Leadership Statement

Announcing Center for Health Equity Executive Director, 2-20-24

Dear students, faculty and staff,

We are pleased to announce that Deborah Parra-Medina, PhD, MPH, has been named inaugural Executive Director of the Center for Health Equity at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, a role she officially began on January 1. With more than 25 years of research and program development work in disease prevention and public health promotion among diverse populations, Dr. Parra-Medina brings a distinctive skill set and perspective to the helm as we launch our center.

The Center for Health Equity is a vital and long-anticipated addition to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, created to address inequities in health and access to care here in Aurora and far beyond. Initially founded in fall 2021, the center was established to advance community health and well-being by addressing structural sources of inequity and creating opportunities through learning, service, research and advocacy. The Center for Health Equity will work in close collaboration with the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Community Engagement and the Aurora Wellness Community, in partnership with local communities. 

Dr. Parra-Medina is an epidemiologist by training, and she has dedicated her career to advancing public health and addressing health disparities through collaborative research spanning rural, urban and border settings. She has an extensive background in community-based research and health promotion, as well as chronic disease prevention and control interventions with underserved communities including women, youth, Latinos, immigrants and economically disadvantaged populations. 

She served most recently as director of the Latino Research Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also served as endowed chair and professor of Mexican American and Latina/o studies. Before joining UT Austin, she served as a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. A California native, she holds a PhD in epidemiology from the University of California San Diego and a master’s degree in public health from San Diego State University.

The Center for Health Equity has been made a reality through the collaboration of many faculty, staff and community partners, and we are grateful to Regina Richards, PhD, MSW, and Mark Earnest, MD, for co-leading its development. We thank Shale Wong, MD, MSPH, and Eli Provencio-Vasquez, PhD, RN, for co-chairing the search committee for our first center director, and members of the Center for Health Equity steering committee and community advisory board for their dedication to this endeavor. More information about Dr. Parra-Medina and the Center for Health Equity is available here.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Parra-Medina to the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. We are eager for all that the Center for Health Equity will make possible as we work together to advance community health and well-being.


Don Elliman

John J. Reilly, Jr., MD
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, School of Medicine

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