Team - National Coordinating Center

The Policies for Action program is administered by the National Coordinating Center, housed in the Urban Institute.

Who We Are

Co-Director
Lisa Dubay

Lisa Dubay is a Senior Fellow in the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center. Dr. Dubay is a nationally recognized expert on the Medicaid and CHIP programs. She is a health services researcher who has focused on evaluating the effects of public policies on access to care, health care utilization, health outcomes and health insurance coverage using quasi-experimental designs. She is currently involved in major evaluations of delivery system reform where she is leading the quantitative impact analysis of the Strong Start II demonstration testing the use of alternative evidence based prenatal care delivery practices on birth outcomes for Medicaid covered women. Dr. Dubay co-directs the Urban Institute’s cross-center initiative on the Social Determinants of Health where she works with researchers across the Institute’s policy centers. She has written extensively on race, income and place-based disparities in health and the environments in which individuals, live, learn, work and play.  

Co-Director
Laudan Aron

Laudan (Laudy) Aron is a Senior Fellow with the Urban Institute’s Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population and co-directs Urban’s cross-center initiative on the Social Determinants of Health. She directed the groundbreaking 2013 study, Shorter Lives, Poorer Health, for the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. That study documented a large and growing US “health disadvantage” affecting almost all Americans. Laudy first joined Urban in 1992 and has spent over 25 years conducting research and policy analysis on a wide range of social welfare issues, including health and disability, education, employment and training, housing and homelessness, and social protection and justice. Her work focuses on how social and economic conditions shape health and well-being, and how social welfare programs and policies (broadly defined) can best support healthy human development across the life course and over time and place.

Deputy Director
Vanessa Forsberg

Vanessa Forsberg is a Research Associate in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she focuses on access to and quality of health care, prevention and public health, and the social determinants of health. Her current and recent projects have involved identifying opportunities for the healthcare system to increase attention to the social determinants of health; tracking and supporting states’ efforts to improve access to preventive services for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries; and evaluating a multi-state demonstration aimed at improving the quality of care delivered to children. Prior to joining Urban, Vanessa researched and wrote on health care reform implementation and public health system transformation as a health policy analyst at the American Public Health Association. Before transitioning to a career in health policy, she worked and interned for six years as a community organizer at two Planned Parenthood affiliates in Southern California.

Program Manager
Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith serves as a Project Administrator in the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a degree in Environmental Sciences. He joined the Urban team in 2014 taking on tasks including proposal development, purchase orders, subcontract/consultant set-up, and budgeting. Prior to working at the Urban Institute he worked in the administrative departments of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. and DC-based project management firm Brailsford & Dunlavey.

Communications Manager
Jillian West Headshot

Jillian West is the Communications Manager for the Urban Institute’s cross center initiative on the social determinants of health. Using digital platforms and traditional media to engage key audiences, she works to increase the visibility of Culture of Health research, and forge ties between researchers, policymakers, journalists, and other stakeholders. Prior to joining Urban, Jillian managed the website and social media strategy at The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit using transparency to improve safety and quality in the U.S. hospital system. Jillian received her Master’s in Strategic Communications from American University.