NACDD 2021 President’s Challenge Calls on States to Advance Racial Equity in Chronic Disease Programs


CONTACT: Paige Rohe,, 404-924-8295

ATLANTA (Jan. 28, 2021) – Today Dr. Susan Kansagra, National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Board President, announced her 2021 Board President’s Challenge, calling upon state chronic disease programs to redouble their efforts to dismantle structural racism through a greater focus on racial equity in chronic disease programs. Dr. Kansagra, a medical doctor and Chronic Disease Director for North Carolina, has provided all state and territorial Chronic Disease Directors with a guide, “Action Steps to Advance Racial Equity as a Core Component of State Chronic Disease Programs” that provides specific examples and activities to inform three areas of public health activity:

  • Increase staff knowledge about racial equity/racial justice and its connection to health outcomes in professional development;
  • Implement actions based on data related to racial inequities and chronic disease outcomes; and
  • Assess organizational policies and procedures using a race equity framework.

“We are seeing the devastating impact of persistent health inequities in our society unfold in this moment as we see COVID-19 hospitalization and case rates many times higher in Latinx, Black, and Native American/Indigenous communities,” said Dr. Kansagra. “Addressing the root causes of these disparities is necessary to make progress as a country and as a field of public health.”   

Established in 2016, the NACDD President’s Challenge is an annual project that the NACDD Board President develops to focus NACDD Member competency in an emerging or innovative issue in chronic disease prevention. Previous Presidents’ Challenges have focused on addressing the social determinants of health, exploring population health, and promoting health equity. The President’s Challenges have proven to be highly influential in public health, often leading the way for other organizations to consider and take on similar themes or topics in their own activities.

Additionally, the Association has long focused on closing racial disparities in health through chronic disease programs and through the Association’s Health Equity Council. Of recent note, in 2020, the Association added advancing racial equity to its organizational strategic plan and issued a statement calling upon public health organizations to commit to addressing racism as a public health issue.

Also in 2020, NACDD offered $25,000 grants to nine states to implement either of NACDD’s nationally recognized tools: Moving to Institutional Equity: A Tool to Address Racial Equity for Public Health Practitioners or the Health Equity at Work Assessment.

“Dr. Kansagra’s call to action is visionary and absolutely necessary to continue the momentum for public health to advance racial equity,” said NACDD CEO John W. Robitscher, MPH. “We will continue to support and bolster her voice and the voice of all public health professionals who can help guide our field to greater justice and equity.”

Additional information about states’ commitments to anti-racism as well as the Association’s other health and racial equity work is available on NACDD’s website,


The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

Promoting Health. Preventing Disease.

The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and its more than 7,000 Members seek to strengthen state-based leadership and expertise for chronic disease prevention and control in states and nationally. Established in 1988, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NACDD is the only membership association of its kind to serve and represent every chronic disease division in all states and U.S. territories. For more information, visit

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