Rush University System for Health is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. John A. Rich as director of the RUSH BMO Institute for Health Equity. Rich was selected through a national search and will assume his new position on July 1.
As the inaugural director of the RUSH BMO Institute for Health Equity, Rich will draw from his impressive experience to launch and scale efforts that promote health equity across all dimensions of RUSH’s mission. This includes partnering with the community; leading and engaging with students, staff and faculty; coordinating education and research efforts; and evaluating local and federal policy to improve the health of every individual who seeks our care regardless of their race, socioeconomic background, gender, beliefs, sexual orientation or physical ability.
RUSH became one of the first academic medical systems in the country to put health equity at the center of our strategic mission in 2016. The RUSH BMO Institute for Health Equity was launched last year to help coordinate our health equity efforts across RUSH and our diverse communities. To achieve the bold goal of eliminating health inequities, RUSH leadership recognized the need for a full-time director who shares our vision and values.
Most recently, Rich served as professor of health management and policy at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University. In addition, he was director and founder of the Drexel Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice, where he led policy, conducted research and training initiatives and raised significant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Institute of Mental Health and several foundations.
Rich received a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, his medical degree from Duke University Medical School and a master’s degree in public health from Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital and a fellowship in general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School.
After his fellowship, Rich was drawn to Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center), where he was troubled by the ways that trauma, poverty and lack of access to health care constantly assaulted the health of Black and Latino men. There, he launched the Young Men’s Health Clinic and garnered funds to create a community health worker training initiative, where young men from the community were taught the skills to work alongside primary care health providers. His efforts were recognized with a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2006. The foundation acknowledged his ability to design “new models of health care that stretch across the boundaries of public health, education, social service and justice systems to engage young men in caring for themselves and their peers.”
At the same time, Rich began using qualitative research to collect the narratives of these young survivors of recurrent violence. This work ultimately resulted in Rich’s book Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Trauma and Violence in the Lives of Young Black Men, published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2009. Renowned civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman commented on the book, saying, “Scholar-practitioners like Dr. John Rich are helping find the answers we urgently need to better understand the cycle of violence and save our children from being its next victims.”
“Dr. Rich’s commitment to equity and inclusion is woven into the fabric of everything he does,” said Dr. Susan L. Freeman, Rush University provost and senior vice president and the Robert C. and Naomi T. Borwell Presidential professor. “His great gifts of listening intentionally and working collectively to develop and execute mission-based priorities fit perfectly with the RBIHE’s commitment to eliminate health inequities and help people live longer healthier lives.”