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Meet the New Health Equity Community Health Planner, Nupoor Kulkarni!

Staff Perspective Nupoor Kulkarni

Dear Get Healthy SMC partners,

The fight for health equity and racial justice is my priority as a public health professional, which is why I am so excited to be joining the Health Equity Team within Health, Policy, and Planning (HPP) as a Community Health Planner! I admire the County’s commitment to equity and am excited to be a part of Get Healthy SMC’s efforts to ensure healthy, equitable communities. In my role as Community Health Planner, I will work on enhancing our internal organizational equity infrastructure through internal and community trainings, developing equity action plans and tools, and engaging in cross-sectoral partnerships.

Public health was my entry point to what equity means—centering and uplifting communities and peoples harmed by historical and systemic oppression and injustice. It also means “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable”. Equity work can be heavy; it requires vulnerability and humility in order to move the needle towards a more just world.

In my prior role at Kaiser Permanente, a colleague and I started an Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression workgroup in our department to prioritize and integrate equity into our department processes and workforce opportunities, and to center Black, indigenous, people of color, and other oppressed groups in our healthcare services and delivery. I collaborated with our workgroup to conduct a departmental needs assessment, craft proposals to address barriers to equity, and create a curriculum on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression for our department. From this work, I learned how to develop and propose equity-centered strategies to uplift current healthcare delivery processes, navigate vulnerable yet incredibly important conversations, support staff at different places in their learning of equity, and create psychological safety for our BIPOC colleagues. This work has contributed to my passion to center communities at the intersections of oppression in policy, advocacy, and development of sustainable equity infrastructure.

Working towards equity can be emotionally taxing, but I think of Toni Morrison’s words, “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.” I hold onto her words as a reminder to apply my scholarship and skills to advocate for a present and future of collective care and safety. It is also a reminder that taking care of ourselves is community care. For me, it’s when I’m learning how to make pottery, laughing with loved ones, and chasing after sunsets. I look forward to learning from and collaborating with you to strengthen equity efforts to better serve our communities across the County of San Mateo.