Lab Culture Ep. 24: In pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion in the public health laboratory

Lab Culture Ep. 24: In pursuit of diversity, equity and inclusion in the public health laboratory

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been a major topic of discussion among APHL’s members, staff and partners as well as in the national discourse. Understanding the minority experience is important so that individual and systemic progress can be made. But what is it like for public health laboratory staff who identify as being in a minority group? The Emerging Leader Program’s (ELP) 13 Fall Cohort decided to tackle this topic as part of their final project. In this episode, four members of this cohort shared pieces of the conversations they had with their colleagues and their overall thoughts on DEI within the public health laboratory as a workplace.

The ELP 13-Fall Cohort is a larger group, but only four members participated in this episode. They are:

Chenelle Norman
Association of Public Health Laboratories
Newborn Screening and Genetics
Manager, Newborn Screening Quality Improvement

Kim Smith
Houston Health Department
Quality and Compliance
QA/QC Officer

Alyssa MacMillan
New Jersey Department of Health Public Health & Environmental Laboratories
Microbiology Program Manager

Jill Simonetti
Minnesota Department of Health
Public Health Laboratory
Newborn Screening Operations Supervisor

Listen here or on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts: 


Update — A note from ELP 13 Fall Cohort:

The conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion is an ongoing one. As a group, we have committed to not only discussing these issues, but also listening to others and always being willing to progress in our approach. A listener and a colleague bravely contacted a member of this group to share that two of the terms used in our podcast episode are considered offensive. Those terms are “illegal immigrants” and “homosexual.” While no one individual speaks for an entire group, we respect this individual’s feelings and we learned that they are far from alone in considering these terms to be offensive. We used these terms because our interview subjects used them and we wanted our conversations to remain authentic. We also weren’t aware that these terms are widely considered offensive. But now we know – we have learned from our colleague – and we are truly sorry for offending any of our listeners.

We are not experts on this topic. Our goal is to encourage discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion in a way that will allow public health laboratories to be more aware of how this topic impacts staff as individuals and the workplace environment. We made a mistake in our wording – we might make more mistakes in the future – but we are listening no matter how uncomfortable this feedback might be. Again, we’re sorry for our mistake.

Why “undocumented immigrants” is preferred terminology:

Why “gay,” “lesbian” or “queer” is preferred terminology:


How racism makes us sick | David R. Williams

“Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter” by David Rock and Heidi Grant 

“Why The Phrase ‘Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps’ Is Nonsense”

Lab Culture Ep. 9: What is the APHL Emerging Leader Program?  

Lab Culture Ep. 10: Public health labs do that?!

Lab Culture Ep. 11: What if there were no public health labs? 

Lab Culture Ep. 12: Bitten by the public health bug — How I found my lab niche 

APHL Emerging Leader Program 

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APHL on Instagram



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