Dr. April Shaw is a staff attorney at the Network’s Northern Region Office. She is interested in a variety of health equity issues as they relate to economic, gender, and racial disparities. She is particularly interested in thinking through how multiple inequities intersect to create systemic disparities. April was previously a Research Scholar at the Center for Public Health Law & Policy at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. She worked at the Project on Predatory Student Lending at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and, prior to that, as a senior law clerk at the Arizona Court of Appeals.

April received her J.D. with distinction from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2015, and won the Sarah Weddington Writing Prize for New Student Scholarship in Reproductive Rights Law. She earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2010. There, she focused on social and political philosophy with an emphasis on gender and critical race theory.

Articles & Resources

Do Not Fear Critical Race Theory (Or Why Public Health Must Embrace Dissent, Diversity, and Discourse)

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in SchoolMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

October 4, 2021
by April Shaw

There has been a well-publicized attempt across the nation to stop the teaching of “critical race theory” through state legislation, lawsuits, pressure by parents at school board meetings, and other means. A consequence of this legally imposed silence is that persistent, obvious, and consistent patterns of inequality are portrayed as random and individualized rather than resulting from a social system organized around racial and gender lines. This runs counter to a public health approach which is based on understanding how systems impact whole populations.

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Rethinking and Reducing the Role of Law Enforcement in Suicide Prevention Efforts

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMental Health and Well-BeingRacism as a Public Health Crisis

May 18, 2021
by April Shaw

It’s essential to rethink suicide prevention that involves the use of police, and to forge a new path forward that does not result in additional trauma or even death of the very persons whose life—and quality of life—suicide prevention advocates are seeking to protect.

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National Minority Health Month: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Action to Address Health Disparities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 21, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie McLachlan, Dawn Hunter and Mathew R. Swinburne

Several universities across the U.S. have announced plans to require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before heading back to campus for the fall semester. Brown, Cornell, Duke, Northeastern, and Rutgers are among them. Some institutions of higher learning, like Virginia Tech, have determined that they cannot require vaccinations because of the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, but this stance rests on shaky legal grounds.

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Women’s History Month: Network Attorneys Discuss Law and Policy Solutions to Promote Women’s Health & Wellbeing

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMedicaidMental Health and Well-Being

March 24, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie Waggoner, Colleen Healy Boufides, Dawn Hunter, Jill Krueger and Leila Barraza

In honor of Women's History Month, women in the Network’s Health Equity Working Group have highlighted legal or policy issues affecting women’s health that they see as critically important. The topics addressed cover: economic stability and well-being, pregnancy discrimination, period poverty, and maternal depression. The law and policy solutions discussed here have the potential to improve life for women and girls for generations to come.

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An Assessment of the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

Policy BriefMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthRacism as a Public Health Crisis

January 25, 2021
by April Shaw

In September, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (the “Order”), with stated goals  to promote unity and to “combat offensive and Anti-American race and sex stereotyping” within the federal workforce. The intent of the Order is to restrict trainings on gender and race discrimination that have “divisive concepts.” This assessment uses a public health lens to highlight four fundamental shortcomings of the Order.

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Systemic Racism and Intersectionality: To Get Practical, We Need to Get Theoretical

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthRacism as a Public Health Crisis

January 7, 2021
by April Shaw

With growing interest in tackling structural and other forms of racism, this is a good time to consider how theory is fundamental to bringing about meaningful, practical change. The theories that guide us may be consciously thought out or unreflectively adopted. Therefore, it is necessary to intentionally unpack and understand the norms and assumptions that are built into our day-to-day practices and long-term strategies to bring about reforms.

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Struggling in the Shadows: The Mental Anguish of Educational Fraud

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMental Health and Well-Being

September 10, 2020
by April Shaw

Although there has been some attention to the mental health impacts of student loan debt, little attention has been directed towards the harm experienced by those with student loan debt who have been defrauded by for-profit colleges. These individuals have massive debt after pursuing an education that does not afford any of the opportunities typically associated with higher education. The harm they experience is not merely economic—it’s a social harm with deeply damaging impacts on mental health.

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