Institute for Families in Society

Faculty and Staff

Sarah Gareau

Title: Senior Research Associate/Maternal & Child Health Policy Analyst
Department: IHPR
Institute for Families in Society
Phone: 803-777-5236
Sarah Gareau

In 2001, I began working as a health educator for the Boys & Girls Club in Akron, OH where I saw firsthand the impact of policy on people. Federal mandates requiring mothers to return to work left children fending for themselves at our after school and summer programs. Some youth wandered towards other, less protective communities - changing the trajectory of their individual lives, the safety of the neighborhood, and cost right back to society.

Addressing these political and social determinants of health in order to improve health equity continues to be my passion. For the decade that followed my work at the Boys & Girls Club, I had the privilege to earn my doctorate with a cognate in women’s health policy, became MCHES certified, evaluated state education policy, improved access to health education and reproductive health services through grassroots mobilization, mentored students by directing a master of public health program, and served as a leader at the American Public Health Association through my work with the Women’s Caucus.

I am currently the IFS Maternal and Child Health Lead where I am responsible for writing technical reports and policy briefs primarily related to maternal and infant health outcomes and access to health care for the uninsured. This job has allowed me to fulfill my passion of having on-the-ground practice, public health science, and health policy converge. I am particularly interested in how we can decrease maternal morbidity for our most vulnerable women in SC through improved policy, provider practice, collaboration, and patient activation.

Over time, I have realized that often the greatest impact one can make to move the social justice needle happens behind the scenes through the provision of data that shapes policymakers’ minds. However, without the individuals, families, and communities, there is no data or need for policy. In upcoming work, I hope to better share the stories behind our data in order to uplift the voices of those we ultimately serve in order to impact potentially greater change.

In my spare time, I am busy raising my two sons, Teddy and Paddy, with my husband, Brandon, enjoy camping and advocating for women’s health, and imagine myself one day flipping houses for HGTV.