Improving Public Health by Utilizing a Systems Change Lens

JPHMP Editor-in-chief Lloyd Novick speaks with Kristina Y. Risley and Christina R. Welter about best practices for enacting change at different levels while describing the factors, processes, skills, and tools required for leading complex change. 

We live in an increasingly complex world. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, deepening racial, health, and social inequities have only accentuated this complexity. More than a traditional behavioral change approach is needed to address systemic challenges. Creating genuine, effective, equitable, and lasting change in our systems and institutions requires that we expand who we involve and how we think to ask questions that get to the root of problems and lead to solutions that work for everyone — especially those who are most impacted by our systems.

Leading Systems Change in Public HealthWritten for public health practitioners and partners, Leading Systems Change in Public Health: A Field Guide for Practitioners provides an inclusive process and framework with tools for implementing change that leads to transformation. This comprehensive resource translates academic and practice experiences into a roadmap that is approachable and easy to use, regardless of where you or your institution are on the journey to change. Leading Systems Change also features real-life public health systems change initiatives that apply concepts explored in the book.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with two of the book’s editors, Kristina Risley and Christina Welter. 

Kristina Risley

Kristina Y. Risley, DrPH, CPCC, is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Kris Risley Coaching. She has served the public health field in this role since being certified with the Co-Active Coaching Institute in 2004. Dr. Risley earned her DrPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also has a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology; she has a sincere interest in the intersection of human and public health workforce development.

Christina Welter

Christina R. Welter, DrPH, MPH is a nationally recognized policy practitioner, visionary leader, and practice-based researcher committed to helping organizations and communities co-create equity-centered systems change. She is the Director of the Doctorate in Public Health Leadership Program and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health. Dr. Welter’s scholarship focuses on mixed-method participatory action research and evaluation approaches to understand and address the structural determinants of health; facilitate learning, leadership development, and power building for structural change; and drive policy and systems change toward racial and economic justice.

Listen to the Podcast:

Author Profile

Lloyd F. Novick
Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Public Health at the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University. Previously, he was chair of this Department. He has served as the Commissioner of Health and Secretary for Human Services of Vermont, Director of Health Services for Arizona, and Director of the Office of Public Health for New York State. Previous academic positions include Professor and Director of the Preventive Medicine Program for SUNY Upstate Medical University, Professor and Chair of Epidemiology at the University of Albany School of Public Health, and Clinical Professor and Director of the Teaching Program in Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Vermont, College of Medicine. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. He is also editor of five books, including Public Health Administration: Principles for Population-Based Management; Public Health Issues in Disaster Preparedness; Community-Based Prevention Programs that Work; Public Health Leaders Tell Their Stories; and Health Problems in the Prison Setting. He is past president of the Association of Teachers of Prevention and Research (APTR) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). He has received a number of national awards, including Special Recognition Award, American College of Preventive Medicine (2005); Duncan Clark Award, Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine (2003); Yale University Distinguished Service Award (2003); Excellence in Health Administration, American Public Health Association (2001); and the Arthur T. McCormack Award, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (1992). He is a graduate of Colgate University (BA), New York University (MD), and Yale University (MPH).

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