BRIDGING THE HEALTH GAP

About Us

We work with you to create a healthy society through public policy initiatives related to the social determiants of health. We work to reframe public discourse around health, social status, equity, and the social determinants of health in order to build a healthier society.

 
Lauri Andress - MPH, J.D., Ph.DManaging Partner
Dr. Andress has dedicated her career as a public health researcher and policy analyst to public service where her expertise lies in linking scholarly work to social issues. Her goal is to create a better society by connecting research and academic learning to community concerns and eventually public considerations.

As a developer of the "health equity readiness" concept, Dr. Andress is a leading advisor to several government agencies on policies, programs, and competencies related to social and health inequities. The Centers for Health Equity in Wisconsin and Louisville, Kentucky began under Dr. Andress' guidance.

Dr. Andress is the Managing Partner for Andress & Associates, LLC, a U.S. advisory firm on health inequities serving local and state health departments. She holds a Ph.D. in Community Health Science (University of Texas), a Masters of Public Health (University of Texas), a law degree and the Vinson & Elkins Public Interest Fellowship. (South Texas College of Law).

For more than twenty years, she has provided community, media, and government relations to various non-profit organizations, government agencies, and elected officials. Dr. Andress has worked for one of the leading U.S. experts on population health, Dr. Alvin Tarlov, at the Texas Program for Society and Health at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University. As the Director of Operations & Strategic Political Action, her work focused on research and policy initiatives related to the social determinants of health.

Dr. Andress lectures on the public policy process, principles of public administration, American Political Systems, program evaluation, public health laws and policies, social determinants of health, policy framing, and community organizing. Her research interests have included: building and measuring civic capacity; the study of state-level policies on the organization of public health services; the affects of power on marginalized communities; a comparison and analysis of social capital and community building as levers for improved population health; framing public health policies and agenda setting for the social determinants of health in the United Sates and Britain.

During her career, she has served as public information officer for Houston's Department of Health and Human Services; a legislative aide and press secretary in the United States House of Representatives (Texas 18th Congressional District); special projects coordinator for State District 25, Texas House of Representatives; and, Chief of Staff in Houston's City Council-At-large Position 1. In 1997 she served as executive director for a non-profit community-based organization whose mission was to raise awareness about and advocate for the needs of a marginalized community in Galveston, Texas.

Dr. Andress has worked as a journalist and copy editor for several Texas newspapers. She served on the editorial board of a local Texas paper contributing to policy discussions and writing several editorials for the news paper.

Sybil Harvey Benard - MOS, MBAAssociate & Strategic Partner
Sybil Harvey Benard is the Chief Administrative Officer of Andress and Associates. She is also the owner of S. Harvey Enterprises, an organization that focuses on providing entrepreneurs and small business owners training and consulting assistance in administration, marketing, and program direction.

Sybil has served in administration for the Houston's City Council, MD Anderson Hospital, US Patent Services, and other prestigious companies. She has also been a presentation specialist and graphic designer for Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch. Mrs. Benard is also skilled as an Event Coordinator and is part owner of Vendor Connect, an event planning and vendor outsourcing firm. She is also the Director of the Business and Entrepreneur University, which produces a yearly self-employment expo called “Hire Yourself”.

Mrs. Benard attended Tulane University and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science in 1993 and received her Masters of Business Administration from Le Tourneau University in 1999.

 

“ Governments (and communities) should not just pull drowning people out of the river, but they should move upstream and see who or what is pushing them in —they should focus on the determinants of disease and not (just) the disease it self.”

(Using the Investment Triangle-Towards Process Guidelines, 2000 McMahon et. al)
 

Fundamental Beliefs

  • Many groups of Americans are significantly less healthy than others and Americans overall are not as healthy as people in other developed countries.
  • These health differences between groups are health inequities resulting from the unequal distribution of social conditions. The unequal distribution of resources influences people's freedom to lead lives they have reason to value, which in turn has a powerful impact on health and its distribution in society.
  • Health equity requires improvements in the social and economic conditions in which people live and work.
  • Access to medical care or medical advances alone will not decrease these health inequities.
  • Government plays a significant role in determining those public policies that shape the social and economic determinants of health.
  • Improvements in health equity require unprecedented collaboration among many different stakeholder groups, units of government, and health care organizations, including policy-makers and those who promote the strengthening of civil society and communities.
  • Social action is needed to alter public policies that influence health. Achieving pro-health equity polices requires collective social action through the political empowerment of communities.
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Andress & Associates is committed to helping you meet community needs.

Our consulting services work with you to examine, design, implement, and improve your efforts to address health inequities or health disparities.

What are Health Inequities?

  • Health experts now know that people’s health is influenced by what they call the Overall Life Odds of the place where we live, that the quality of jobs or schools or housing or other conditions are all hidden health factors that affect our health.
  • It turns out that the Overall Life Odds, of a place create conditions that have lasting impacts on our health. So the best thing we can do to improve our nation’s health is to invest in communities.
  • Allowing third world conditions in America is not only unwarranted, it explains why our nation’s health is not very good even though we spend more on health care than any other nation.
  • In ways few of us have recognized before now, our health is intertwined with the conditions in the community around us. Only when we work to improve conditions across this community will we truly make great gains in our overall health.
  • Health inequities are disparities that result from a failure to achieve levels of health that, but for lack of action, should be attainable.
 

We will be happy to discuss how we can help your department, organization, or foundation assess its' capacity to address health inequities and design strategies and initiatives that help you help your community.

Please feel free to contact us at (713) 553-8192 or email us.