Dara D. Mendez

Assistant Professor
Organization
University of Pittsburgh

Dara D. Mendez, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology and of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Graduate School of Public Health. She is also an affiliate faculty member of the Geoinformatics Laboratory and Center for Latin American Studies at Pitt.  She completed her postdoctoral training as a Kellogg Health Scholar and earned her MPH and PhD in Maternal and Child Health with a focus in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and BA in Sociology/Anthropology pre-med at Spelman College. Mendez applies a variety of methods and approaches in her work related to the complex intersections between racism, multiple forms of oppression, stress and place in understanding Black maternal and infant health as well as racial/ethnic inequities in pregnancy, birth and women’s health. This has included developing novel measures and assessments to understand and address structural and institutional racism. Mendez is a national expert and collaborates with community-based and governmental agencies focused on maternal and child health, reproductive justice, and broadly, health equity. Her additional leadership roles have included serving as former Board Chair of the National Women’s Health Network, executive member of the Birth Equity Institute (BEST) Allegheny Initiative, the Pennsylvania Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the Black Equity Coalition based in Allegheny County.  

 

Projects

The burdens of racist policies have produced vastly worse pregnancy and birth outcomes for Black and Native populations relative to White populations in the United States. Because state Medicaid programs are the largest single payer for pregnancy care in the country, changes to Medicaid policies are an important way to implement structural interventions to promote racial equity.