The Changing Health Department I: Multisectoral Partnerships 
Thursday, July 23, 2015 1:00 - 2:30 p.m. ET

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law in 2010, primarily aims to increase access to and quality of health care. However, because it contains several provisions targeted at preventive and community health, there is expectation that the ACA will drastically transform the U.S. public health system. This webinar series will spotlight public health agency innovation in the wake of health systems change. 


Overview: The rise in complex chronic conditions is contributing to increasing health care costs, poorer quality of life, and greater health inequities. While seen as preventable, tackling these conditions will require multi-sectoral, systems-level solutions. Long-lasting policy and systems change efforts must address the social determinants of health in order to make real progress in slowing today's most challenging public health burdens.

This webinar detailed a unique and longstanding multi-sectoral partnership to address asthma and poor housing conditions in Boston. It described program, policy and systems change strategies that have improved multifamily housing and ensured that residents with asthma have access to healthier home environments. Speakers from the city housing agencies and public health, advocacy and health care organizations described their unique role in this partnership as well as the motivators and challenges faced. Representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will served as policy reactors and overviewed the federal policy landscape as it relates to housing and health.

Faculty: Indira Alvarez, Boston Inspectional Services; Peter Ashley, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Len Clay, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Dion Irish, Boston Office of Fair Housing and Equity; John Kane, Boston Housing Authority; Kathleen McCabe, Health Resources in Action; Margaret Reid, Boston Public Health Commission; Megan Sandel, Boston Medical Center 

Learning Objectives: At the end of this webinar, participants were able to: 

  • Identify potential benefits of multi-sectoral approaches to public health challenges;
  • Identify potential stakeholders to involve in a multi-sectoral housing partnership and the unique contributions and motivators of each;
  • Identify strategies for collecting, using, and sharing population-level data to improve community health outcomes;
  • Describe national policy priorities in support of healthy housing;
  • Identify opportunities for research to fill knowledge gaps.



Indira C. Alvarez, M.U.A., currently is the Chief of Staff for the City of Boston Inspectional Services Department; prior to this appointment she served as Assistant Commissioner of Inspectional Services Department and Director of Housing Division as well as Housing Manager in charge of the proactive inspection program for over 12 years. She holds a Master's Degree in Urban Affairs from Boston University and a B.A. in management of human services from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.  She has served as a public servant for over 15 years in the areas of social work, community liaison, code enforcement and policy implementation. 

Peter J. Ashley, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., directs the Policy and Standards Division within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. The Division manages the award of grants and contracts for research on residential hazard assessment and control methods and it contributes to policy development for the Office's programs, including the development of HUD's Healthy Homes Strategic Plan. He received a Doctor of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he conducted research on urban lead exposure and a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan. Previous professional experience includes serving as an environmental toxicologist and director of the Division of Environmental Health Assessment for the Maryland Department of the Environment and as a toxicologist for a private consulting firm.  He has also taught environmental education and served as a teacher in the Peace Corps.   
Dion Irish, M.U.A., has served the city of Boston for 20 years. Prior to being appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh as Executive Director of the Office of Fair Housing and Equity, he was director of housing Inspections at Boston Inspectional Services (ISD) for 12 years; where he helped to develop nationally recognized programs, initiatives and trainings to create stronger, healthier, equitable communities.  Dion was awarded with a 2014 Henry L. Shattuck Award for excellence in public service from the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. He has bachelors and master's degrees from Boston University, and is currently a master's degree candidate at Suffolk University. 
John Kane, M.P.P.,  is a Senior Program Coordinator for the Boston Housing Authority and has worked for the BHA for the past 14 years with an emphasis on resident engagement.  In his current position, he has engaged in numerous healthy housing research collaborations focused on developing a better understanding of the built environment as well as resident health programs and in turn using that knowledge to improve the health and living conditions of residents. Mr. Kane's Master of Public Policy degree is from Georgetown University.    
Kathleen McCabe, M.P.A., joined the Health Resources in Aaction (HRiA) team in 2007 and is currently the director of policy and practice. She brings both strategic leadership and technical content expertise to HRiA's Policy and Practice work. During her tenure at HRiA, Ms. McCabe has managed the organization's smoke-free housing work, led best practice policy research in the areas of transportation, chronic disease prevention, climate change and healthy homes, and partnered with HRiA colleagues on both strategic planning and Health Impact Assessment. She currently manages Working on Wellness, a statewide Worksite Wellness initiative for small/medium-sized businesses in Massachusetts. Prior to coming to HRiA, Kathleen worked at the Boston Public Health Commission where she served as a Mayor's Urban Mechanic Fellow in Public Health. She is a graduate of Boston College and holds a master's in public administration from Northeastern University. 
Margaret Reid, M.P.A., RN, is the Boston Public Health Commission Director of Healthy Homes and Community Supports, which includes asthma, tobacco, injury prevention and oral health programs, Ms. Reid oversees program, policy and regulatory efforts to reduce exposure to tobacco and increase availability of smoke-free environments and to leverage existing systems to improve housing safety and health including overseeing Boston Breathe Easy at Home, an on-line housing code inspection referral system for Boston residents with asthma and the Boston Asthma Home Visit Collaborative, a city-wide infrastructure for asthma home visits with trained community health workers. Ms. Reid is the Principal Investigator on the BPHC's Boston REACH: Partners in Health and Housing grant from the CDC and the past Boston Tobacco Prevention Initiative funded through the CDC's CPPW grants. 
Megan Sandel, M.D., M.P.H., is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, the Medical Director of National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, and a Co-Principal Investigator with Children's Health Watch. She is the former pediatric medical director of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless program, and is a nationally recognized expert on housing and child health. She has served as a Principal Investigator for numerous NIH, HUD and foundation grants, working with the Boston Public Health Commission and Massachusetts Department of Public Health to improve the health of vulnerable children, particularly with asthma. She has served on numerous committees and advisory boards, such as the National Center for Healthy Housing, a national advocacy group, both the National American Academy of Pediatrics' and Massachusetts Chapter's Committee on Environmental Health, and CDC Advisory Committee for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention.   


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