Wanda Thruston, a clinical assistant professor and special assistant to the Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the IU School of Nursing in Indianapolis, has been named the interim director of the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy at the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.
Thruston is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, pediatric nurse practitioner, and a registered nurse who worked in child, adolescent, and family health for 40 years as a clinician, administrator, educator, and advocate. She also served as a school board member for MSD of Washington Township from 2008 to 2020.
“Throughout my years as a health care provider, leader, and educator, I have been dedicated to promoting equity and reducing disparities in both the health and education of underserved and underrepresented children, youth, and families in Indianapolis,” says Thruston. “Being the new leader of CRISP allows me to combine my prior and current experiences with leadership, education, and equity to ignite courageous conversations that may spark changes in policy and practices that can improve the life trajectory for the populations in Indianapolis I have cared for the most.”
CRISP’s research focuses on systemic issues at the intersection of social policy and equity. It helps leaders and residents make informed decisions about those issues, including diversity and inclusion, education, housing and homelessness, human services, immigration, neighborhood and community development, public health and safety, and youth and families.
“CRISP’s work not only serves a critical role of informing leaders and those in power about issues that impact everyone in our communities, but it also acts as an educational resource for the public to better understand the complex issues that shape the world and experiences of those around them,” Thruston adds.
“Wanda is an invaluable addition to the leadership team here at PPI,” says PPI Director Tom Guevara. “Her background in health care for vulnerable populations, combined with her community knowledge and relationships, makes her uniquely qualified to lead even deeper and more meaningful conversations and research at the intersection of social policy and health care.”
Thruston replaces Breanca Merritt, CRISP’s founding director, who left in January to become the first chief health equity and ADA officer for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.