“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde
Welcome. Our team serves as the central coordinators of School of Public Health (SPH) diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. We are committed to centering the marginalized and helping historically oppressed communities become healthier. We serve the SPH community in providing education, advocacy, planning, and support in the areas of DEI. We help SPH realize and operationalize school values.
When we talk about diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism at SPH, these are the common definitions we use.
Who We Are
Lauren L. Jones
Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Read more about Lauren
Lauren Jones is the director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Lauren has worked at SPH since 2017. She believes in speaking truth to power and centering the marginalized. Lauren provides leadership and oversight for the DEI activities across the school, including strategic planning and implementation, training, and programming. She helps the school to operationalize its values by working with administrators, faculty, staff, students, and alumni. She has a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University, a master’s degree from Old Dominion University, and is working on a PhD at the University of Minnesota. Lauren is a native Chicagoan and currently lives in Minneapolis with her dog, Jinx.
Gayle Smaller Jr.
Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
Read more about Gayle
Gayle received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Gayle was born in Minneapolis and is the first in his family to receive a bachelor’s degree and/or a master’s degree. Prior to coming to the U of M, Gayle served at Augsburg University, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, most recently, as an academic advisor in the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Program in the U of M College of Liberal Arts here. Gayle is passionate about equity, justice and the development and utilization of human potential. You can sometimes find him performing poems or trying to inspire someone to be their best self.
She/Her/Hers/Ella (en español)
Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Community Engagement
Read more about Andrea
Andrea Pérez-Maikkula is a multilingual global health professional and DEI practitioner with fifteen years of experience in intercultural facilitation, community engagement, and community development, particularly in Haiti, where she’s focused her work in ecological sanitation.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Andrea studied Business Law and Music Business at the University of Miami. In her early 20s, she founded a non-profit organization that focused on co-creating sustainable projects that contribute to social justice.
Prior to moving to Minnesota in the fall of 2014, Andrea spent the summer in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where she worked with a street clinic providing free healthcare to sex workers and folks experiencing homelessness.
Andrea was a speaker at the first TEDxSanJuan event in Puerto Rico, has a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Puerto Rico, is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking Puerto Rican food. Andrea lives in Brooklyn Park with her husband and two sons.
Notes on Antiracism, Justice & Equity
Includes thought-provoking articles, profiles, resources, and events at the school.
What We Do
- Training and facilitation for faculty, staff, and students on DEI topics
- Consulting with units and individuals on issues related to DEI
- Coordinating events that focus on issues of justice, equity, advocacy, and liberation
- Providing advocacy and support for those with concerns of bias and discrimination
- Assessing and consulting for the purposes of climate change
- Developing and implementing policy and procedures related to DEI
SPH DEI Groups
Groups & Committees
- Action Alignment Team
The SPH diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) Action Alignment Team is the central organizing group for diversity, equity, and inclusion in SPH.
- Diversity Network
Diversity Network is an SPH community-building student organization that focuses on cultivating personal and professional development in DEI. This is an inclusive space that brings together students to engage in conversation, vent, and learn from each other. Additionally, Diversity Network is involved in social programming and collaboration with the SPH Student Senate to improve the student experience.
- EDIT (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Team)
The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Team (EDIT) is an SPH initiative open to all students, faculty, and staff, whose primary mission is to proactively increase awareness around equity and diversity while building a more inclusive community by working together to host events and facilitate challenging conversations.
- Strategic DEI Planning Committee
Education & Research
- Health Equity Work Group
The mission of the SPH Health Equity Work Group is to give greater visibility to health inequalities research at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and nationally; develop collaborations with faculty and community partners; and ensure SPH students are well trained to work in a diverse society.