Improving Public Health by Utilizing a Systems Change Lens – JPHMP Direct


Posted on  by Lloyd F. Novick

JPHMP Editor-in-chief Lloyd Novick speaks with Kristina Y. Risley and Christina R. Welter about best practices for enacting change at different levels while describing the factors, processes, skills, and tools required for leading complex change. 

We live in an increasingly complex world. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, deepening racial, health, and social inequities have only accentuated this complexity. More than a traditional behavioral change approach is needed to address systemic challenges. Creating genuine, effective, equitable, and lasting change in our systems and institutions requires that we expand who we involve and how we think to ask questions that get to the root of problems and lead to solutions that work for everyone — especially those who are most impacted by our systems.

Leading Systems Change in Public Health

Written for public health practitioners and partners, Leading Systems Change in Public Health: A Field Guide for Practitioners provides an inclusive process and framework with tools for implementing change that leads to transformation. This comprehensive resource translates academic and practice experiences into a roadmap that is approachable and easy to use, regardless of where you or your institution are on the journey to change. Leading Systems Change also features real-life public health systems change initiatives that apply concepts explored in the book.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with two of the book’s editors, Kristina Risley and Christina Welter. 

Kristina Risley

Kristina Y. Risley, DrPH, CPCC, is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Kris Risley Coaching. She has served the public health field in this role since being certified with the Co-Active Coaching Institute in 2004. Dr. Risley earned her DrPH in Maternal and Child Health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She also has a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology; she has a sincere interest in the intersection of human and public health workforce development.

Christina Welter

Christina R. Welter, DrPH, MPH is a nationally recognized policy practitioner, visionary leader, and practice-based researcher committed to helping organizations and communities co-create equity-centered systems change. She is the Director of the Doctorate in Public Health Leadership Program and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health. Dr. Welter’s scholarship focuses on mixed-method participatory action research and evaluation approaches to understand and address the structural determinants of health; facilitate learning, leadership development, and power building for structural change; and drive policy and systems change toward racial and economic justice.