Meet Our Award Winners: Crystal Pirtle Tyler - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Meet Our Award Winners: Crystal Pirtle Tyler

August 29, 2022

Emerging Leader Award
Crystal Pirtle Tyler

Crystal Pirtle Tyler, Ph.D., M.P.H., brings over 15 years of experience advancing reproductive and maternal health equity. As the Chief Health Officer at Rhia Ventures, she translates the needs of the women and birthing people most affected by systemic inequity into programming that fosters equitable reproductive health products and services.

“My career has focused on addressing the systemic and structural barriers that limit a person’s access to reproductive health and wellbeing,” she says. “I’ve adopted a reproductive justice perspective which uses an intersectional lens to consider the ways in which race, class, and gender affect a person’s reproductive outcomes.” Aligning closely with Health & Medicine’s social justice cornerstone, Dr. Tyler finds it imperative to account for the historical context of inequality in this country and to consider the intersectional ways in which a person’s identity affects their access to power, resources, and health.

Most recently, Dr. Tyler served as the Executive Director of Ci3 at the University of Chicago, a research center addressing the social and structural determinants of adolescent reproductive health and well-being through design, storytelling, play, and policy change.

Dr. Tyler began her career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta first as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer then as an Epidemiologist within the Division of Reproductive Health. There, she served as a subject matter expert on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and translated research to public health and clinical practice.

Following her time at the CDC, Dr. Tyler became the Director of the Michigan Public Health Institute’s Center for Child and Family Health, where she implemented systemic improvements to promote equity in the quality and availability of public health programs. She also served as a Senior Research Leader at IBM Watson Health, where she supported state implementation of Medicaid policy changes to advance maternal and child health outcomes.

“I certainly didn’t select this career seeking awards and recognition, but it’s so personally meaningful to be recognized as an emerging social justice leader in the field,” Crystal shares. “The recent Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v Wade has certainly made this work even more challenging and urgent.”

Dr. Tyler is a trained facilitator and strategic planner who serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of Family Planning. She has published articles in Obstetrics and Gynecology, The Journal of Adolescent Health, Contraception, and The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among others. Dr. Tyler completed her Ph.D. and M.P.H. in Epidemiology at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, respectively, and received a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from Spelman College.

Dobbs overturns 50 years of precedent and criminalizes women and other birthing people for personal decisions that affect their health and futures and equates to medical trauma and reproductive coercion. “It also has ripple effects across the health care, social, and educational sectors and leads to additional births in a system without universal health care, limited or nonexistent paternity leave, and fractured childcare and education systems,” she says. Over the coming years at Rhia Ventures, Dr. Tyler plans to continue her work to advance reproductive health equity for women and other birthing people by engaging the private sector and capital in ways that center equity and incorporate reproductive justice principles. “Abortion access is the floor, not the ceiling.”