For Derek Jennings, Quapaw and Sac and Fox, improving health equity among Indigenous people starts by building strong relationships with their communities. Jennings, an assistant professor in health systems and population health, is the University of Washington School of Public Health’s inaugural associate dean for Indigenous affairs and engagement. This position reflects SPH’s recommitment to authentic engagement with Tribal communities, introducing Indigenous ways of knowing into work within the School to create a more supportive and robust community for Native faculty, staff and students in the health sciences at the UW. Jennings envisions his new role as helping to build these meaningful connections and create space for Indigenous thoughts, ideas and people within our institutions.
UW SPH sat down with Jennings to learn more about his thoughts on how to improve Indigenous health equity, what he hopes to accomplish in his new role, and the importance of including Indigenous health in research and training for our future public health work force.