He says people need to have a voice in making the changes that will affect their lives and health.
Brian Archie always figured he’d follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become an engineer. Health equity professional was not even in his lexicon.
But, as often happens, life intervened. Archie ended up going to college for business, then found himself working in health care billing and accounts receivable. That’s where he was introduced to the concept of health equity, which led to a slew of community work in the field.
“For me, that was just life. I was not understanding that there’s not healthy food in the corner store, or transportation was an issue because I have access to a car,” he said.
A Niagara Falls native, Archie earned a business degree at Bryant & Stratton College and initially thought he would get into project management. He spent 14 years working in accounts receivable and billing, including seven years with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.
During that period, he joined and became co-chair of Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative, an initiative that promotes physical activity and improved community health.
He also serves as a member of the Niagara Falls Health Equity Task Force and was recently asked to join the NYS Racial Equity Working Group, an eight-member panel that will develop recommendations or legislative actions aimed at reducing racial and ethnic disparities.
“I’m only as healthy as my neighbor is,” he said. “The only way we build a healthier space is by trying to nurture each and every one of us.”
In January, he made a career change to help advance those concepts as well, joining Boston-based People Power Health as community manager for programs and fellowship. The job gives him the chance to teach, coach and train health care professionals how to organize and push for health justice.
The work teaches them how to talk to their patients about voter registration and how to get involved with an end goal of addressing social determinants of health.
“We teach them the power pf public narrative,” he said. “Most people who vote will essentially become engaged in their community if they get to the voting booth.”
Archie chaired the human rights commission for the City of Niagara Falls and also serves on the boards of the NAACP Niagara chapter, the Niagara Falls Housing Authority and the Heart Love and Soul Food Pantry.
He says people need to have a voice in making the change that will effect their lives and health.
“Organizations have been making decisions for a long time for people, good or bad, without asking the people directly affected by what was going on,” he said. “It’s all about how can we empower each other.”
Name: Brian Archie
Day job: People Power Health
Community: Niagara Falls Health Equity Task Force
What keep you up at night: “Knowing that us as individuals if we didn’t focus as much on ourselves, we’d do better together.”
Hero/mentor: “My father, Archie, for reminding me we must stand against racism and to lead with love.”