News & Events


April 23, 2019

New “Seven Directions” team working on several CDC & RWJF projects

By Leo N. Egashira

“Seven Directions, A Center for Indigenous Public Health” (7D, is the first national public health institute in the U.S. focused solely on Indigenous health and wellness. Its commitments are to cultivate and share knowledge, connect communities and resources and work together to achieve shared goals for future generations. 7D’s vision is “All Indigenous Peoples living long and healthy lives for generations to come.”

Photo showing Christina Oré (left) and Myra Parker (right) presenting at CDC meeting in Atlanta

Christina Oré (left) and Myra Parker (right) presenting at CDC meeting in Atlanta

Myra Parker, JD-PhD (Mandan-Hidatsa), Assistant Professor in Psychiatry and affiliated faculty with IWRI, became the Director of 7D in mid-2018. While technically a part of the UW’s Center for the Study of Health Risk and Behaviors (in the Dept. of Psychiatry), 7D has strong ties to IWRI in terms of joint personnel and collaboration. As Myra states, one way of approaching her work at 7D is, “thinking in the old ways to solve contemporary challenges.”

In the short time since Myra assumed the Directorship, she has strengthened partnerships with the National Network of Public Health Institutes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundations, and several tribes. She hit the ground running with seven major projects on her plate (as well as some smaller, technical assistance contracts):

  • Cherokee Nation Health Services (CNHS) strategic planning and public health re-accreditation, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Serving a large swath of NE Oklahoma, CNHS is the first Native American health system to secure accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board; 7D is advising CNHS to ensure a smooth re-accreditation process in 2020.
  • STARS in Public Health project to increase capacity at six Native American health systems, funded by RWJF: Six tribal grantees underwent self-assessment of their readiness for formal public health accreditation, and identified the prerequisite systems and evaluation structures that need to be in place.
  • Our Nations, Our Journeys, Indigenous Public Health Forum, held in St. Paul, Minnesota, August 29-30, 2018, funded by RWJF and the National Network of Public Health Institutes: The theme, “Transforming our Health Systems,” had four streams: (1) Indigenous Pathways to Health, (2) Data as Knowledge, (3) Governance for Health, and (4) Performance and Innovation.
  • Opioid Overdose Prevention in Tribes: Technical Assistance through Public Health Institutes project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): This project seeks to support 25 tribal community grantees addressing opioid overdoses by: (1) Strengthening epidemiologic surveillance and public health data infrastructure, (2) Increasing implementation of evidence-based health interventions in health systems, and (3) Highlighting  effective current opioid overdose prevention activities.
  • Tribal Public Health Capacity Recipient Support project for 25 tribal grantees, funded by the CDC. In this project, 7D will support the CDC in convening webinars and an in-person meeting, as well as designing an evaluation plan.
  • Indigenous Social Determinants of Health project, funded by the CDC. This project will seek to tap into Indigenous knowledge of the social determinants of health through a comprehensive environmental scan, creating a framework and community of practice that honors wellness traditions in tribal and urban Indian communities.
  • Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (STEADI) study, funded by the CDC. This needs assessment study will survey 25 Indian Health Services, tribal, and urban out-patient clinics identifying common problems and best practices that can be a springboard for providing fall prevention training and support.
Photo Showing the 7 Directions Team: (L-R) Myra Parker, PhD, JD - Maya Magarati, PhD - Leo Egashira, MBA, Danielle Lucero

7 Directions Team: (L-R) Myra Parker, PhD, JD – Maya Magarati, PhD – Leo Egashira, MBA, Danielle Lucero

Myra quickly realized the necessity of quickly putting together an experienced team. Maya Magarati, PhD, Research Scientist at IWRI, joined 7D as a Senior Advisor; Leo N. Egashira, MBA, Research Coordinator at IWRI splits his time and performs the same role in 7D; and Danielle Lucero, MPH-MSW, was hired first as a Student Assistant, and then as a Research Assistant. In early 2019, Christina Oré, DrPH, was hired as a Tucson, Arizona-based Senior Advisor for Indigenous Health Systems and Services. As of this writing in Spring 2019, 7D is looking to add two more research coordinators, one in Seattle and the other in Tucson, Arizona. Complementing the growing staff are four work-study students, and two practicum / intern graduate students.

Photo showing Myra Parker (left) and Christina Oré (center) at the Georgia Aquarium

Myra Parker (left) and Christina Oré (center) at the Georgia Aquarium

With more staff and several conferences on the calendar, Seven Directions promises to be a beehive of activity for the rest of the year and beyond.