Health and Racial Equity Committee

The Health and Racial Equity (HRE) Committee is part of the Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHA, an affiliate organization of the American Public Health Association, APHA) born out of the MPHA’s strong commitment to health and racial equity and justice for all Mississippians.

Following a series of events including the 2020 retirement of the former Mississippi flag with the confederate battle insignia and the death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests against racism, the HRE Committee was set up. With regular meetings commenced, the HRE Committee became a standing committee in November, 2021. The committee reflects on the ways the MPHA is currently meeting its goals and expectations of being an anti-racist, inclusive organization that is working to improve health outcomes by reducing health inequities in Mississippi.


We aim to be a reference board/committee for the propagation of diversity, equity and inclusivity in (public) health.


To provide a continuous process of proactive and action-based response to the public health crisis of racism in Mississippi with an increasing reach beyond the state to the rest of the United States of America.


1. Facilitate the MPHA’s role in advancing and improving health equity in Mississippi, among individuals and groups.
2. Convene and train public health professionals on health equity.
3. Educate and promote inclusion and anti-racism in health activities by the MPHA and
other APHA affiliates.
4. Work with the MPHA Legislative and Policy Committee to monitor legislative
activity and offer analysis on health equity related policies.
5. Learn and share with other APHA affiliates.

Committee Members

Dr. Tanya Funchess
Chair of the MPHA Health and Racial Equity Committee and MPHA President-Elect
College of Nursing and School of Health Professions
Assistant Professor of Public Health
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Dr. Katie Crawford Buys
Family Nurse Practitioner Program
School of Nursing
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Latasha Easterling
HAN/SS/Opioid SS Coordinator – BSA II,
Mississippi State Department of Health, Office of Epidemiology,

Mr. Ron Davis
Past President of MPHA
Former Human Resources Director, Mississippi State Department of Health,

Ms. LaShundrea Bradford
Research Dietician
University of Southern Mississippi

Dr. Danielle Fastring
Assistant Professor
University of Southern Mississippi

Karin Thurman
Bureau Director, Office of Performance Improvement
Mississippi State Department of Health

Dr. Alyce Stewart
Bureau Director, Genetic Services
Mississippi State Department of Health

MPHA Staff Support:

Dr. Kaye Bender
Executive Director, MPHA – primary

Kay Henry
Special Projects Coordinator, MPHA – secondary

Our Declaration

Mississippi Public Health Association Statement on Racism and Racial Equity
“The Mississippi Public Health Association (MPHA) acknowledges that racism in all its forms, implicit or explicit as well as individual, group-based or structural, is a threat to public health and that together, we will work for racial equity. MPHA commits to reject overt racism, reduce structural racism and implicit bias and promote equity.”