Founded in 1971, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is an independent, science-based consumer advocacy organization with a record of accomplishments and a clear and ambitious agenda for improving the food system to support healthy eating. While we are proud about the impact our wins have made, we are aware that our policies and practices have historically not sufficiently centered health equity. This awareness motivated us to invest in organizational change work related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in recent years. As part of the process, we received organization-wide training and leadership coaching, and elicited two sets of organizational assessments from external health equity stakeholders. The reports were robust and provided a candid assessment of opportunities to grow or expand our health equity impact.
I co-led this work after my promotion to be CSPI’s first Senior Health Equity Advisor in May 2021. Since then, I have worked across the organization to build our internal capacity to operationalize this important work externally. I am inspired by the progress we have made, and honest about how far we must go on our journey. In my role, I have encountered a commitment to bold positions at every level of the organization. Our Equity and Justice Vision Statement is another example of CSPI’s dedication to advancing health equity. Our framework seeks to center those most burdened by racialized systems of oppression because we recognize a shift away from paternalistic, top-down approaches is needed to create meaningful social change. Furthermore, a racial equity and justice framework equips us with an intersectional lens that is applicable to all socially stratifying identities. It also enables us to pursue a broad portfolio of work to address health disparities.
Although we are early in our journey, we have made several internal changes, including hiring a DEI director for the first time, developing organizational resources and prioritizing the voices of stakeholders most burdened by the outcomes we seek to impact. The progress we have made does not mask the work we have left to do, and we are excited about the opportunity to continue to grow and improve to better serve consumers of all backgrounds.