When Erin Lee, a recent Master’s in Public Health (Health Services) recipient from the University of Washington (UW), proposed her master’s project, her thesis chair was extremely supportive but cautioned that the scope of work was ambitious for a two-year program. Lee was undeterred. Her passion for addressing maternal and child health inequities was her fuel. In her words, “It is high time to turn the tide, and make Black women’s health a priority.”
Lee’s research project aimed to gain a better understanding of the motivations and experiences of community-based doulas through a qualitative study. She developed an interview protocol and began interviewing doulas who worked at a local nonprofit organization, Open Arms Perinatal Services (OAPS). Her research goals were to demonstrate the improvement in care patients received through community-based doulas and identify ways to advocate for organizations like OAPS that improve public health by reducing racial disparities in health outcomes.
In addition to her research, Lee spent time volunteering at SURGE Reproductive Justice, a nonprofit in Washington State focused on ending reproductive oppression for all. While there, Lee initiated a doula program for incarcerated people. “I am a Black woman, born from a Black woman, raised by a Black woman,” she said. “At the core of why I chose to go into public health is because of my intersecting identities as a Black woman…I understand what it means to not be seen and not be heard.” To learn more about Erin’s work, visit the University of Washington website.