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Meet Our Speakers

John Auerbach, MBA, is president and CEO of Trust for America's Health, where he oversees the organization's work to promote sound public health policy and make disease prevention a national priority. Over the course of a 30-year career he has held senior public health positions including as associate director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as the Commissioner of Public Health for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and as Boston’s health commissioner, where he directed homeless, substance abuse, and emergency medical services for the city as well as a wide range of public health divisions. Auerbach was previously a professor of practice in health sciences and director of the Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice at Northeastern University; program director of one of the country’s first community health centers; and director of a clinical training program at a tertiary care safety-net hospital.

Scott Becker, MS, is CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. A veteran of public health events from anthrax, SARS and H1N1 to Ebola, Lung Injuries/Vaping, and now 2019-nCoV, he leads APHL’s response to emergencies and regularly convenes laboratory and federal partners to coordinate activities and resolve logistical issues before they impede response operations. He chairs the Governance Working Group for the Global Laboratory Leadership Program, a collaboration with the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to develop a competency-based curriculum for laboratory leaders. He is a member of the Affiliate Council of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and formerly served as deputy executive director for the Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health.

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, is executive director of the American Public Health Association and is known as one of the nation's most influential physician leaders for speaking passionately and eloquently about the health issues of our time. He previously served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, deputy secretary for public health services, acting commissioner for public health for the District of Columbia, chair of the Department of Community Health and Ambulatory Care at the District of Columbia General Hospital and chief of emergency medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is the author of more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters, a member of the National Academy of Medicine and board member for many organizations. He has repeatedly been voted among the 100 most influential people in health care, a top minority executive in health care and was appointed by President Obama to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.

Stuart Butler, PhD, is a Senior Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings Institution. Before joining Brookings, Butler spent 35 years at The Heritage Foundation, as Director of the Center for Policy Innovation and earlier as Vice-President for Domestic and Economic Policy Studies. He is a board member and Visiting Fellow at the Convergence Center for Policy Resolution, and a board member of Mary's Center, a community health clinic serving families in Washington, D.C. Butler earned a MA in economics and history and a PhD in American economic history from St. Andrews University.

Identified by Time Magazine as “one of the sharpest minds in the House,” Tom Cole is currently serving in his tenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since 2009, Cole has served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where he is currently Vice Ranking Member of the full committee and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Cole is a fifth generation Oklahoman and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation. Since 2009, he has served as the Republican Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus. The National Congress of American Indians has recognized Cole’s distinguished service with the Congressional Leadership award on three different occasions (2007, 2011 and 2017), more than any other member of Congress in the history of the organization. He was inducted into the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Daniel Dawes, JD, is director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine and a professor of health law, policy and management. He is the co-founder of the Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network, or HELEN, a nationwide network of governmental and non-governmental leaders, researchers and scholars focused on bolstering leadership and the exchange of research, information and solutions to advance evidence-based health equity-focused policies and programs. His research focuses on the drivers of health inequities among under-resourced, vulnerable and marginalized communities and is the pioneer of a new approach to examining inequities, the political determinants of health. He is author or two groundbreaking books, "150 Years of ObamaCare" and "The Political Determinants of Health," published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Margo Edmunds, PhD, is Vice President for Evidence Generation and Translation at AcademyHealth, where she leads portfolios on research translation and dissemination, delivery system reform, health information infrastructure, and population health. She also directs the AcademyHealth Center on Diversity, Inclusion, and Minority Engagement. A health policy expert with a clinical background in care management, she has more than 20 years of experience directing high-visibility health policy evaluation and implementation projects and has worked with federal, state and local governments and private sector clients, including foundations and industry associations. She has been a member of the teaching faculty at Johns Hopkins University since 1999, as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management and an Instructor in the Advanced Professional Programs in Communications.

José Ramón Fernández-Peña, MD, MPA, is the director of Health Professions Advising at Northwestern University and American Public Health Association president. Previously, Fernández-Peña was an associate professor (now Emeritus) and the associate chair in the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University. He worked at Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco as director of Health Education and was an associate director for quality management at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City. He is also the founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative, a program to assist immigrant health professionals that has served more than 17,000 people from 168 countries and has assisted thousands in joining the U.S. health workforce. He is a founding member of the steering committee of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations promoting and implementing best practices in the integration of immigrant professionals. He has served as an expert panelist and advised the White House Domestic Policy Council on the economic integration of foreign-trained professionals. Among his many awards: a “Champion of Health Professions Diversity” from The California Wellness Foundation and a White House “Champion of Change” for his work on immigrant integration.

