This week, the Bush Foundation awarded School of Public Health (SPH) associate professor Rachel Hardeman a 2021 Bush Fellowship. Hardeman is a nationally known reproductive health equity researcher and Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity.
Bush fellows come from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, or one of the 23 Native nations in those regions. They are from all backgrounds and walks of life, including CEOs of major companies as well as those who are young in their careers. The foundation chooses fellows for their accomplishments, commitment to inclusivity, and potential to do even more for their communities. The fellows receive up to $100,000 to use for education and experiences they choose to become more effective and equitable leaders.
“I am honored that the Bush Foundation has chosen to invest in me as a leader,” says Hardeman. “I seek to manifest racial justice through my research and leadership at the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, and the Bush Fellowship will offer the time and resources I need to pursue formal leadership training that will allow me to cultivate a larger platform as a change agent.”
Hardeman explores and exposes structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. She joins with community partners to more deeply understand entrenched issues, as she did with Roots Community Birth Center in North Minneapolis to tackle adverse birth outcomes for Black mothers and babies. Early in her career, her New England Journal of Medicine article challenged researchers and the medical community to take an active role in confronting racism. Recently, Hardeman received a major NIH grant to develop and test the Multidimensional Measure of Structural Racism to gather quantitative data — rare in the field — about the effects of racism on health.
In February, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, donated $5 million dollars to SPH to establish the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity. Hardeman created the vision for the center and serves as its founding director. Antiracist research explores the systems and policies that keep people of color from being healthy rather than starting with the premise that there is something wrong with them that makes them sick. As well as fostering research, the center will develop education and training, encourage community engagement, be a community resource, and change the narrative about race and racism to one that does not hold up whiteness as the ideal standard for human beings.
For more on Rachel Hardeman’s work, see: