Health Equity and the Built Environment: Engaging New Allies in Planning a Healthy City

This three-session webinar series is focused on the concept that "place matters"—that the physical environment can protect against or exacerbate health inequities. The series will center on the intersection of design, planning, community development, and public health, as well as the consequences of different urban design approaches on health equity. It will help people "see" their surroundings and their relationship to health with new eyes, as well as provide resources and tools for increased participation of community leaders and “non-designer” professionals in the urban design process. The series’ intended results include creating a cadre of professionals in relevant sectors who gain insight into how the built environment intersects with issues of safety, access to healthy lifestyles, and a community’s overall physical, mental and emotional health. The webinars will also provide participants with sample resources and steps to become engaged or engage others in the urban design process.
Who should attend: Community leaders and professionals in the fields of public health, healthcare, government, urban planning, design, transportation, education, and others who are seeking (1) a more comprehensive understanding of the urban planning–health equity relationship to provide input and ideas in the urban design process; and (2) essential skills in the theory and practice of community engagement.
Cost: Free

Support provided by In partnership with

Past Webinars in the series

October 18, 2017 (Wednesday)
1:00pm–2:00 pm (EST)
How to See Health + Space: Urban Design for Non-Designers (see below)
June 7, 2017 (Wednesday)
1:00pm–2:00 pm (EST)
Past Webinars

Strategies for urban designers to engage local communities
October 18, 2017 (Wednesday)
1:00pm–2:00 pm (EST)

This webinar will address urban designers and other professionals on the importance of early, sustained and genuine engagement with local communities—residents, business owners, neighborhood organizations and leaders—to understand their history, dynamics and unique needs, challenges and opportunities. Health Equity Initiative will share its expertise on effective strategies to engage and empower communities to meaningfully participate in planning their community and shaping a vision for their future. Additionally, a successful urban design project will be explored to understand barriers to productive participation and ways to overcome them.

Participants will:

  • Discuss the importance and benefits of authentic community engagement in urban design
  • List strategies for community engagement
  • Identify barriers and roadblocks to community engagement
  • Discuss strategies to overcome obstacles to successful community participation


This webinar will employ three case studies to demonstrate community engagement strategies in successful and innovative urban design projects. Speakers from relevant organizations, both national and international, that serve the health needs of vulnerable communities through urban design will share their experiences advocating at the community level and promoting communal ownership and action.

Participants will:

  • Learn about real world examples of urban design and its relation to health equity
  • Gain an understanding of community engagement in various settings and across various determinants of health


How to See Health + Space: Urban Design for Non-Designers
June 7, 2017 (Wednesday)
1:00pm–2:00 pm (EST)

Intended for community leaders and professionals in the fields of public health, healthcare, government, design, transportation, and others, this webinar emphasized the link between urban design and health equity, and discussed the basics of the process of urban design as well as tools and knowledge that may help non-designers identify health promoting and impeding facets of the built environment, and participate more actively in the urban design process.

Participant goals:

  • Learn basic information on the process of urban design
  • Discuss methodologies to observe the existing physical environment and assess potential needs and barriers to health equity
  • Identify resources and opportunities for better understanding and engagement in the urban design process
Julia D Day, Associate, Gehl 
Julia develops projects across design, policy and strategy and focuses on creating public spaces where people can engage with and shape their cities. She has worked with city governments and community leaders across North America and the UK to turn under-used roadbed into play space, to make walking and biking convenient, attractive and safe travel options, and to collect quantitative and qualitative data on things we value, such as sense of belonging, but that often are considered difficult to measure. With Gehl, she supports city leaders in creating initiatives where people are front and center in the design and city-making process. She has a Master's in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.
Helen Leung, Co-Executive Director, LA Más

Helen is the Co-Executive Director of LA-Más, an urban design non-profit that helps lower-income and underserved communities shape their growth through policy and architecture. Helen provides leadership in creating projects at LA-Más that are grounded in community need and policy potential.

Raised by working class, first generation Chinese parents, Helen has seen how a lack of infrastructure and investment can impact a community. With a passion towards redefining the intersection of community development and social equity, Helen is interested in minimizing the impacts of gentrification with opportunities for inclusive development. Currently, Helen is shaping LA-Más strategy in exploring how backyard homes can promote greater affordability, supporting small businesses holistically to compete and thrive in in changing neighborhoods, and creating low-cost, high-impact strategies to support pedestrians and public transit users

A native Angelino and urban planner, Helen has extensive policy and community-based experience working for former Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti. Her policy and program experience from a national lens is informed by her work with Living Cities, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and the White House under President Obama’s administration.

Helen serves on the Los Angeles East Area Planning Commission, the Community Advisory Board of Genesis LA, and the board of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective. Helen holds a master’s degree in public policy and urban planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Renata Schiavo, Founding President, Board of Directors, Health Equity Initiative


Racism? Barriers to Health Equity? Communicating Health Equity
A Conversation with Dr. Dwayne Proctor of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Dr. Dwayne Proctor shared what the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has discovered about communicating health equity to diverse audiences. Attendees heard and were invited to comment on framing message to engage broad and diverse constituencies. The webinar was moderated by HEI's Founding President, Dr. Renata Schiavo.

When: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 - 1:00 -2:00 pm EST


Implementing Systems-Level Change for Health Equity: Recommendations and Call to Action from Health Equity Initiative's 2016 Summit

This webinar included a discussion and Q&A on the recommendations and call to action that emerged from Health Equity Initiative's first-of-its kind 2016 summit, Implementing Systems-Level Change for Health Equity: A Partnership Summit. Drawing upon the input and participation of the nearly 115 U.S. and international community leaders, students, and professionals from the fields of community development, public health, healthcare, faith, housing, urban design, architecture, information technology, nonprofit, academia, philanthropy, among others, the summit report and recommendations has implications for health equity, community development, and everyone's ability to thrive and prosper. This webinar was moderated by HEI Board Member and Co-Chair, Public Policy and Membership Committees, Friso van Reseema, MPH, with speakers including HEI Founding President, Renata Schiavo, PhD, MA, and HEI Board Member, Lenore Cooney

When: Thursday, September 22, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (EDT)

Who should attend: Community leaders, professionals, and students from the fields of public health, healthcare, global health, social innovation, transportation, community development, urban design, education, information technology, government, philanthropy, communication, advertising, corporate, nonprofit, academia, and many others sectors and disciplines.


Addressing Health Disparities: Population Health and the Value Proposition (recorded webinar)

Addressing Health Disparities webinar screenshotAchieving health equity in clinical settings requires collaborative efforts among different stakeholders, communities, and professional sectors that contribute to efficient health systems, so that together we can successfully implement best practices that increase equity in quality of care. This webinar was designed to provide a common understanding about best practices to address health disparities as well as diverse perspectives about how participants can work within their institutions and communities to catalyze action around health disparities.

The webinar discussed approaches, models, and case studies to building capacity and spurring the systems changes needed to address health disparities in a coordinated way. Health Equity Initiative's Founding President, Dr. Renata Schiavo, was joined by Distinguished Guest Speaker Dr. Kenneth Smith, Director of Community Development and Health Policy; and Interim Director, Center to Eliminate Health Disparities, University of Texas Medical Branch.

This webinar attracted 90+ registrants and was recorded on October 21, 2015.

Watch the recorded webinar:

COST: Free
Login to Health Equity Initiative's Members-Only Center to access the webinar


COST: $10

Click here to register


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