Moment of Reckoning

Man wearing mask bandana

This is the year everything changed. A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, made its way to every corner of the planet, bringing an ever-mounting toll of illness and death as it transformed everyday life in ways previously unthinkable. And beginning in May, people in every part of the U.S. — and many parts outside it — donned masks and took to the streets in protest of the systemic racism that allowed the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others before them.

But make no mistake: These historic events did not occur in a vacuum. Public health experts have known a pandemic like COVID-19 was inevitable, and had warned of the perils of failing to support the public health infrastructure necessary for a proper response. The uprising following the latest police killings was in fact a long-overdue confrontation with the structural racism that has infected American society for centuries — with vast implications for the health and well-being of Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

So in one sense, this is the year everything changed. But 2020 might better be framed as the year historic developments forced a moment of reckoning with our inadequate investment in public health and failure to dismantle the foundations of a society built on racism. At a moment when we face two public health crises, the following pages highlight some of the ways Fielding School faculty, students, alumni, and staff are making a difference.


Ron Brookmeyer, PhD


Haroutune K. Armenian, MD, DrPH Professor-in-Residence, Epidemiology; Thomas R. Belin, PhD Professor, Biostatistics; Pamina Gorbach, DrPH Professor, Epidemiology; Moira Inkelas, PhD Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management; Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, PhD, MN Professor Emerita, Community Health Sciences; Cathy Lang, PhD Director for Research Administration; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences; Michael Prelip, DPA Professor and Chair, Community Health Sciences; Beate Ritz, PhD Professor, Epidemiology and Environmental Health Sciences; May C. Wang, DrPH Professor, Community Health Sciences; Elizabeth Yzquierdo, EdD Assistant Dean for Student Affairs; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Community Health Sciences; Zuo-Feng Zhang, MD, PhD Associate Dean for Research; Professor, Epidemiology; Yifang Zhu, PhD Associate Dean for Academic Programs; Professor, Environmental Health Sciences; Frederick Zimmerman, PhD Professor, Health Policy and Management; Lori S. Pelliccioni, JD, MPH '96, PhD '02 President, Public Health Alumni Association


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