Center announces new co-directors

Co-directors Sarah and Jill with Masks
Co-directors Sarah and Jill with Masks
Sarah Davis and Jill Jacklitz, standing together but apart at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

In the midst of seismic shocks to health care, education, the economy, and society, we welcome new co-directors Sarah Davis and Jill Jacklitz.
With their leadership, the Center will continue to advance health justice, addressing deep inequities in our health care and social services systems. This shared leadership model highlights our interdisciplinary approach.

Davis and Jacklitz bring a steady foundation to leadership. Since 2005, Davis has served as associate director of the Center and has advanced in her clinical professorship. Last year, Sarah was instrumental in the LIFT Dane team winning an unprecedented investment in Civil Legal Justice Reform from Schmidt Futures.

Jacklitz, the Center’s education director since 2015, came to CPP with extensive policy advocacy and nonprofit leadership experience from more than a decade with policy advocacy organization Kids Forward and from her leadership in community services at Group Health Cooperative of Southwest Wisconsin. Jill has grown our popular Resource Navigator Program, where undergraduates work with local primary care clients to access helpful resources, expanding it to include a legal services component.

Together, they lead with deep experience across interprofessional teaching, advocacy, national leadership, system change and community engagement, seamlessly following in the footsteps of our founding director, Meg Gaines – a pioneer in the field of patient advocacy – who retired April 1.

Health Justice is a priority. Over the past two decades, our work with community partners and our research repeatedly demonstrates the need for a focus on health justice. COVID-19 now sweeps the country, exposing deep wounds and scars of racism and inequity, worsening already disparate health outcomes. Long before COVID-19 became a household word, Center staff and students recognized stark inequities underlying patients’ experiences, community conditions, and the systems driving health care access and quality. Now, facing new layers of uncertainty, patients face delayed treatment; job and benefits loss; and medical bills for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

Our response is multi-faceted: we are deepening our system change work regarding inequities and addressing COVID issues front and center for patients; we are participating in an international study of patients’ experiences with COVID; and we are adapting our (now remote) navigator and advocacy services to meet client’s pressing needs.

Effective collaboration is the way forward. Partnership and interdisciplinary teaming fuel the Center’s core mission. Partnerships between patients, providers, researchers and policymakers can transform our healthcare system. Collaborative, adaptive leadership skills will prove essential in any path to a more equitable future. Our co-leadership structure allows us to share expertise and invite multiple perspectives to solve the problems we face together.

Amplifying patients’ voices ensures responsive policies. Patients are at the core of our work. Through our National Initiatives, we use rigorous qualitative research to understand patients’ diverse experiences. Since system change is best informed by the people most impacted, we partner with patients to influence health policy and practices. Through our service learning approach, patients are part of the teaching team sharing the patient perspective of how we value health and deliver healthcare in America.

Students learn best through modeling and immersive experience. Our leadership structure matters. For many students, the Center represents one of the first professional environments where they practice the skills and approaches of their chosen professions. As we track the careers of our alums, we know that our leadership training translates into practice. Take Maureen Atwell, executive director for Hebron Housing Services, who moved into the homeless shelter she runs during this crisis.

With your partnership, the Center for Patient Partnerships is building on a solid platform. Welcome Jill and Sarah!

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