Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Announces Nyla Ruiz and Marielle Matthews as the Public Health arm of the Department

Office of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Announces Nyla Ruiz and Marielle Matthews as the Public Health arm of the Department



July 22, 2021

Contact: Tyeastia Green



Burlington, VT – Director Tyeastia Green today announced the addition of two public health professionals in the Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (REIB), Nyla Ruiz, the city’s first Public Health and Engagement Manager, and Marielle Matthews, the city’s first Public Health Equity Manager.

“This is exciting as we embark on the work of Racism as a Public Health Emergency, and focusing on social determinants of health,” said Director Green. “The REIB office as a whole will focus on five racial equity domains; economy, education, health, housing, and justice. The addition of Nyla and Marielle will increase our impact city-wide.”

Mayor Miro Weinberger added, “Structural racism has shaped the systems of our nation and community for far too long. Here in Burlington, we have shown through the pandemic that by sharing a vision, and by focusing on data and collaboration, we can forge remarkable progress on even our toughest challenges. With the addition of these two, skilled members of the City team, we will grow our capacity to lead collective, regional action to eliminate stark disparities in health outcomes.”

Nyla Ruiz is a recent graduate from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill where she earned a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in Health Equity, Social Justice, and Human Rights.

Ruiz previously worked as a research assistant at East Carolina University in the Department of Health Promotion and Education, where she assisted in two research projects: (1) identifying barriers to health, specific to Eastern North Carolina and (2) identifying determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in relation to severe maternal morbidity. Additionally, she worked collaboratively with the Orange County Health Department in North Carolina to develop deliverables to advance racial equity within the department.

 Ruiz also brings management experience from her time at UNC Chapel Hill, where the scope of her work included managing program planning processes, program assessment and evaluation, data visualization, and communicating with necessary stakeholders and partners.

Ruiz is enthusiastically looking forward to her new role at the City of Burlington, “I've always been passionate about improving the health of Black and Brown people. I appreciate the current space the country is in right now regarding addressing racism in all forms. In order to create change, we have to acknowledge the country's history, how that history has shaped, and continues to shape our current landscape, and work collaboratively with historically excluded and marginalized groups to imagine and create a more equitable system."

Currently residing in North Carolina, coming to Burlington is a big change, but a welcomed one. “I will be new to Burlington--and Vermont more broadly, but I am really excited about this new experience! I'm looking forward to learning about and engaging with Burlington's BIPOC community. Additionally, I'm looking forward to working with my new team in the REIB office, as well as forming relationships with key collaborators in the city to advance racial equity for Black and Brown folks."

Marielle Matthews began working for the city February 2, 2021 in the Innovation and Technology department, as the Public Health Equity Manager. She moved over to the REIB office July 1, 2021. "I'm very fortunate to have this position shift into the Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (REIB) Office, a department that is squarely focused on anti-racist work. The work of the REIB intertwines with every social determinant of health – it is public health work," said Matthews.

Marielle holds a Master’s in Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill. She is a public health professional who is passionate about health equity, substance use prevention, food systems, and environmental health. “Undoing the effects of racism from a public health lens is my passion; it’s what I’ve focused my professional and personal life on,” said Matthews. She comes to this role with a wealth of knowledge that will greatly impact Racism as a Public Health Emergency.

Marielle previously worked as a Senior Project Director for Counter Tools in North Carolina. There she managed a team of three directors, lead multi-state projects focusing on substance use in military populations, cultivated relationships with public health prevention leaders across the country, and managed statewide tobacco control projects with state departments of health in Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Indiana, and Rhode Island. Marielle also worked on projects related to alcohol, cannabis, and healthy food environments.

 “I’m excited and humbled by this opportunity to work with Burlington communities and the City government to advance public health equity. Public health as an institution has to turn its eye inward for ways that it has created and exacerbated racial health disparities, and this position provides the opportunity to facilitate that conversation. As a white woman, I am conscious of my role in both that exacerbation and obligation in dismantling harmful structures. I'm eager to learn from this community and grow together."

Marielle is also a data steward, well versed in qualitative and quantitative research methods, focuses on data collection methods, creating data displays, building coalitions, and teaching place-based public health approaches to complicated health issues such as diet, exercise, and substance use.    

Marielle Matthews' resume is available here

Nyla Ruiz's resume is available here


Marielle Matthews

Nyla Ruiz

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City Department: 
Mayor's Office