Ava Richardson, Baltimore City Health Department
As the Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Youth Wellness and Community Health at the Baltimore City Health Department Ava’s principal role is to support Baltimore City’s Stabilization Center coordinated by Behavior Health System Baltimore (BHSB). BHSB is a non-profit satellite office of the health department that manages the city’s behavior health system.
The 24-hour Stabilization Center will provide invaluable services to people suffering from substance use disorders. Conceptualized with emotional well-being in mind, the center will work closely with local law enforcement, community organizations and emergency medical departments to help address the opioid epidemic in Baltimore as a paramount public health issue. Ava will also be supporting various subdivisions and programs within the department of health.
Ava has demonstrated her zeal for public service through her undying pursuit of practical societal approaches to bring forth social justice in health. She strongly believes that health issues - which many disadvantaged populations struggle with are solved and prevented through sustainable, health-promoting environments that give everyone an opportunity to thrive.
Ava's past experiences have illuminated the intrinsic relationship between the health of the planet and that of its inhabitants - echoing the need to put people and planet first.
As an experienced public health strategist, community organizer and active, informed citizen, Ava continues to fight for racial, gender, economic and geographic equity in Baltimore City and the State of Maryland. She currently serves as a co-founder and CEO of SiStained, LLC – a sustainability and education collective – and a New Economy Maryland Fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. Ava has also served as a community engagement program manager for the Health Policy Research Consortium, and as a project manager for various non-profits and private sector companies.
In addition, Ava is the national director of Community Engagement and executive director of Health Empowerment at PolicyLingo, an innovative public policy awareness and education initiative that promotes informed civic engagement.
Ava holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Frostburg University in Frostburg, MD and a Master of Public Health from Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.
Why do you choose to live and work in Baltimore?
I view Baltimore as a social justice advocate’s playground. It is obvious that the city is dealing with entrenched, systemic, racism and social injustices – but this does not overshadow the amazing sense of community in Charm City that compares to no other city I have step foot in. I see Baltimore as the apt place to pioneer social justices programming and policies in health, education and income distribution because of its history of innovation, uniquely skilled population and anchor institutions.
What's one surprising fact about yourself?
I come from a family of 10.
Cheese, crackers, almonds and strawberries.