April Shaw, Ph.D., J.D., is as a Senior Staff Attorney in the Network’s Health Equity Team. She has expertise in breaking down the policy impacts of laws and illuminating how theory can inform practice. She also has expertise in racial health equity and is especially interested in thinking through how multiple inequities intersect to create systemic disparities. Some of her areas of focus include mental health, suicide prevention, cultural healing and safety, and climate justice. April has worked as the Research Scholar at the Center for Public Health Law & Policy at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and at the Project on Predatory Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law school, writing white papers to assist with defrauded students’ defense to student loan repayment claims. She has also worked as a senior law clerk at the Arizona Court of Appeals drafting court opinions and memorandum.

April earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder, specializing in social and political philosophy with a focus on gender and racial justice. She wrote her dissertation on severe global poverty and human rights. April received her J.D. with distinction from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, winning first place in the 2015 Sara Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights Law, a national writing contest.

Articles & Resources

­A Snapshot of Four 2023 Supreme Court Cases and their Impacts on Racial Health Equity­

Fact SheetMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityRacism as a Public Health Crisis

March 7, 2024
by April Shaw and Phyllis Jeden

Law and policy play a critical role in shaping health outcomes especially when it comes to racial health equity. While legislative actions and trends matter, it is also important to understand the role of the courts in altering legal landscapes in ways that can positively or negatively impact racial health disparities. This fact sheet highlights four 2023 U.S. Supreme Court cases with examples of how each potentially impacts racial health equity. It also provides a further examination of two cases of the cases that can be classified as wins for racial health equity.

View page

Voter Trends on Ballot Measures Show Support for Reproductive Rights

Law & Policy InsightsReproductive Health and Equity Maternal and Child Health

January 25, 2024
by April Shaw and Phyllis Jeden

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, states now have more legislative power to restrict or expand access to abortion services. One strategy that states are using to pass laws regarding abortion access is to place the issue of abortion on a ballot for voters to decide. These reproductive care access ballot measures are an important litmus test for the inclination of American voters.

Read more

Reflections on how The Supreme Court Affirmative Action in College Admissions Opinion Denies the Reality of Racism in the U.S. and its Impact on People of Color

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

October 4, 2023
by April Shaw

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College (June 2022), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious affirmative action programs at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. What is striking about this case is not just its findings that these specific programs are unconstitutional, but the case goes even further to declare that race no longer matters, and that racism is dead. Racism is a public health crisis, and the Supreme Court has added to this crisis.

Read more

Equitable Community Engagement and Climate Change: Two Toolkits

OverviewEnvironment, Climate and HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 22, 2023
by April Shaw

It’s critical that climate solutions prioritize and improve lives in communities that have historically been at the margins of government priorities. Yet, even as governmental agencies work to reach out to community members to engage them in this work, community members often express how difficult it is to get government agencies to really listen to their urgent needs and act in their best interests. Two new Network toolkits provide practical guidance for addressing two climate-driven public health needs: community-centered emergency response and preparedness, and community-centered solutions to extreme heat. 

View page

Inequitable Outcomes of Climate Emergencies Demonstrate the Need for Changes in Practice and Policy

Fact SheetMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityEnvironment, Climate and Health

March 22, 2023
by April Shaw and Mosalewa Ani

This first piece focuses on the concrete harms that result from the development of laws, policies, and practices produced without meaningful efforts to engage with communities, highlighting some of the real-world impacts of inequitable practices with respect to drought, wildfires, flooding, and extreme heat. The examples provided are starting points for thinking through how things have gone wrong, where change may be needed, and opportunities for successful collaboration.

View page

Equitable Community Engagement and Climate Change: Two Toolkits

Resource CollectionEnvironment, Climate and Health

March 22, 2023
by April Shaw, Jill Krueger and Mosalewa Ani

As the climate crisis continues to accelerate, public health departments must work with communities to create mitigation and prevention measures to protect health. Government entities often seek guidance on how to meaningfully engage communities and on what solutions will best support underserved communities. Community members need accessible open processes and solutions that will help communities at the frontline of climate change. To support this work, we have created a toolkit on community-centered emergency response and preparedness and a toolkit on community-centered solutions to extreme heat.

View page

Six Policies that Advance Black Health and Wellbeing

Policy BriefMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthCivic Engagement and VotingMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityReproductive Health and Equity 

February 23, 2023
by April Shaw, Betsy Lawton, Dawn Hunter, Jennifer Piatt, Kathleen Hoke, Mosalewa Ani and Sara Rogers

In honor of Black History Month, Network attorneys and staff have highlighted six policies that have the power to reduce health disparities and improve outcomes for Black people and communities of color throughout the United States. This policy brief serves as a practical tool to help public health professionals, leaders, and partners share strategies that can advance, rather than threaten, Black health and wellbeing over the long-term.

View page

Implementing 988 to Strengthen Mental Health and Suicide Prevention: Insights and Lessons Learned So Far

Webinars

August 24, 2022
by April Shaw

The new dialing code 988, which provides direct access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line, is expected to increase mental health and suicide prevention support across the nation. This webinar will provide insight into national policy issues impacting 988 and a deep state-focused dive on 988 implementation in Nebraska. The goal of the webinar is to help those working on 988 implementation gain insight into shared learnings as states and others think through their own processes and equity considerations.  

View page