Engagement Manager, Louisiana Public Health Institute
Upama Aktaruzzaman was born in New York City, raised in North Carolina, and has proudly called New Orleans home for seven years. Upama serves as the Engagement Manager at the Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) and works across research projects led by the Research Action for Health Network (REACHnet) to advocate for the patient voice and data democratization in research spaces. Upama also leads the internal Equity Steering Committee at LPHI to drive organizational commitment to centering anti-racist and equitable practices. She received a Master of Public Health with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Political Science from East Carolina University. As a public health professional with extensive experience in community engagement and research, Upama seeks to apply an equity-driven, thoughtful approach to convening disparate stakeholders and to ensure marginalized voices are centered in the various initiatives she leads. Upama sits on the advisory board of the Xavier Center for Minority Health and Disparities, and is a member of various statewide coalitions including the Louisiana Mental Health Coalition. Working in the public health field has allowed Upama to explore the intersection of health and political, social, economic, and historical factors. Upama’s lifelong penchant for history and storytelling has shaped her belief that owning your narrative and the narrative of your community is a tool for empowerment and change. As a daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants, Upama has a particular interest in how waves of immigration have shaped current policies. In her free time, Upama enjoys people-watching in the French Quarter, trying to recreate her mother’s recipes, and sitting on her porch with a tasty beverage and a good book. Depending on the time of year, you may also find her working on a costume with a hot glue gun and an abundance of sequins.