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Census Director Robert L. Santos Speaks at the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative

Census Director Robert Santos surveys the audience at Drexel

December 20, 2023

On Wednesday, December 13th, U.S. Census Director Robert L. Santos presented an inspiring talk to a packed room at the Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health. His talk had a provocative title: “The Real Challenge Facing Aspiring Biostatisticians, Data Scientists and Schools of Public Health More Generally Is...Us,” but the takeaway was simple: Effective population research requires diverse perspectives. “We need to recognize diversity as the asset that it is,” Director Santos said. “But it’s only an asset when we use it.”

Director Santos opened his talk by sharing early experiences from his career, when he was often the only Latino on his team. He quickly realized that the culture, values, and life experience that he brought gave him insight into public health issues that a room full of highly-credentialed statisticians couldn’t see. “You truly need to bring your whole self to the table,” he advised the audience, after praising the diversity he saw among attendants, who represented a range of cultures as well as fields of study.

Census Director Robert Santos speaks with students at Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health

Census Director Robert Santos speaks with students at Drexel Dornsife School of Public Health.

Organizations that aspire to serve communities or protect population health must take into account a range of perspectives, Director Santos added, both by assembling diverse teams and by actively soliciting the perspectives of community members. These diverse perspectives in combination can help organizations capture better, more relevant data.

This event was co-hosted by the Drexel Urban Health Collaborative and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. 

Census Director Robert Santos with Usama Bilal, Ana Diex Roux, and Stephanie Hernandez

Census Director Robert Santos with UHC co-directors Dr. Usama Bilal and Ana Diex Roux, and talk host Dr. Stephanie Hernandez

UHC Invited Speaker Series

The Urban Health Collaborative's distinguished Invited Speaker Series focuses on innovative approaches to improving urban health. This year's remaining speakers are:

  • 2/7: Brian Smedley, PhD, co-founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity
  • 4/24: Keshia Pollack Porter, PhD, Bloomberg Centennial Chair, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • 5/29: Zinzi Bailey, ScD, MPSH, Associate Professor, Epidemiology & Community Health, University of Minnesota; Managing Director at Health Equity Research Solutions, LLC
To be notified of future invited speakers, please sign up for our newsletter.