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I-HOPE Program Director & Senior Director of Health Equity Initiatives for Purdue

Holly Wood

Holly Wood serves as Senior Director for Purdue's Health Equity Initiatives, reporting to the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE) and serving on Purdue's Health Equity Initiatives team led by Executive Director Dr. Jerome Adams.

In her dual role, Holly oversees implementation of Indiana Healthy Opportunities for Everyone (I-HOPE), an initiative in partnership with the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) that addresses the effects of health disparities. With the aim of bringing the community voice back to campus and amplifying it nationally through Dr. Adam’s framework, she interfaces with faculty to raise interest in health equity projects; coordinates the Purdue Health Equity Council; drives health equity funding applications; gathers and provides the latest health equity data/information to better inform faculty work; and connects individuals across campus whose roles address diversity, equity and inclusion.

Holly became interested in community health early in her career through public health work in rural Indiana that tasked her with developing plans to address public health access during disaster scenarios, including global pandemics. She successfully oversaw the annual training and exercise to anticipate regional surge capacity in two counties in partnership with the IDOH and other partners. She helped counties with policy and practice improvement plans following the H1N1 pandemic of 2009.  

Holly transitioned from the local to state levels of public health when she served as a Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) subject-matter expert at the IDOH Division of Fatality Review and Prevention. In this role, Holly oversaw all SUID prevention efforts in Indiana and partnered with healthcare and social service agencies to reach families at highest risk. Disparity in the rate of infants dying from preventable causes (black infants at four times the rate of white infants) was the catalyst that began Holly's passion for health equity. She advocated for changes in programming and outreach with a focus on the voice of the communities most impacted by preventable infant death; led the charge to move from a centralized, statewide model of strategy development to a localized approach through the creation of Community Action Teams; and challenged resource allocation with the intent of making resources available not equally but equitably.

Prior to coming to Purdue, Holly served as a subject-matter expert in mitigating secondary childhood trauma through the implementation of a framework known as Handle with Care, which has been used throughout the U.S. to provide a feedback loop between first responders and school systems in order to give children grace during their school day, especially when they have been at the scene of a potentially traumatic event. Alongside her employment at PHA, Holly stays engaged with state and local partners in order to continue to continue to develop trauma-informed resiliency in one Indiana community.

Holly graduated from Indiana State University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and minor in criminology. She is a third year doctoral student in Guidance and Psychological Services with a Specialization in School Psychology.

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