June 1, 2023

Event Recap | Dean’s Forum on Race & Public Policy: Sovereign Leadership in Public Health Policy

The Dean’s Forum series focuses on the intersection of race and public policy in support of the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance’s mission to host community conversations that inspire public leaders.

This panel discussed how Indigenous communities in the U.S. and across the globe have developed innovative public health policies and programs to face health inequities rooted in settler colonialism, intergenerational trauma, and structural racism. Our panelists shared their insights into the developments by and for sovereign nations to protect the health and well-being of their communities in response to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental pollution, and climate change.

This panel addressed how tribal nations are adopting community-led public health initiatives to provide creative solutions and better health outcomes while working with current federal organizations and regulations. Our panelists shared their ideas to reimagine how federal organizations can align programs with the leadership of indigenous communities directly to honor trusts and treaties with sovereign nations.

Event Speakers:


Abigail Echo-Hawk
Executive Vice President, Seattle Indian Health Board
Director, Urban Indian Health Initiative


Kimberly Huyser
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of British Columbia


Laura Platero
Executive Director
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

Dean Jodi Sandfort

Jodi Sandfort
University of Washington
Evans School of Public Policy & Governance