Colleen Healy Boufides, J.D., is a deputy director with the Network’s Mid-States Region Office. Her current work focuses on public health legal authority and decision-making; collaboration between medical-legal partnerships (MLP) and public health, particularly as it facilitates translating individual legal challenges into population-level legal interventions; laws supporting the community health worker profession; and legal issues relating to environmental health and climate change. Prior to joining the Network, Colleen worked at the Michigan Primary Care Association where she focused on policy and operational issues affecting Michigan’s federally qualified health centers. Before that, she worked as a commercial litigation associate for a large Michigan-based law firm and supported local nonprofit organizations as a board member and by providing pro bono legal assistance.

In 2019, Colleen was included in the de Beaumont Foundation’s list of 40 under 40 in Public Health and she received the American Public Health Association Law Section’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Public Health Law. Colleen received her law degree from the Duke University School of Law and her Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University – the Barrett Honors College, where she studied psychology and global health. Colleen is a member of the state bar of Michigan.

Articles & Resources

Network Now Accepting Applications for MLP Safe & Healthy Housing Cohort

Network NewsMedical-Legal PartnershipsHealthy and Affordable Housing

January 29, 2020
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Apply to join a 6-month cohort of MLPs seeking to improve the safety and quality of housing in their communities through upstream efforts, ranging from informing implementation and enforcement strategies, to spearheading impact litigation, to contributing in large and small ways to legal changes.

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Navigating Law to Share Environmental Health Data: Highlights from the Public Health Law Summit

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data SharingEnvironment, Climate and Health

December 4, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

The medium through which an environmental exposure occurs (e.g., water, air, soil) is often geographically based and/or clustered. For this reason, responding to an environmental health threat in a meaningful and timely way requires real-time, granular data and prompt local action. The broad range of potentially relevant environmental health data sources highlights one of the key legal challenges with obtaining and using local data: often each type of data (hazard, exposure and health outcome) is governed by a different law and may be collected by a different entity.

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Striving for Health Equity through Medical, Public Health, and Legal Collaboration

Law & Policy InsightsMedical-Legal Partnerships

August 27, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

The connection between health and social factors like housing, food security, education and exposure to violence is clear. So, too, are the challenges faced by a health care system that is increasingly expected to address these connections despite the disconnection between treating individual symptoms and participating in population-level strategies to reduce barriers to good health. In this Q&A, the authors of this article from the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics explore how partnerships among health, public health, and legal experts are essential to addressing the upstream causes of poor health.

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Striving for Health Equity through Medical, Public Health, and Legal Collaboration

Law & Policy InsightsMedical-Legal Partnerships

August 27, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

The connection between health and social factors like housing, food security, education and exposure to violence is clear. So, too, are the challenges faced by a health care system that is increasingly expected to address these connections despite the disconnection between treating individual symptoms and participating in population-level strategies to reduce barriers to good health. In this Q&A, the authors of this article from the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics explore how partnerships among health, public health, and legal experts are essential to addressing the upstream causes of poor health.

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How Public Health Departments and Medical-Legal Partnerships Can Collaborate to Strengthen Community Health Efforts

Law & Policy InsightsMedical-Legal Partnerships

July 12, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Medical-legal partnership (MLP) attorneys are ideally situated to identify and define the contours of specific legal issues affecting a community’s health. MLPs can also play an important role in informing, guiding, and effectuating strategic legal changes to improve health at the population level. In addition to working with MLPs on public health law and policy initiatives, there are many additional opportunities for public health departments and MLPs to collaborate on a day-to-day basis.

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Advancing the Community Health Worker Workforce through Law and Policy

WebinarsCommunity Health Needs Assessments

June 20, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Community health workers (CHWs) are key members of both health care teams and the public health workforce and, with their close understanding of the communities they serve, are uniquely suited to help address root causes of poor health. As the CHW workforce grows, continuously evolving state laws and policies have the potential to improve public understanding of the CHW role and facilitate sustainable financing for CHWs.

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Legal Considerations for Community Health Workers and their Employers

Issue BriefWorkforce Expansion

March 1, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

There is growing recognition of the unique role that Community Health Workers (CHWs) can play in addressing social determinants of health. Health departments and community-based organizations are increasingly relying on them to provide a variety of services. This issue brief explores legal issues relating to the regulation and employment of community health workers.

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Executive Action as a Tool for Promoting Evidence-Based Public Health Decision-Making

Law & Policy Insights

February 12, 2019
by Colleen Healy Boufides

Gubernatorial executive orders and directives can serve as powerful tools for furthering public health goals. In addition to directing public health agency activities, establishing policies and priorities, and responding to emergencies, executive orders or directives can also play a role in shaping agency culture to promote effective public health decision-making.

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