Melanie Tervalon MD, MPH ’86 is a healthcare professional with over 30 years of experience as a program director, advisor, teacher, clinician, strategist, and consultant. As a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, she founded the Multicultural Curriculum Program to train doctors to set aside their pre-conceived notions about patients. She currently serves as a consultant, crafting strategic plans for program and funding initiatives, providing expert knowledge in the field of culture, race, ethnicity, and identity in health and health services, and providing individual coaching.
Secrets for success
Lead with love and actively participate in the cultural and political dialogues, debates, change making activities of the day. Be in and of the work of community with respect and gratitude. Never forget history and the ancestors who made it possible for us to do the work we do now, and to live the lives we live now. Organize.
Public health dream team
Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Esperanza Tervalon Garrett and Angela Davis. These Black people represent the constellation of necessary intellectual and practical skill sets to look at the past and the present, to analyze with a fierce and loving warrior focus on what is best for humanity, and creatively imagine ways to combine the best lessons from battlefront on the ground in our communities with the best lessons from scholars. We need it all. And we need the skill sets of negotiation and crisp, clear public speaking and writing, and organizing that changes policies and we need the sense of humility to work and search together through the vast unknown of what is and isn’t in the hopes that we can make our degrees mean something for the future of humanity.
A change to one U.S. policy that would transform public health
Legal and educational institutions across the nation are required by law to abolish the infrastructures that maintain structural racism, sexism and classism in the county. Why? By releasing the grip of these infrastructures, access to the rich resources of this nation can begin to find their way to the people of our communities for whom those resources belong.