Michael Fraser, PhD, CAE, FCPP, is chief executive officer of The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. He has been advancing ASTHO’s mission as an advocate, voice, and resource for state and territorial public health since August 2016. Prior to joining ASTHO, he served many leadership positions including executive vice president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, CEO of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, and deputy executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials. He also served in several capacities at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He received his doctorate and master’s degrees in sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s in management with a concentration on management, strategy, and leadership from the Eli Broad School of Management at Michigan State University.

Lori Tremmel Freeman, MBA, has been the Chief Executive Officer for the National Association of County and City Health Officials since May 2018, having returned to the organization after previously serving as its Associate Executive Director from 2010-2014. Prior to joining NACCHO, she served as Chief Executive Officer for the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs. While at AMCHP, she received the distinguished HHS Maternal & Child Health Bureau Director’s Award for noteworthy contributions to the health of infants, mothers, children, adolescents and children with special health care needs. She also serves on numerous national advisory groups and boards related to public health. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science from Lock Haven University and a Masters degree in Business Administration and Marketing minor from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Lawrence O. Gostin, JD, LLD (Hon), is University Professor, Georgetown University’s highest academic rank, and Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law. He directs the World Health Organization Center on National and Global Health Law and is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Professor of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. The WHO Director-General appointed Gostin to positions including expert panels on the International Health Regulations and on Mental Health. He served on the Director-General’s Advisory Committee on Reforming WHO, as well as WHO expert advisory committees on pandemic influenza, smallpox, genomic sequencing, and migrant health and on WHO’s Blue Ribbon Panel on global health equity. He co-chairs the Lancet Commission of Global Health Law, served on two global commissions on the 2015 Ebola epidemic and was senior advisor to the UN Secretary General’s post-Ebola Commission. Among his many posts he is Legal and Global Health Editor, Journal of the American Medical Association, an elected lifetime Member of the National Academy of Medicine, and serves on the National Institutes of Health Director’s Advisory Committee on the ethics of public/private partnerships to end the opioid crisis.  

David Grossman, MD, MPH, is is interim senior vice president of social and community health for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals. His more than 30 years of medical and community health experience includes serving as senior associate medical director for community health and external relations for Kaiser Permanente Washington and as national senior medical director for community health for Kaiser Permanente. He served as executive medical leader and research investigator for Group Health Cooperative prior to its transition to Kaiser Permanente through an acquisition in 2017. Previously Grossman was a professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of health services at the University of Washington, and was the director of the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center in Seattle. A board-certified pediatrician, he completed his residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Avenel Joseph, PhD, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in early 2020 as the vice president for Policy. She leads the Foundation’s Policy office and heads its Washington presence; serves as a key member of the Foundation’s senior leadership team; and guides, motivates, and inspires RWJF’s commitment to its policy and government engagement work to help build a Culture of Health. Previously, Joseph served for more than 10 years shaping public policy in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. She began her career on Capitol Hill in 2009 in the U.S. House of Representatives where she worked in both a personal office and on the Natural Resources Committee. She was chief health advisor and then director of policy and oversight for Sen. Edward J. Markey. Joseph received her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at Emory University; graduated with an MS in Developmental Toxicology from the University of Illinois, Urbana‐Champaign; and earned her BS in Animal Sciences from the Pennsylvania State University.

Chrissie Juliano, MPH, is executive director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of the more than 62 million people they serve. As Executive Director, Ms. Juliano advocates for policies and practices to benefit members; facilitates strategic discussions among the members, federal partners, and the public health field; and serves as spokesperson for the Coalition, highlighting the story of our members' work. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Communication from the George Washington University.

Rachel L. Levine, MD, Levine serves as the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she fights every day to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. She’s working to help our nation overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and build a stronger foundation for a healthier future - one in which every American can attain their full health potential. Dr. Levine’s storied career, first in academic medicine, and as a physician then Pennsylvania’s Physician General and then as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, has focused on the intersection between mental and physical health, often treating children, adolescents, and young adults.

