The Orange County Women’s Health Project is holding its first Women’s Health Policy Summit at UC Irvine on Tuesday, May 15, to identify needs and priorities related to women’s health issues in the nation’s sixth-largest county.

The event will take place at the Student Center and bring together a diverse group of health professionals and administrators, nonprofit and public agency staff, educators and researchers, and others concerned about women’s health in Orange County. The public is invited to attend.

Highlighting the summit will be a presentation by Brittany Goettsch — who recently earned a master’s degree in public health at UCI — called “A Snapshot of Women’s Health in Orange County” that evaluates local women’s health data culled from a variety of sources.

Diana Bonta, president and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation, and Terri Thorfinnson, chief of the California Office of Women’s Health, will deliver keynote speeches on health policy and opportunities for women’s health under healthcare reform.

“This summit marks the beginning of a process to engage the community to identify policy priorities and develop recommendations that address gaps and disparities affecting women’s health,” said Allyson Sonenshine, founding director of the Orange County Women’s Health Project.

Established in 2010 by five local women — including UCI’s Susan Bryant, retired vice chancellor for research; Karol Gottfredson, coordinator of the Department of Education’s intern teacher credential program; and Ellen Olshansky, nursing science professor and director — the OCWHP aims to facilitate and sustain improvements in women’s health in Orange County. To date, it has united more than 25 community-based organizations and individuals who have met monthly to plan the summit and chart the future direction of the project.

“In many ways, our society has become too complacent about issues related to women’s health,” Olshansky said. “In fact, women have concerns not only about specific health problems, but also about access to quality care for those problems. Our Women’s Health Policy Summit will address these issues with an eye toward influencing important policy decisions.”

The all-day event, which begins at 8 a.m., features a welcome by U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez and afternoon sessions on issues disproportionately affecting Orange County women, such as breast and cervical cancer, domestic violence and teen reproductive health. For more information and to register, visit

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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