When Dr. Patricia Brett learned that research does not always account for the unique health needs of women, she had a reaction familiar to other new friends of Women’s Health Research at Yale.
“I did a little reading and was shocked to learn that health researchers were not regularly studying the health needs of women or sex-and-gender differences,” Brett said. “Or that studies in the past had often been conducted only on men. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I have now learned something new.”
As WHRY’s newest Council Member and a retired educator, Dr. Brett now hopes to share this same epiphany with others.
“I want to connect to communities — particularly communities of color — spread the word, and get them involved,” Brett said. “I will work with anybody I can to help promote this cause.”
Dr. Brett grew up in Washington, D.C., before moving to Connecticut in 1995 amid a 40-year career in education. She earned her Ph.D. in education and an advanced degree in special education from George Washington University, her M.Ed. in educational psychology from Howard University, and her B.A. in secondary education and language arts from West Virginia State College.
In Connecticut, she worked to advance student equity and led numerous initiatives while serving as Assistant Superintendent of Manchester Public Schools, Director of Pupil Services for Guilford Public Schools, and Executive Director of the New Haven Public Education Fund.
Dr. Brett demonstrated a passion for the education and well-being of children, often drawing on her expertise with psychology, including extensive collaboration with mental health and social service agencies at state and local levels.
“I have always said there is nothing wrong with getting a checkup from the neck-up,” she said. “For people who keep their psychological issues inside, it’s like you are carrying luggage. It just weighs you down and can affect your physical health.”
She plans to bring her educational insights to WHRY.
“A quality education produces a quality life,” Brett said. “It opens doors for opportunities.”
As she joins the council, Dr. Brett hopes to extend better opportunities for health and well-being to the communities served by the center, regardless of sex, gender, race, or ethnicity.
“Every time I met with one of the council members, I learned something new,” Brett said. “I thought, what a wonderful team of people to work with for such an important issue.”