Rutgers elects inaugural chair of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health
The former vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Federation of America now has a new job at the Rutgers School of Public Health — as the inaugural chair of the Department of Urban-Global Public Health.
Leslie Kantor was recently named to the position by the University. The Urban-Global Public Health program will launch this fall in Newark, according to a Rutgers Today article. In her previous position, she worked in sexual and reproductive health and advocated for underserved and marginalized populations.
“One of the most important aspects of public health is its approach to solving problems, which is to engage sincerely with communities to learn about challenges, priorities and solutions,” she said. “The key is partnering to understand problems and to work with individuals to develop solutions.”
Kantor has experience working in sex education and reproductive health for three decades. During her time at Planned Parenthood, she conducted research with 350 Black and Latino teens and parents that went on to aid the development of digital education tools for middle and high school students to reduce unintended pregnancy, according to the article. The materials have been used by more than 600,000 people.
Mentoring the diverse student body working on academic programs to address inequality are some of the things that Kantor looks forward to in her new position, she said.
“It’s also exciting that our department will be focusing on research, education and service in urban contexts around the world,” she said. “For example, we have just expanded our work through partnerships with schools in Athens, Greece and Dodoma, Tanzania, which will put our work here in a global context.”
Kantor said that technology will be key in addressing issues and informing the next generation of health leaders. She said that as a Garden State resident, some problems she is worried about include discrepancies between suburban and urban areas regarding income and poverty rates.
“On almost any health indicator, the negative outcomes are significantly more prevalent in our state’s urban areas,” she said. “For example, take infant mortality: Rates in Camden County are more than 2.5 times that in Morris County.”
Kantor said she wants to work with community members on her new program and conduct research with them as well. She said that in talking with Rutgers students from communities in New Jersey, the department wants to research what will be beneficial to finding community-based answers and information.
“I’ve dedicated my career to public health because it is a pathway to social and economic justice,” Kantor said. “I’m looking forward to working with and mentoring the diverse group of students who attend Rutgers and using my teaching and work on academic programs to further my commitment to resolving inequity.”