County health department seeks diverse applicants for new steering committee

The Washtenaw County Health Department is seeking Washtenaw County applicants for a Steering Committee that will prioritize public health issues and take action to improve conditions that support health and wellbeing.


The health department hopes to find committee members who are diverse in age, race, socioeconomic status, gender, geography, and more. The committee will consist of 10-16 members. Applicants must be at least 15 years old and live or work in Washtenaw County.


"We really believe we need community voices at every step of the decision process, especially those most affected by health inequities," says Washtenaw County Health Department health officer Ellen Rabinowitz. "We want Washtenaw County residents to have every opportunity to live their healthiest life."


The Steering Committee is part of the health department’s community health assessment and planning process based on the Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) model. MAPP is a community-focused process that brings together a variety of people and organizational partners to evaluate the community and create change.


Rabinowitz says this new approach will place a large focus on health inequities, such as life expectancy rates that differ based on socioeconomic status.


"As we launch the next part of the process, we're inviting people most impacted by these inequities and inviting them to the decision table," Rabinowitz says. "We've always done surveys in the community, but now are more deeply engaged and looking to community for guidance."


Once selected, members will commit to participate in the Steering Committee for two years.


Rabinowitz says committee members' first duty will be to identify health issues they'd like to address in the community. Priority issues will be based in part on the department's health data on county residents. Initiatives implemented by the committee could range from policy development to cultivating more broad-based support from community organizations, Rabinowitz says.


The application is open until March 29. Community members can apply themselves or nominate someone else.


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at

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