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VOICES

February 2020

Dear Center for Health Equity Transformation Community:

It is with a very heavy heart and great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr. Virginia “Gini” Bishop. There are really no words to express how deeply she will be missed. She was relentless in her pursuit of social justice to lift health for all. Dr. Bishop was and will be the true embodiment of a community health champion. She was my personal hero.

Dr. Bishop held appointments as an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine Program in Public Health and in the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM). She served as an educator and mentor for medical students as the Latino Affairs and Community Engagement liaison from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She had more than 20 years of experience in public health, child and adolescent medicine, and community-based research. She was a tireless health equity hero and had extensive involvement with governmental partners, regulatory agencies, scientists and key opinion leaders.

Dr. Bishop was dedicated to empowering youth that often times others had given up on. She championed community in every dimension, relentlessly. She found immense joy in encouraging and inspiring others to join her.

We ask that you join us in reflecting on the amazing work and gifts of guidance she provided. May her work in community health and legacy live on through those that she impacted. We strive to be able to continue her work in community health and achieving health equity.

Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and loved ones during this time.

Visitation for Dr. Virginia Bishop will be Sunday, February 9th at St. Sylvester Church (2157 N. Humboldt Blvd Chicago, IL 60647) from 4-9 pm. Mass Monday at 10 am. Burial immediately following at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside.

Services are open to all.

Dr. Bishop’s family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made towards Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School, a school in Humboldt Park that Gini strongly supported. Donations can be written out to Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos HS and mailed to 2739 W Division Chicago IL 60622.

Rest in Power,

Melissa Simon, MD, MPH

Director/Founder, Center for Health Equity Transformation


We have lost a wonderful person and a true social justice advocate. I know we will all miss her honest, straightforward clear vision.

Personally I was so fortunate to teach with her at Northwestern, and to have her insight and wisdom shared through our board and the Cook County health system.

-Margie Schaps, MPH

Our world’s light is dimmer today and our communities of Chicago and Northwestern have lost an amazing advocate.

-Jen Brown

I can still see Gini as a young colleague early in my Chicago experience and followed her trajectory with awe and admiration.

-Fred Rachman

I met Gini when she was a premed student and from that time on she always personified the kind of physician-leader that we need in the Latino community. Every time I had doubts about why we did what we were doing, I looked at her example and felt inspired to keep going.

She will be sorely missed.

-Jorge Girotti

Dr. Bishop made a difference in all those she touched!  Incredible loss to all of us and those she cared for.

-Carmen Velasquez

Upcoming CHETchat: Tuesday, February 10th!
Register
Screening and discussion of 2019 Film: Just Mercy
This screening is co-sponsored by the Center for Community Health and Center for Health Equity Transformation at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine and the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination at the University of Chicago. A discussion with local community stakeholders will immediately follow.
Learn more here.
New Podcast Episode:  Preventing Gun Violence in Chicago ft. Noam Ostrander, Terry Williams & Valerie Burgest
In this episode we cover how gun violence affects quality of life for everyone, community-driven research framework, and policies and programs aimed at preventing gun violence. Listen here!
Hidden Figures Spotlight
Health Equity exists in every sector, yet it is often difficult to stay informed about all the incredible work impacting this topic. With the goal to elevate the work of health equity champions across traditional boundaries, each month, Voices will be featuring individuals and/or organizations advancing health equity work in and around the Chicagoland area who, at times, may be unsung to the greater community. 
Leony Calderón
Leony Calderón, a longtime resident of the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Community Health. She has worked with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRCC) since the early 90’s; primarily in the implementation process of Public Health Initiative programs. Since 1990, she has been a community activist and leader on issues related to social justice, human rights and health disparities in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago.
In 2005, due to her own health issues, she created a physical activity program and called it “Muévete”. She has worked with the PRCC to expand and disseminate this program, which is the most well-known FREE physical activity program in the Greater Humboldt Park neighborhood. The Muévete program has expanded from a walking group into a full physical activity program that currently serves the Greater Humboldt Park Community, with the collaboration of the PRCC and the Chicago Park District.
As a result of this work, the Muévete program was featured in the book, Urban Health: Combating Disparities with Local Data (Whitman, 2010). Her work with Muévete has also been featured in the New York Times (Reaves, 2010) as part of the description of a community study on health disparities conducted by the Sinai Urban Health Institute. She is the author of the Muévete Manual; Muévete, Movement for a Healthier Life (2008). In addition Ms. Calderón has been a volunteer coordinator of the Puerto Rican People’s Day Parade of Chicago since 2002.
 
Q: Where did you see the greatest health inequities when you started your work? How did these disparities affect the communities that you serve?
A: Unfortunately, because we live in a colonial system, my community suffers from many unnatural caused health issues. Health services and the opportunity for quality health care for people of color is colossal. I think my true leadership and activism, in terms of health, started with the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 90s. Services that catered to people who looked and talked like me did not exist. The PRCC took it upon themselves to develop much needed services in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. However, diseases often do not exist independently of each other, and other illnesses will likely follow. In my personal case, it was obesity with the potential of all the health issues that obesity impacts like hypertension, diabetes type 2, heart disease, high cholesterol, insomnia, depression, stiff joints, and pain. This was the premise in creating the Muévete physical activity program to address physical activity in the fight against obesity and all the onset illnesses that accompany it.

Q: What do you view as the greatest need now? How do you incorporate health equity in the work you do?
A: All the above-mentioned are issues that are constantly affecting my community and as mentioned, often times no one health issue exists in a silo. However, based on my experience working in my community within the public health field, I would say that mental health is at the top of the list. I work for a not-for profit grassroots organization that provides the community with free, attainable health services. Incorporating health equity is the definition of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Inclusive of Muévete, PRCC runs on 100% volunteer efforts, collaboration from other entities, and individuals.

Q: What direction do you think health equity work needs to take to achieve health for all?
A:
Policy change that is inclusive of all: education, job opportunities, affordable and attainable housing, and health services. Everything is interconnected when achieving health equity. We can have all the programs in the world to “benefit” underserved communities but new policies need to be implemented, or old ones need to be revised to reflect the real issues that plague communities of color, starting with colonialism. 

Q: How can other hidden figures collaborate to amplify their impact on health equity?
A:
This is a good question, which honestly I have no answer for. However, I will say that it will take more than hidden figures to ensure health equity for all, especially in the political climate we find ourselves in nowadays. We all need to work together with our elective officials to ensure policies are not being overlooked and new policies are being established. 

Q: What does being recognized as a Health Equity Hidden Figure mean to you? Who are your Hidden Figures?​
A:
I’m not sure, I didn’t know I was a hidden figure. However, I do like to work behind the scenes, no pun intended. To me it’s all about the work and the effectiveness of that work. 
I think everyone that works in the health field, especially at the community level whose work reflects a practice of human right advocacy, social justice, who often are overworked, underpaid, who sacrifice their personal time and personal resources to ensure the work and services are delivered, are all my Hidden Figures.
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633 North Saint Clair Street, Suite 1800
Chicago, IL  60611

Email us at healthequity@northwestern.edu
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