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Health equity and diversity champion recognized by state/national public health association and OSU

Associate professor and public health rising star Jonathan Garcia brought home three awards in 2021 for his leadership and work advancing health equity and inclusiveness in public health research, teaching and practice.

Jonathan Garcia

By Kathryn Stroppel

Jonathan Garcia joined the Oregon State University faculty in 2015 as one of four hires in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS) funded by the Provost’s Initiative on Student Success through the lens of equity, inclusion and diversity (EID). Hired for his expertise in community-engaged learning and research, Jonathan implemented a comprehensive plan designed to advance the academic success of both undergraduate and graduate students specifically through an EID lens.

Because of his outstanding achievements in this area, he received the Diversity Research Award from the OSU Office of Institutional Diversity and Research Office in 2019 and the OSU Outstanding Diversity Advocate Award in 2021. Also in 2021, he received the ASPPH early career excellence in teaching award and the Oregon Public Health Association’s Health Equity Champion Award.

“Jonathan is a champion whose works have and continue to ensure opportunities for all as they live, learn, work and play,” says Associate Dean for Research S. Marie Harvey. “He creates a welcoming and supportive climate through his student-centered teaching philosophy, and he uses a variety of innovative tools to reach students with various learning styles, which include Edward de Bono’s six thinking styles and a mix of lectures, video clips, facilitated discussions, student presentations of assigned readings, individual reflection and/or small-group activities.

“Jonathan also excels in mentoring students and gives generously of his time and talents. He brings his EID lens to assist students with research projects and to identify career paths that advance social justice and eliminate health disparities. Through his educational and mentoring contributions, he has fostered health equity within the public health community and has encouraged diverse perspectives and voices into our public health work.”

In addition to his record of success in educating and mentoring students in the CPHHS, Jonathan has reached beyond the university to provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged youth in Oregon. He is engaged in a three-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to apply strategies that he developed in Peru and Brazil to combat social isolation and bullying against LGBTQ+ youth of color who participated in 4-H outreach programs in Oregon. The Engaging the Next Latinx Allies for Change and Equity (ENLACE) Program fosters an environment in which youth with intersectional identities create solidarity to combat diverse forms of social isolation and oppression.

Using a participatory, video-based approach, this positive youth development program engages Oregon Latinx youth to become leaders in their communities and encourages them to obtain a college education. Specifically, Jonathan used these opportunities to engage a 45-member community advisory board that included LGBTQ+ Latinx youth, 4-H youth, 4-H parents and health care providers specializing in LGBTQ+ health. He funded 10 LGBTQ+ youth to develop five telenovel-style films focused on bullying, self-harm, community building and access to health services. This work was implemented in partnership with the nonprofit organization Outside the Frame, which trains homeless and marginalized youth to be directors of their own films and lives.

In addition to his research, teaching and community outreach, Jonathan’s service contributions focus on achieving health equity. He co-chaired the Sexual and Reproductive Health Equity Consortium and served on the OSU Leadership Council for Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice and on the CPHHS Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Because of his dedication to his community, he served on the Oregon Viral Hepatitis Action Plan Steering Committee and assisted in integrating actions and SMART objectives for community-based organizations and the Oregon Health Authority. He also is an active member of both the American Public Health Association and the Oregon Public Health Association. Internationally, he served on the Advisory Board for the South American Program on HIV Prevention Research in Peru and on the advisory council at Swasti Health Catalyst in India.

“Jonathan will continue to make significant contributions to the profession,” Marie says. “His efforts and achievements will build the nation’s capacity for innovation, leadership and action to promote equity, diversity and inclusion throughout Oregon and beyond.”

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