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Janell Dymus-Kurei

2024–25 New Zealand Harkness Fellow ; Director, Tauukiuki; Chief Operations Officer, Hāpai te Hauora – Māori Public Health; Technical Advisor – Hauora, National Iwi Chairs Forum 

Janell Dymus-Kurei headshot

Placement: Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health, Colorado School of Public Health 

Mentor: Spero M. Manson, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Psychiatry; Director, Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health; Colorado Trust Chair in American Indian Health,  

Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus 

Project: Bridging the Health Equity Gap: Indigenous Views on Health Policy Reforms in the U.S. 

Janell Dymus-Kurei, BHSc, is a 2024–25 Aotearoa New Zealand Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. Janell is from the indigenous nation of Te Whakatōhea, a māmā of two, and has a background in Public Health and Health Science. Janell is former Chief Operating Officer at Hāpai te Hauora, Aotearoa's largest Māori public health organization. Her expertise in public health is complemented by her role as Director of Tauukiuki, an indigenous think tank committed to advancing indigenous sovereignty. Her work in this capacity involves not only policy analysis and advocacy but also the fostering of dialogues and partnerships that enhance the well-being of indigenous peoples. 

Dymus-Kurei has been a vocal and influential advocate for indigenous rights. She has collaborated with a diverse range of organizations, including those in the nonprofit sector, academic institutions, and various tribal nations across Aotearoa. Her work focuses on the advancement of indigenous sovereignty, exploring it from multiple angles, including community engagement, legal frameworks, and policy development. 

Project overview: Dymus-Kurei's research is centered on assessing the impact of health legislation on indigenous communities in the United States. She delves deeply into understanding how these policies affect groups such as those of American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Kanaka Ma’oli origin. A significant aspect of her work is analyzing health care policy to evaluate its real-world influence on the health and well-being of indigenous peoples in the U.S. Her qualitative approach involves the use of indigenous research philosophies and principles, which prioritize approaches that are in harmony with indigenous values and perspectives. It involves sitting with a diverse range of stakeholders: decision-makers who shape health policy, leaders from indigenous communities who provide insights into the lived experiences of their people, and health care practitioners who work directly with indigenous populations. 

Dymus-Kurei's focus is to understand the efficacy of these health policies in addressing systemic racial inequalities and in promoting overall health equity among indigenous populations. This work includes a critical analysis of the intersection between health care policies and the unique challenges faced by indigenous communities. This study is expected to contribute significantly to the field of health policy, particularly in providing insights into how legislation can be more effectively tailored to meet the specific needs of indigenous communities. By bridging the gap between policy formulation and its impact on those individual communities, Janell's research is poised to influence future health legislation, ensuring that it is inclusive, equitable, and effective.