Reach out aggressively: An interview with Dorotha Love Hall

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dorotha Love Hall, PhD, CIP, who serves as a member of PRIM&R’s Diversity Advisory Group.

Dorotha Love Hall has been a PRIM&R member for three years. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. She then when on to earn her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Arkansas Little Rock and her PhD in Public Health Administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She is currently employed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she serves as the Acting Country Director for Angola. In this position, she facilitates and manages all research activities and behavior surveillance studies conducted for CDC Angola.

Joanna Cardinal (JC): When and why did you join the field? 
Dorotha Love Hall (DLH): I joined the field in August 2007 when I began work with the Division of Global HIV/AIDS Science Office. One of my primary tasks was reviewing documents for human subject issues.

JC: What skills are particularly helpful in a job like yours? 
DLH: The ability to conduct an objective review of activities and the ability to not allow personal knowledge of the submitter or program to “cloud your judgment.” Impartiality is imperative to ensure the protection of human subjects. Being able to take a stand and argue for the protection of research participants is crucial for ultimate performance of my duties.

JC: Tell us about one or more articles, books, or documents that have influenced your professional life. 
DLH: My professional life was influenced by the book by David Felshul, Miss Evers’ Boys. The reality of the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee was quite an ‘eye opener’ for me.  I faced the fact that the government could and has used its power to harm innocent people. I had to acknowledge the fact that “to some people, science is more important than the life of a human being.”

JC: Have there been any PRIM&R events or talks that you have attended that have significantly impacted your approach to your work? If so, what were they and how did they influence you? 
DLH: Yes, I attended the pre-conference program titled Listening to the Voices of Minorities and Researchers on Building Trust and Capacity for Respectful Engagement. The instructors presented a genuine sense of candor about the topic. The discussion and the various perspectives presented expressed many of my own concerns. I was pleased that PRIM&R found the topic worthy of presentation. I was even more pleased to learn about PRIM&R’s ongoing collaboration with the group who presented the session.

JC: How has membership in PRIM&R’s community of research ethics professionals helped you to advance in your career? 
DLH: Through PRIM&R I have had the opportunity to meet renowned authors and many people with a genuine concern for the protection of human subjects in research.

JC: Why is the issue of diversity important to you? 
DLH: Diversity is important because this world is made up of so many different people, coming from so many different backgrounds, each with so much to contribute. The world can only be a better place if everyone understands the importance of diversity and everyone who wishes to do so can contribute. Diversity is important to some people “for the money”—they contribute and support diversity because it just happens to be their job. Others support diversity because they have lived through prejudices and inequitable treatment, and they want to alleviate this as much as possible. And still others feel people simply have a right to expect that they will be given an equal opportunity. Diversity is important to me for all the reasons listed above and because I believe that the rejection of the contribution of any person, could delay the resolution of major problem and/or issues.

JC: Why did you agree to serve on PRIM&R’s Diversity Advisory Group (DAG)? 
DLH: Because I want to contribute to the development of any initiative that might make the world a more equitable place.

JC: What would you suggest to readers who are looking to strengthen the diversity of their institution, organization, or company? 
DLH: Reach out aggressively. You might find what you need in places you least expect.

JC: What is something you know now that you wish someone had told you when you first entered this field? Or, what is an example of a lesson you had to learn the hard way? 
DLH:  I now know that just because someone “talks about diversity” and say that they “stand against prejudice” does not mean that these things (diversity and equitable treatment) are really important to them.

Interested in hearing more from the DAG? Join us on December 6 at the 2012 AER Conference for Grand Finale 7 -The Uncomfortable Conversation: Talking about Diversity.

Your thoughts on this important topic are welcome. To share your perspective on diversity with the DAG, please leave a comment or email