Extension Educator honored with public health award recognizing work toward racial equity

Contact: Erin Rivera, 414-615-0537, erin.rivera@wisc.edu

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Milwaukee County Educator Lilliann Paine is part of a group recognized in May by the Wisconsin Public Health Association for framing racism as a public health crisis.

Paine, a Health and Well-Being Educator for the Extension Milwaukee County, is part of the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) Racial Equity Workgroup. The Workgroup received the Wisconsin Public Health Association’s 2019 Presidential Citation Award on May 21 at the group’s annual conference. The members were nominated by the President of WPHA, Elizabeth Giese, for outstanding work on the group’s Racial Equity resolution and the impact it had in framing racism as a public health crisis.

The WPHA Racial Equity resolution acknowledges the role racism causes in persistent racial discrimination in housing, education, employment and criminal justice – and those effects on health. The resolution prompted WPHA to work toward racial equity and advocate for policies that advance health in communities of color.

“The Resolution is the first step in operationalizing equity,” Paine said. “WHPA’s resolution is having a ripple effect on local public health and governmental leadership.”

In April, Milwaukee County leaders passed a resolution based on the WPHA resolution to declare racism a public health crisis. The City of Milwaukee Public Safety and Health Committee is considering a similar resolution.

“To quote one of my favorite black heroines of the civil rights Freedom Movement, Ella Baker, ‘Give light and people will find the way,'” said Paine. “I put a spotlight on something I thought was not fair or just, calling folks back in to the work of creating conditions and policies that lift up the minoritized and marginalized.”

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