The Institute is an interdisciplinary collective of researchers that engages academic and practice stakeholders in developing strategies and partnerships to change policy, encourage stakeholder participation, and provide training to enhance the capacity of the university and the broader community to eliminate inequities in health and well-being. 

Kira Hudson Banks, Ph.D

IHJE Co-Founder, Director of Healing Justice

Dr. Kira Banks is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University, an APA-accredited Clinical Psychology doctoral program. Her research examines the experience of discrimination, its impact on mental health and intergroup relations.

Expertise: How discrimination impacts mental health; Training models for helping professions to promote equity and cultural humility; Intergroup relations.

Highlighted Work: “Is Your Company Actually Fighting Racism, or Just Talking About It?”


Keon Gilbert, DrPH

IHJE Co-Founder, CoDirector of Equity and Policy

Dr. Keon Gilbert is an Associate Professor at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice, in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education. His research is focused on several areas: social capital, health disparities, African American Men’s health, and interventions to prevent chronic diseases.

Expertise: Health disparities; Social capital; African-American men’s health; health promotion and disease prevention interventions for chronic diseases.

Highlighted Work: “Racism: Science and Tools for the Public Health Professional”


Amber Johnson, Ph.D

IHJE Co-Founder, Director of Community Research Ethics

Amber Johnson, is an award-winning Associate Professor of Communication and Social Justice at Saint Louis University. Johnson is also the creator of The Justice Fleet ™, a mobile social justice museum that fosters healing through art, dialogue and play. 

Expertise: Humanizing Equity; Narratives of Identity; Social justice in digital media, popular media, and everyday lived experiences; Relationship between healing justice and equity.

Highlighted Work: “African American Communication: Examining the Complexities of Lived Experiences”


Ruqaiijah Yearby, J.D., M.P.H.

IHJE Co-Founder, Executive Director, Co-Director of Equity and Policy

Ruqaiijah Yearby is a full professor and member of the Center for Health Law studies at Saint Louis University School of Law. 

Expertise: Health Disparities and Civil Rights Laws; Health Equity and Health Justice Framework; Structural, Political, and Social Determinants of Health; Bioethics; Racial Equity Frameworks and Tools.

Highlighted Work: “Assessing Legal Responses to COVID-19”


Charysse Gibson, MA, MPH


Charysse Gibson enjoys working with data, programming, geospatial information systems, and technology to serve and empower communities. Growing up as a Third Culture Kid, she has a passion for learning about and finding ways to communicate between cultures to help explore creative ways to break down barriers for people to thrive

Expertise: Biostatistics and epidemiology; Geographic Information Systems; Community development and racial reconciliation; Intercultural relations.


Crystal Lewis, J.D., MPH

Health Equity and Policy Fellow

Crystal Lewis has several years of social justice and legal experience. She is currently working on projects with the Institute which include: Racism as a Public Health Crisis, Worker Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pregnancy Discrimination in the workplace, and Wage Pass Through laws for Direct Care workers. 

Expertise: Public Health Law; Policy Surveillance and Legal Epidemiology; Legal Research; Multidisciplinary Collaboration.


Michelle Rolfsmeyer

Program Director

Michelle Rolfsmeyer has extensive experience in non-profit and social service work, both as a frontline worker and program manager. She has dedicated her career to supporting vulnerable communities, and is excited to be a part of the Institute’s work and mission.

Expertise: Program administration, development and collaboration; child and family services; frontline worker selection, support, and training.


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