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Joyce C. Lashof, Physician Who Shattered Glass Ceilings, Dies at 96

Dr. Joyce C. Lashof, who fought for well being fairness and broke limitations as the primary girl to move a state public well being division and the primary to function dean of the Faculty of Public Well being on the College of California, Berkeley, died on June 4 at an assisted residing group in Berkeley. She was 96.

Her daughter, Carol Lashof, mentioned the trigger was coronary heart failure.

Over an extended and diverse profession, family and friends members mentioned, Dr. Lashof at all times prioritized the struggle for social justice. Within the Sixties, she based a group well being heart to offer medical care in a low-income part of Chicago. After her appointment as director of the Illinois Division of Public Well being in 1973, the yr of the Supreme Courtroom’s Roe v. Wade determination codifying the constitutional proper to abortion, Dr. Lashof established protocols to offer ladies entry to secure abortion within the state, Carol Lashof mentioned.

Within the Eighties, Dr. Lashof leveraged her powers as a prime college administrator to prepare initiatives to struggle discrimination in opposition to individuals with AIDS and to protest Apartheid in South Africa.

She championed social justice exterior of her skilled life as properly, taking her household on so many marches for peace and civil rights within the Sixties that they got here to view mass protests as “a household outing,” her son, Dan, recalled. Joan Baez as soon as carried out of their lounge in Chicago, the household mentioned, for a fund-raiser for the anti-segregation Pupil Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

“From the beginning, her work in drugs and public well being was deeply animated by a profound dedication to problems with social justice in our society,” mentioned Nancy Krieger, a professor of social epidemiology at Harvard who labored on AIDS coverage with Dr. Lashof as a Berkeley graduate pupil within the Eighties. “That included points round racism, that included points round social class, that included points round gender.”

After a quick tenure as a deputy assistant secretary on the federal Division of Well being, Training and Welfare and an extended tenure as assistant director of the Workplace of Know-how Evaluation, she was appointed to run Berkeley’s Faculty of Public Well being in 1981. In that put up, Dr. Krieger mentioned, she was not content material to restrict her scope to administrative duties.

On the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1986, for instance, she set her sights on defeating Proposition 64, a California poll initiative spearheaded by the far-right political agitator Lyndon LaRouche that might have mandated mass testing for AIDS and, critics feared, mass quarantines.

Dr. Lashof secured the cooperation of all 4 public well being colleges within the California college system to arrange a coverage evaluation on the initiative, which Dr. Krieger mentioned was their first such joint venture. The evaluation, introduced to the California State Meeting, demonstrated the doubtless dangerous results of the measure and, Dr. Krieger mentioned, contributed to its defeat.

Dr. Lashof’s mates mentioned she approached activism with the thoughts of a scientist. “It was about at all times desirous to deliver the proof to bear on what the issues have been that have been inflicting well being inequities,” Dr. Krieger mentioned.

These efforts typically began on the neighborhood stage. In 1967, Dr. Lashof, then on the college of the College of Illinois Faculty of Medication, opened the Mile Sq. Well being Middle in Chicago, a group well being clinic financed by the federal Workplace of Equal Alternative that offered medical care to an impoverished space of town.

“She was one of many key individuals in serving to get group well being facilities federally funded and viable on this nation,” Dr. Krieger mentioned.

The Mile Sq. heart, the second such group well being heart within the nation, by no means achieved the identical stage of renown as the primary, in Mound Bayou, Miss., which made Dr. H. Jack Geiger, one if its founders, nationally recognized.

“Joyce typically was overshadowed, specifically by males who have been extra charismatic at a time when sexism was extra frequent,” mentioned Meredith Minkler, a professor emerita of well being and social habits at Berkeley who labored with Dr. Lashof on social justice points through the years. “However she wasn’t involved about being within the limelight. She was involved about creating change.”

Joyce Ruth Cohen was born on March 27, 1926, in Philadelphia, the daughter of Harry Cohen, an authorized public accountant whose dad and mom have been Jewish immigrants from Ukraine, and Rose (Brodsky) Cohen, a homemaker who was born in Ukraine and served as a volunteer with the Hebrew Immigrant Help Society, serving to settle German Jewish refugees in the USA throughout and after World Struggle II.

“Her mom clearly instilled in her an ambition to take a full function in society,” Dan Lashof mentioned. “She had been keen on drugs from an early age, and sooner or later mentioned she wished to be a nurse. Her mom mentioned, ‘Nicely, if you happen to’re going to be a nurse and do all that work, you may as properly be a health care provider and be in cost.’”

However after graduating from Duke College with honors in 1946, she discovered her path to prime graduate medical packages blocked. Many then restricted the variety of Jewish candidates they accepted and, because the warfare ended, have been giving admissions precedence to males coming back from the armed companies, in response to the Nationwide Library of Medication. She lastly earned a spot on the Girls’s Medical Faculty of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

She married Richard Ok. Lashof, a theoretical mathematician, in 1950. By the mid-Fifties, each she and her husband have been junior school members on the College of Chicago. In 1960, she as soon as once more confronted gender discrimination when the division chairman denied her a promotion.

“The chair knowledgeable me that he couldn’t suggest a lady for a tenure-track appointment, particularly a married girl, as a result of she undoubtedly would comply with her husband wherever he would go,” Dr. Lashof mentioned at a well being convention in 1990. “C’est la vie.”

Undeterred, she joined the college on the College of Illinois Faculty of Medication. There she was appointed to direct a research of well being wants, a venture that led to her work creating group well being facilities.

Along with her kids, Dr. Lashof is survived by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2010. Their eldest daughter, Judith Lashof, died of breast most cancers in 2018.

Within the early Eighties, Dr. Lashof donned a cap and robe to march in a protest urging the College of California to divest from South Africa. She was, Dr. Minkler mentioned, the one campus dean to take action.

“She would stick her neck out,” Dr. Minkler mentioned. “It didn’t matter who she wanted to cross.”

When she was 91, Dr. Lashof carried an indication that learn “Finish the Muslim Ban Now” at a protest in Alameda, Calif., in opposition to the Trump administration’s ban on journey to the USA by residents of 5 predominantly Muslim nations.

Towards the top of her life, Dr. Lashof was heartened by the numerous advances in social justice that had been made through the years, Carol Lashof mentioned. However in latest months, she was aghast to listen to that the Supreme Courtroom was contemplating overturning Roe v. Wade.

“She was completely baffled,” Carol Lashof mentioned. “She simply checked out me and mentioned, ‘How may which have occurred?’”

Dr. Lashof’s many accomplishments have been all of the extra important as a result of she was a lady.

“Breaking quite a few glass ceilings was crucial in her profession,” Dr. Minkler mentioned, “and it was one among her most necessary legacies.”

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