Division of Health Equity & Social Justice:
Lita Wills - Commissioner

In November 2020, Cleveland City Council introduced legislation to create the Division of Health Equity & Social Justice (HESJ) within the Cleveland Department of Public Health. The HESJ Division focuses on finding solutions to health inequities and disparities. The root causes of health inequities are systematic social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that affect groups of people. Health inequities are unfair and avoidable differences in health status and include outcomes such as rates of chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, life expectancy, likelihood of incarceration, and economic disparities.

HESJ Mission: To improve the health outcomes and the overall quality of life and to remove barriers to resources in order to create thriving neighborhoods and a thriving city.

HESJ Vision: We envision a city where:
  1. Health equity and social justice are the foundation of all policy, decision-making practices, and allocation of resources.
  2. Diverse residents, community partners and employees are engaged, heard, and involved in decision-making.
  3. Collaboration and partnerships work to meet the emerging needs of the community.
Social Determinants of Health:
Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are conditions in the places people live, learn, work and play that affect a wide variety of health and quality of life risks and outcomes. Investing resources in quality of life can significantly improve health outcomes. The SDOH framework focuses on five domains.
  1. Education Access and Quality
  2. Economic Stability
  3. Social and Community Context
  4. Neighborhood and Built Environment
  5. Healthcare Access and Quality

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HESJ Programs and Areas of Focus:
The HESJ Division focuses on three distinct areas of work.

CDPH Public Health Services: The following programs are designed to increase equity and improve health outcomes and disparities caused by structural racism.

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Internal to City of Cleveland Government:
The Interdepartmental Equity Team (IET) consists of representatives across city government departments concentrating on dismantling inequitable outcomes in practices, policies, procedures, and services.

External: Racism as a Public Health Crisis Coalition (RAPHC-C) is a public private partnership between the City of Cleveland, community leaders, and residents. The coalition was formed to develop a framework or strategic plan to address racism and its impacts in the City of Cleveland.

Currently, RAPHC-C has an executive committee, a steering committee, and five pillar teams, each made up of two co-chairs and community members. The five pillar teams align with the SDOH domains.
HESJ Staff:

Lita Wills, Commissioner
(216) 664-2677

Brett Grosel, Assistant Administrator
(216) 420-7643

Lydia Hill, Project Coordinator
(216) 664-7070

Sara Tillie, Policy Research Analyst
(216) 664-4361