Lauren W. Reliford, MSW is a passionate and mission-oriented public and population health professional focused on bridging the gap between social theory, spirituality, research, and practice to the forefront of our major policy decisions. She earned her master’s degree in social work with a combined clinical-macro concentration and focused primarily on the biological impacts of trauma in Black birthing women and the need for policy solutions, such as the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2021 (S. 346/H.R. 959).
Ms. Reliford, MSW currently serves as Political Director for Sojourners, a faith-based advocacy organization that represents and mobilizes thousands of Christian leaders and believers across our country around issues of justice and peace and an award-winning publication dedicated to issues spanning faith, politics, and culture. As political director, she is responsible for developing and implementing Sojourners’ policy strategy, positioning, framing, messaging, and advocacy for outreach and impact on Capitol Hill and the presidential administration.
She worked as a public health lobbyist for ten years prior to grad school, which allowed her to address the racist systemic and institutional structures that prevented whole health (physical, mental, behavioral, emotional) for Black and Brown communities. She credits her time doing frontline social work during the pandemic as a turning point in life and career that demonstrated the real need to address the ineligibility requirements in policies and programs that furthered poverty and oppression for aging and older adults in need.
As a macro social work practitioner, she believes in engaging with the clinical practitioners in the hopes that their direct experience working with her focus populations will help build a bottom-up, middle-out policy formulation process that centers the lived experience of Black and Brown communities. Her hope is to continue the good work and act on her morals and values at a policy level that either creates a space at the table—or builds a new one—for lived experience.