interview.

“What we’re finding is even sliding fee scales are a barrier to access…”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 8
Topic: Access to mental health services in the Latino community

Arturo Carrillo, PhD, LCSW
Mental Health and Family Support Services
Saint Anthony Hospital

Read the interview.

“The more that I engage in community research, the more I question our own biases in academia”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 7
Topic: Community-based participatory research and transformative communication spaces​

Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Public Health
University of Illinois Chicago

Read the interview.

“We have really tried to give community a voice and partner with them around the questions we ask”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 6
Topic: Childhood obesity

Maryann Mason, PhD
Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
Community and Evaluation Research Director, Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children

Read the interview.

“If we treat human beings as victims first and foremost, we can stop further violence”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 5
Topic: Social contagion and non-fatal gun shots​

Andrew Papachristos, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Yale University

Read the interview.

“…if I looked at the research through an anti-racist lens, a lot of things came into focus that had not been clear to me before”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 4
Topic: Racism and birthweight disparities

Richard David, MD
Stroger Hospital of Cook County

Read the interview.

“…these maps tell strong stories about racism, segregation and its outcomes in Chicago”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 3
Topic: Food deserts

Daniel Block, PhD
Department of Geography
Chicago State University

Read the interview.

“I knew that social justice was going to be a part of whatever I did…”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 2
Topic: Diabetes care and outcomes

Monica E. Peek, MD, MPH, MSc
University of Chicago

Read the interview.

“The farther you were from the trauma center, the more likely you were to die”

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago
Interview No. 1
Topic: Trauma desert

Marie Crandall, MD, MPH, FACS
Professor, Department of Surgery
Division of Acute Care Surgery
University of Florida

Read the interview.