Critical Futures

An interview-based podcast by the IHJE. It’s Critical, because the time is now to conjure the world we want to live and thrive in. It’s also Futurity: the intentional imagining and materializing of liberated futures.

5 November 2023

Series 1, Episode 9: "Institutional and Interpersonal Barriers to Health Equity"

Featuring Kathryn Youker and Ben D'Avanzo

About Our Guests

Kathryn Youker

Katy Youker, Director of the Economic Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee since August 2021, leads impact litigation, policy advocacy, and education for Black and minority workers’ rights in employment and healthcare. Previously, Katy spent nearly two decades at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid representing low-paid workers, including migrant farmworkers, in state and federal court cases involving wage theft, discrimination, and human trafficking. She has served on the State Bar of Texas Labor and Employment Section executive council, local government committees, and nonprofit boards of directors, including as a founding board member of Border Workers United, the only workers’ center on the Texas-Mexico border.


Highlighted Work:

Ben D'Avanzo

Ben D’Avanzo works on access to health care and healthy lives for low-income immigrant communities. Through advocacy, relationship-building, and analysis, he advances policies that enhance the health of immigrant families and works to block those that bring harm, with a focus on federal legislation and executive action.


Highlighted Work:

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law


The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that strives to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.



National Immigration Law Center


Established in 1979, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of immigrants with low income.



Anti-Racism Consortium

The Institute for Healing Justice & Equity (the Institute or IHJE) aims to eliminate disparities caused by systemic oppression and to improve individual and community health and well-being through systems change and deep community partnership. As part of these core goals, IHJE created a panel of content experts, community advocates, and organizations called the Anti-Racism Consortium. Each consortium member has a history of working to:

  • develop and advocate for anti-racist health policy;
  • address the root causes of health inequities; and
  • develop programs and interventions that address multiple levels of medical racism, structural racism in health and the health care system.

In the Critical Futures podcast series, Consortium members describe their work and perspectives related to anti-racist health policy as well as structural racism in the healthcare system. These interviews are also conducted with a community partner that the members have worked alongside — with the goal of highlighting how to deeply work with community in a way that shares power and that moves us all towards liberation.

Additional Credits

This episode was produced as part of the work of the Anti-Racism Consortium. Support for the Consortium was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Episode Host: Amber Johnson | Director of Community Engagement, IHJE.

Audio Production: KJ Schaeffner | Web Developer + Designer, IHJE.

Podcast Artwork: Wriply M. Bennet.

Theme Music: Future Vision/FineTune Music via Adobe Stock.