Phyllis Jeden, J.D., serves as Senior Attorney, Mid-States Region. Phyllis received a Bachelor of Science in Community Development from Central Michigan University and is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. Phyllis worked with the Maurice and Jane Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice during and after graduating from Wayne Law. During her law school career, Phyllis also interned with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and participated in Wayne Law’s Disability Law Clinic.

Phyllis later served as a Staff Attorney for Lakeshore Legal Aid, where she also acted as an Ombudsman for Michigan’s MI Health Link Program. Prior to joining the Network, she worked for a private boutique law firm concentrating her practice in the areas of civil and probate litigation. Phyllis has several years of experience in the areas of probate, public benefits, housing, consumer, employment and family law and in protection from abuse.

In her free time, Phyllis enjoys exploring the Michigan park system with her family, playing music and reading. Phyllis is the daughter of Iraqi immigrants. Her experience as a first-generation Chaldean American has informed her worldview and encouraged her interest in public service, equity, and social justice.

Articles & Resources

­Overview of State and Local Equity Offices: 2024 Edition

ReportMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityRacism as a Public Health Crisis

April 24, 2024
by Phyllis Jeden

Many state and local governments have established offices of equity or similar entities to prioritize equity in government policies and procedures, and to lead and support equity work within the communities they serve. The first edition of this resource provided detailed examples of cities or counties across 12 states that established such offices. This 2024 Edition provides a non-exhaustive list of states, cities and counties across the country that have established such offices and includes some information on the offices found.

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­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.

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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.

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­Racial Equity Interests and Needs Assessment

ReportMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

September 22, 2023
by Betsy Lawton, Carrie Waggoner, Chris Alibrandi O’Connor, Dawn Hunter, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, Phyllis Jeden and Sara Rogers

By May of 2020, the realities of the inequitable toll of COVID-19 on communities of color became starkly evident, and the murder of George Floyd sparked a renewed movement for racial justice in the United States. During this time, the Network began earnestly exploring how best to respond and be of assistance in a rapidly changing environment. An internal Health Equity Work Group (HEWG) was established to create a space for connection and learning, and to identify ways to collaborate across regions to be responsive to what we were observing and experiencing. One of the early actions identified by the HEWG was to “evaluate what services and supports Network users are interested in” via tools like an environmental scan, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups. This report explores the process that was undertaken to answer that question and the key findings and themes relevant to health and racial equity work across a variety of public health practitioners and organizations.

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­Minnesota Community Health Workers – Defining Care Coordination

Policy BriefHealth and Health CareWorkforce Expansion

May 11, 2023
by Phyllis Jeden and Sara Rogers

This policy brief focuses on the definition of care coordination services provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the state of Minnesota and was written in response to a request for research on how other state statutes and regulations define care coordination services. Minnesota is investigating the potential to expand CHW service coverage to ensure the sustainability of CHWs in the state. The state is looking into ways to define care coordination that allows the service to be covered. Definitions for care coordination or for CHW services that address care coordination (or comparable services) may be found in the statutes or regulations of at least nine states.

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Direct Entry Midwives Across the Nation

50-state surveyReproductive Health and Equity Maternal and Child HealthHealth and Health Care

May 3, 2023
by Dawn Hunter and Phyllis Jeden

Midwives play a critical role in reducing maternal mortality and many states have made an effort to expand the number of midwives by allowing the licensure of “direct entry” midwives who may be credentialed despite not having a formal nursing education. This resource provides a summary of laws in all states and the District of Columbia regulating direct entry, including training requirements for licensure, the state regulatory body, and what medications midwives can administer while practicing.

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A Renewed Focus on Health Equity in Wayne County, Michigan

Law & Policy InsightsNeighborhood and Built EnvironmentFood and Housing Insecurity MeasuresEnvironment, Climate and HealthHealthy and Affordable HousingMaternal and Child HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthMental Health and Well-BeingReproductive Health and Equity 

April 19, 2023
by Phyllis Jeden

Wayne County Michigan, which encompasses the City of Detroit, has a large population of residents of color and also faces some of the state’s most significant challenges. Recently, the county has taken significant measures to address acknowledged disparities in health outcomes, creating Regional Health Equity Advisory Councils, a Black Leadership Council, and committing $300 million to support more than 100 programs to further positive, systemic change.

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