Healthy Beginnings: The Connection Between Housing and Ohio's Infant Mortality Crisis

Tuesday, November 6: 11:15am – 12:30pm

Current data states that Ohio ranks 39th in the country for infant mortality. In 2016, 1,024 infants died in Ohio. The rate of mortality is more than twice as high for black babies as for white babies. Studies find that housing plays a key role in the health of young children.

Session Materials:

Healthy Beginnings Presentations (6.07 MB Adobe PDF File)

Room Number:



Zach Reat, Health Policy Institute of Ohio
Zach Reat is a Health Policy Analyst at the Health Policy Institute of Ohio. Reat analyzes key health policy issues such as Medicaid, private health insurance and connections between health and social factors including housing and income. Prior to joining HPIO in 2016, Reat worked at non-profit organizations in central Ohio to raise awareness about homelessness and connect Ohioans with benefits, health insurance and free tax assistance. Zach holds a master's of public administration degree from Ohio University and a bachelor's degree from Otterbein University.


Jason Reece, The Ohio State University, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity
Jason Reece is an assistant professor of city and regional planning at the Knowlton School. His research, teaching and professional experience focuses on social equity in city planning, fair housing, health equity and asset-based community development. Reece has acted as an advisor and capacity builder to foundations, non-profits, community organizations and government agencies. He has managed more than $10 million in research initiatives and contributed to more than 110 scholarly or technical publications. His work has been featured in 41 media publications and was an invited guest speaker to more than 300 professional engagements. Reece has worked with partner organizations in more than 30 states in the US and acted as a capacity builder for the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Sustainable Communities Initiative for four years. He currently is President of the Board of Directors for the Parsons Avenue Community Development Corporation.

Jessica Roach, Restoring Our Own Through Transformation
Jessica Roach is the co-founder and executive director of Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT), a Black women-led reproductive justice nonprofit focused on maternal-child health and birthing justice in Columbus, Ohio. Her career has spanned more than 20 years as a former clinical nurse, public health advocate, and independent scholar. Ms. Roach brings a deeply experiential personal and professional perspective to her work. Her research includes structural racism and social determinants of health as well as the impact of intergenerational and historical trauma on African-American health. She has served as a full-spectrum doula, homebirth midwife and assistant, and consultant to various organizations.

Erika Clark Jones, City of Columbus, CelebrateOne
CelebrateOne is a community-wide, collective impact initiative that aims to reduce the Franklin County infant mortality rate and the disparity gap between black and white infant mortality rates by 2020. Infant mortality is a key indicator of a community's overall well-being. Erika leads a coalition of partners including Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, the Columbus Health Commissioner, Columbus area hospitals, the Franklin County Commissioners and several community-based agencies. Erika's career includes 15 years in the Mayor's Office including time as Deputy Director of the Community Relations Commission, Policy Director and Director of the Office of Homeless Advocacy. Additionally, she led the Southern Gateway Initiative to improve neighborhood conditions on Columbus' South Side. Her experience spans across public affairs, public policy, constituent relations and engagement and strategy development and management. A native of Columbus, Erika graduated from Columbus Eastmoor High School, attended the University of Chicago and graduated from Capital University. Additionally, Erika is pursuing a Master's in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Erika is a member of the Vineyard Church of Columbus and resides in Central Ohio with husband Mark Jones, Sr. and their 3 sons.