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About

“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. Eldridge
She/Her/Hers
Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
612-624-9970
leldridg@umn.edu

Read more about Lauren

Lauren Eldridge is the associate 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. Lauren has been at the school since 2017. She has a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree from Old Dominion University. Lauren is a native Chicagoan and currently lives in Minneapolis with her dog, Jinx.

Gayle Smaller Jr.
He/him/his
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator
smaller@umn.edu

Read more about Gayle

Gayle Smaller Jr. is the coordinator of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will begin this new role on Nov. 2, 2020. 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.

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

Recent Messages

“There isn’t a single leader, faculty member, staff person, or student in this school who doesn’t have something to learn and to contribute toward shaping ourselves into better people in an increasingly diverse world.”

–John Finnegan, SPH Professor and Dean

SPH DEI Groups

Groups & Committees

  • Action Alignment Team
  • 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.
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