Cohorts for Change Facilitator: Simona Kwon

Simona will facilitate the second workshop of the CLIC Cohorts for Change anti-racism series, “Identifying and Assessing Institutional Racism.” Cohorts for Change is a 6-month training program focusing on giving participants the knowledge and skills to further develop structural and administrative anti-racism initiatives within their CTSA Program hub. The series combines monthly live group discussions and activities with experienced facilitators plus asynchronous learning opportunities to facilitate short and long-term change.

Background: Simona Kwon, DrPH, MPH, a socio-behavioral epidemiologist, is an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. She is also the director and multi-PI of the NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health and directs the Integrating Special Populations Unit of the NYU CTSI.

Her research examines the social, structural and cultural factors that influence health in minoritized communities of color, including a focus on Asian American immigrants. She implements and evaluates evidence-based strategies in community settings, focusing on cultural relevance, impact and identifying community-centered channels through which to translate research into sustainable practice.

What interests you personally about the Cohorts for Change Workshop Series?

The foundation of my research is on advancing health equity. I am committed to working towards fostering inclusion, representation and belonging to achieve racial equity and justice. At its core, health equity research requires a commitment to activism and intentional focus on addressing racism as a fundamental cause of health disparities and inequities. As we are all members of translational science institutions committed to improving the health of all communities, it is so important for all of us to find the time to engage and give space for these critical dialogues to foster change, activism and advocacy. Health equity research requires blending activism with research methods.

What are three takeaways you hope the pilot group of participants will have from the Cohorts for Change series?

1. Focus change at the systems-level and not individual level to address the root causes of inequities.

2. Identify and implement anti-racism and /racially equitable solutions that are grounded in the experiences of communities of color.

3. Commit to collecting results-based metrics and goals along with processes to track and monitor progress and sustain change.

You will know the pilot of the Cohorts for Change Anti-Racism Workshop series was successful when…Participants move from just recognizing the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion to an action stage where they are investing the time, energy, resources and commitment to implement anti-racism policies and protocols.