On April 28, Jennifer Lee, a PhD student in the Community Health and Health Policy track, successfully defended her dissertation, “The House We Built in Challenging the Status Quo: House and Ballroom Community Leadership and Health Justice.” Her dissertation committee was chaired by Professor Christian Grov, with Drs. Alexis Pozen and Sean Arayasirikul serving as committee members.
Lee’s doctoral work centered on the House Ball Community—an underground subculture that offers gender and sexually expansive people of color a space to thrive and live in their truths.
“Health is not just the absence of disease but rather how a community articulates how they understand their own holistic health and wellness that matters,” Lee says. “Moreover, challenging the status quo means decolonizing our minds around a complicated history of racial and cultural tension that impact health where surface attempts to create health equity mask this façade. Together, we can work in solidarity to transform the future of public health by shifting the narrative, and being honest about naming and identifying the structures of domination that are the real risk for communities resisting multiple intersecting oppressions.”
After graduation, Dr. Lee plans to continue her social and health justice work and to continue at the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.