Chris Kochtitzky, MSP
Name: Chris Kochtitzky, MSP
Title: Senior Advisor, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO)
Occupation: Urban Planner
Years at CDC: 26
Public Health Agent of Change Service Record:
How have you worked to advance health equity?
One highlight is finalizing the integrated framework, published in Making Healthy PlacesExternal, which connected assessment processes to increase environmental justice for all populations. We can improve the health of lower income residents, older adults, and persons with a disability simultaneously with a single Complete Streets PolicyCdc-pdfExternal or improvements to Public Transit Systems. These actions help to maximize positive change.
What are you currently doing or have done in your career to reduce health disparities?
I am very proud of my work on the STAR Community Rating SystemExternal. STAR helps communities with best practices to improve sustainable community conditions in Environmental JusticeCdc-pdfExternal, Equity in Services & AccessCdc-pdfExternal, and Integrating Health and Community SustainabilityExternal. I also worked on FitWelExternal, a certification system that optimizes buildings to support health. FitWel also qualifies access to Fannie Mae’s Healthy Housing RewardsExternal™ program which provides an interest rate discount to multifamily affordable housing borrowers that invest in the health of their residents, as did the Edgewood Court Apartments in AtlantaExternal recently.
How can we work to make achieving health equity a Mission: Possible?
First, we can continue to work with partners like the Community Preventive Services Task ForceExternal to identify and disseminate the rigorous science in the Community GuideExternal along with providing practical Community Strategies for implementation. Second, we can redefine the terms “equitable communities” and “environmental justice” to include BOTH the “absence of harmful conditions” such as pollution and gentrification AND the “presence of positive community attributes,” like walkable streetscapes and access to healthy, affordable food. Third, we can help break down the silos between program areas such as Disability and Health, Healthy Aging, and Environmental Justice – both within CDC and within our partners. Fourth, we can encourage our partners and stakeholders to use CDC Community Engagement Tools such as the CDC Principles for Community EngagementCdc-pdf and the Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) all the time. Finally, we can encourage staff within CDC and outside to reach beyond their sector and comfort zone and meet colleagues in community planning, transportation, housing, environmental protection, etc. who have so much to offer in addressing various Social Determinants of Health.