More media outlets have turned to Frank Luntz, PhD, to understand the hopes and fears of Americans than to any other political pollster. In both 2011 and 2015, he was the only non-journalist invited to host a debate of the GOP presidential contenders. He also served for five years as a news analyst for CBS News, moving to ABC News in 2017. Luntz was a debate, election day and impeachment commentator on Bloomberg, CNBC and the BBC in 2020, CBS in 2016, Fox News in 2008 and 2012, and MSNBC in 2000. His reoccurring segments on MSNBC/CNBC, “100 Days, 1000 Voices” won the Emmy Award in 2001. Luntz has written, supervised, and conducted more than 2,500 surveys, focus groups, ad tests, and dial sessions for more than 50 Fortune 500 companies and CEOs in more than two dozen countries and six continents over the past 30 years. He has visited more than a half-dozen countries on behalf of the U.S. State Department in the past two years. The author of three New York Times Best Sellers, he was an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at Harvard University and George Washington University. Since 2018, he has taught two courses a year at NYU Abu Dhabi, and he is visiting professor for USC in 2021. 

Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, is president and CEO of the National League for Nursing. Her distinguished career has included serving as federal deputy assistant secretary for health under President Bill Clinton and on the Minority Health Federal Advisory Committee. She is also on the Kaiser Family Foundation Board of Directors and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement Board of Directors. Among her many honors: Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Women Leaders' Luminary Award, the National Center for Healthcare Leadership's Gail L. Warden Leadership Excellence Award and a  “Living Legend” designation by the American Academy of Nursing, their highest honor. She is frequently called on by congressional leaders and policymakers to offer expert perspective and testimony on increasing support for nurse workforce development and education for nurse educators to address the persistent shortage of nurses. A global leader as well, Malone served as general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, a member of the UK delegation to the World Health Assembly; the Commonwealth Nurses Federation; the Higher Education Funding Council for England; and as vice chair of the Brussels-based European Federation of Nurses Association.

Patty Murray is the first female senator from Washington state and has served as a member of U.S. Senate Democratic leadership since 2007. She served as the first female chair of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee during the 112th Congress and as the first female chair of the Senate Budget Committee during the 113th Congress. She is currently Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Never planning to enter politics, in the 1980s a state politician told her she “couldn't make a difference” when she went to Olympia as a parent to advocate for a local preschool program targeted by state budget cuts. Murray responded by organizing a grassroots coalition of 13,000 parents that fought successfully to save the program. She went on to serve on the Shoreline School Board, and in 1988 was elected to the Washington State Senate. In 1992, she ran for the U.S. Senate and ran a grassroots campaign of family, friends, supporters and public interest groups to beat a 10-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives. Murray was re-elected in 1998, 2004, and 2010.

Montrece Ransom, JD, MPH, is director of the National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training. Ransom was appointed as a Presidential Management Fellow and worked at CDC for almost 20 years. For the last 10 years of her service, she led CDC’s public health law related training and workforce development efforts. She is the ABA Health Law Section’s 2019 Champion of Diversity and Inclusion Awardee, and the 2017 recipient of the American Public Health Association Jennifer Robbins Award for the Practice of Public Health Law. She is the President-Elect of the American Society for Law, Medicine, and Ethics and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential. Devoted to helping people reach their human potential, Ransom also mentors new public health practitioners and public health lawyers and is a well-known public speaker and peer-reviewed published author. 

Michael Regan is the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is the first Black man and second person of color to lead the EPA. Regan previously served as secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, where he spearheaded the development and implementation of North Carolina's seminal plan to address climate change and transition the state to a clean energy economy. Under his leadership, he secured the largest coal ash clean-up in U.S. history and led complex negotiations regarding the clean-up of the Cape Fear River, which had been contaminated for years by the toxic chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance, or PFAS. In addition, he established North Carolina's first-of-its-kind Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory board to better align social inequities, environmental protection and community empowerment. He previously served as associate vice president of U.S. Climate & Energy, as Southeast regional director of the Environmental Defense Fund and as a national program manager for EPA.

Susan Rogers, MD, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, is a retired internist from Stroger Hospital of Cook County but continues as a volunteer attending there. She was co-director of medical student programs for the Department of Medicine and received numerous teaching awards from medical students and residents. She is an Assistant Professor of medicine at Rush University, where she continues to be an active member of the faculty. Rogers received her medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Cook County Hospital, where she served an additional year as Chief Resident. She is a past co-president of Health Care for All Illinois. She previously was Medical Director of the Near North Health Service Corp, a FQHC in Chicago and remained on their board for many years after she left her directorship there. Rogers is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a member of the National Medical Association.

