BOSTON – Natalia Linos, a Democrat running for Congress in Massachusetts’ 4th District, spoke to The National Herald about why she decided to run at this time. A prominent Harvard-trained epidemiologist, social justice advocate, and mother of three, Linos is also Executive Director of the Harvard FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.
Born in Cleveland, OH, Linos graduated from The American Community Schools (ACS) high school in Athens and went on to pursue her undergraduate degree at Harvard College with a degree in Social Anthropology. She later returned to Harvard School of Public Health for her postgraduate studies, earning two more degrees, a Master’s in Science and a Doctor of Science (ScD) in Social Epidemiology. She worked for many years at the United Nations, but also as a policy advisor to the Commissioner of Health of the City of New York, where she led the development of many initiatives to address poverty, discrimination, and health. She lives in Brookline, MA with her husband Paul and their three children, Amalia, Leonidas, and Alexandra.
The entire interview follows:
The National Herald: Why did you decide to run for Congress and why are you the right person for the job?
Natalia Linos: I joined this race in April because as an epidemiologist, a mother of three young children, and the Executive Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard, I know that the decisions of our politicians over the next few years are going to determine whether a whole generation of Americans is lost, or whether we can recover from this pandemic as a stronger and healthier nation. Like many of us, I have been frustrated by the Trump administration’s inadequate response to the COVID crisis and gap in leadership. There are currently only 11 scientists in Congress, and I hope to be the 12th. I’ve spent my career working in and with governments to move the needle on challenges ranging from poverty to climate change to mental health, and I would be proud to bring that expertise to Congress and be a voice for the 4th District.
TNH: How have people responded so far to your candidacy? Have you heard from members of the Greek-American community?
NL: Greek-Americans from Massachusetts and beyond have been reaching out and have been very encouraging. I am so grateful for their support! Many are optimistic that my background as an epidemiologist provides me with a unique perspective during a global pandemic and want to see a scientist in Congress. At the same time, I know that our community is looking for a representative that embraces Hellenic ideals of democracy and justice. I am guided not only by my heritage but also my dedication to human rights and am concerned about the continued occupation of Cyprus, the denial of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s religious freedom, and the significant human rights violations in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. I look forward to working with Representatives Sarbanes, Titus, Bilirakis, Crist, and Pappas, as well as many others not of Greek-American heritage to make sure that human rights, including freedom of religion, belief, and cultural pluralism are prioritized.
Candidate for Congress Natalia Linos with her three children Amalia, Leonidas, and Alexandra. (Photo Provided by Natalia Linos)
TNH: What are your thoughts about the current crisis, and what are some measures that need to be taken to overcome it?
NL: COVID has taken the lives of over one hundred thousand Americans, has left millions unemployed, and has disrupted daily life for everyone. The steps that Congress will take in the months ahead will have both direct and indirect impacts on people's health, their livelihoods, the economy, and human rights. I see this as a moment to re-imagine what kind of society we want to live in and re-build our economy and our country. As a social epidemiologist, I know that health is not just the absence of illness. My platform is centered on bringing science-based leadership to Congress around three priorities: building healthy communities that foster the well-being of individuals and families; ensuring shared prosperity and equality in the workplace; and protecting the health of our planet from climate change, air pollution and toxic chemicals.
TNH: How can people support your campaign?
NL: We have over 150 volunteers and counting, and are always eager to recruit more! People can sign up to volunteer or donate to my campaign at www.nataliaforcongress.com. We welcome donations of any size up to the legal limit of $2,800 for the primary – truly every little bit helps. More importantly, however, I’m asking for the support of your readers in spreading the word to their friends and networks so that we can signal to Congress and to our nation that people are ready and eager for science-backed leadership in Congress.