Laura Gibbs, CRHESI Affiliate, Community

Hello! My name is Laura Gibbs and I am very excited to be a CRHESI Affiliate. I want to change the way people think about the way the world could and should work so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full health potential – and that’s exactly the impact of CRHESI’s work. I am passionate about integrating evidence and lived experience to produce more accessible systems and equitable health outcomes. As an evaluator with ten years’ experience working in local public health and the provincial mental health and substance use care system, I work to understand the ways the social systems we create influence how people seek, access, receive, and benefit from services. I would love to stop finding the same thing: that the experiences of living are unjustly influenced by the colour of their skin, the language that they speak, their gender, and a myriad of other things that shouldn’t negatively influence their lives.  

For me, it’s not just about making services better, it’s about making everything better: but how? We know the health and social systems we have in place aren’t working for most people and the system flaws are fatal. This isn’t news. What we need is to make people want to change them for the better. I’m interested in re-thinking how we do research and evaluation and communicate the findings. I want to make these inequities so unacceptable that it’s not enough to make a small change or two or demand large-scale changes. I want people to be moved to create new, more equitable, and sustainable systems. What lessons can we learn from marketing, politics, and grassroots movements? Are we getting the right information to the people who can make those big changes? 

I’m also passionate about changing the way we do evaluation so that we aren’t reproducing those inequities. I’m interested in exploring new ways to incorporate the lived experience and traditional knowledges of communities, clients, and providers in our assessments of what interventions work, who they work for, and how they produce equitable outcomes. How do we tap into the wisdom of others? What pushes our own methodological comfort zones? It’s time to look at the world of research and evaluation differently.