Robert Rooks, MSW, is CEO of Reform Alliance. He was co-founder and Chief Executive of Alliance for Safety and Justice, where he led state-based advocacy strategies and campaigns across the nation. In 2019, Rooks established the Campaign Academy for Safety and Justice as a place for justice reformers, especially people of color and those directly impacted by crime and/or incarceration, to develop campaigning skills at the highest level. Grounded in his personal experience of growing up in a community impacted by violence, his work to create trauma recovery centers for victims of violent crime has led to the opening of these centers across the country. Through his work with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, he has helped to build a powerful constituency of crime survivors nationwide who are creating healing communities to advocate for policies that prevent crime and better support survivors. He previously was the Organizing Director for Californians for Safety and Justice and the Criminal Justice Director for the NAACP.

Anne Schuchat, MD, has been Principal Deputy Director of CDC since 2015, serving as acting CDC director in 2017 and 2018. She was Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases from 2006-2015 and Chief of the Respiratory Diseases Branch from 1998-2005. She joined CDC as an Epidemic Intelligence Service officer in 1988. She’s been instrumental in CDC emergency responses including the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019 outbreak of vaping associated lung injuries, the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2003 SARS outbreak in Beijing. She collaborated on meningitis, pneumonia and Ebola vaccine trials in West Africa and surveillance and prevention projects in South Africa. In 2018, she retired from the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service as Rear Admiral.

Frank Sesno is an Emmy Award-winning journalist with more than 30 years of experience reporting from around the world. Well known as bureau chief, anchor, White House Correspondent and CNN talk show host, he is also a nationally renowned moderator who has engaged some of the world’s leading personalities, and he appears regularly on U.S. and international media. Sesno hosts an annual Chesapeake Bay Summit with Maryland Public Television and currently serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he also teaches classes on the art of the interview, journalism ethics, documentary and sustainability reporting. He was previously the school's director for 11 years and created, a multi-platform project that brings students and experts together to examine sustainable innovations that “move the planet forward.” The project is headquartered at the School of Media and Public Affairs.

Lisa Simpson, MB, BCh, MPH, FAAP, is president and CEO of AcademyHealth. A nationally recognized health policy researcher and pediatrician, she is a passionate advocate for the translation of research into policy and practice. Before joining AcademyHealth, she spent eight years as a professor of pediatrics, first as an Endowed Chair in Child Health Policy at the University of South Florida and then as the Director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati. She served as the Deputy Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality from 1996 to 2002, is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and serves on the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholars Program National Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of the Institute for Accountable Care, the National Health Council and the editorial boards for the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research and Healthcare: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation.

Jennifer Taylor, MPH, is the Senior Director of Federal Relations at Families USA, a leading national, non-partisan voice for health care consumers dedicated to achieving high-quality, affordable health care and improved health for all. She is responsible for developing and implementing federal legislative and regulatory strategy to achieve Families USA’s mission through work centered around four pillars of health care: value, equity, coverage, and consumer experience. In this role she engages with administration officials and members of Congress and their staff, as well as national partners and other key health care stakeholders, to achieve meaningful policy change. Prior to joining the Families USA team, she served as Director of Federal Affairs at the National Association of Community Health Centers. She previously worked on Capitol Hill, first as a Health Policy Fellow in the office of Congresswoman Lois Capps, and then as Senior Policy Advisor for Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.

Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. She is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Underwood serves on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and the House Committee on Appropriations. Co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, Underwood is a member of the Future Forum, a group of young Democratic members of Congress committed to listening to and standing up for the next generation of Americans, the Congressional Black Caucus, the LGBT Equality Caucus and the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Prior to her election to Congress, Underwood worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act. Underwood also taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program.

Janet Woodcock, MD, began her long and distinguished FDA career in 1986 with the agency’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research as director of the Division of Biological Investigational New Drugs. She also served as CBER’s acting deputy director, and later as director of the Office of Therapeutics Research and Review. In 1994, she was named director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, overseeing the center’s work that is the world’s gold standard for drug approval and safety.  She has also served in other leadership roles at the FDA, including as deputy commissioner and chief medical officer. With the onset of the COVID-19 public health emergency last year, Woodcock was asked to lend her expertise to “Operation Warp Speed” to develop therapeutics in response to the pandemic. Woodcock was named acting FDA commissioner on Jan. 20, 2021. She has received numerous honors, including: a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015 from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices; the 2019 Biotechnology Heritage Award from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization and Science History Institute; and the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from NORD. 

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