National Advisory Committee

The National Advisory Committee is a group of highly-regarded experts and leaders who offer vision and guidance to the Policies for Action program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help achieve our mission to build the evidence base around policies, laws, and other regulatory tools in the public and private sectors that can support a Culture of Health. 

Who We Are

Dr. Jewel Mullen

Jewel Mullen, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A. is Associate Dean for Health Equity at Dell Medical School, as well as an associate professor in the school’s population health and internal medicine departments. She also serves as Director of Health Equity at Ascension Seton to help meet health equity goals across its system.

Dr. Mullen is an internist, epidemiologist, public health expert and the former principal deputy assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While at HHS, she also served as the acting assistant secretary for health and acting director of the National Vaccine Program Office during the months between the Obama and Trump administrations. Prior to her time at HHS, Dr. Mullen served for five years as commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Her career has spanned clinical, research, teaching, and administrative roles focused on improving the health of all people, especially those who are underserved. Dr. Mullen is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in building effective community-based chronic disease prevention programs and for her commitment to improving individual and population health by strengthening coordination between community, public health and health care systems.

A former President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Dr. Mullen is a current member of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Editorial Board, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action National Advisory Committee, and, the ChangeLab Solutions Board of Directors. She also is a member of the Study Committee on the Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. A former member of the Advisory Committee to the CDC Director and its subcommittee on health disparities, Dr. Mullen chaired the CDC’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Control Federal Advisory Committee.

Dr. Mullen received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Public Health from Yale University, where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in psychosocial epidemiology. She graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society and completed her residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Mullen also holds a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Daniel E. Dawes, JD

Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., a widely respected author, scholar, educator, and leader in the health equity, health reform, and mental health movements, is executive director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and a professor of health law, policy, and management. He is also the co-founder of the Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network (HELEN), which is a nationwide network of over 2000 governmental and non-governmental leaders and scholars focused on bolstering leadership and the exchange of research, information, and solutions to advance evidence-based health equity-focused policies and programs. 

Professor Dawes’s research focuses on the drivers of health inequities among under-resourced, vulnerable, and marginalized communities, most notably the political determinants of health. He brings a forward-thinking, inclusive, and multidisciplinary approach to health policy, authoring two groundbreaking books, 150 Years of ObamaCare and The Political Determinants of Health, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, which have received critical acclaim and rave reviews. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Google.org, the CDC Foundation, Contakt World, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, and Gilead Sciences, Professor Dawes has led projects in the United States intended to address the disproportionate impact of health inequities on people of color, rural populations, people with disabilities, and other disparate populations. He is currently the principal investigator on three major projects intended to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, including the establishment of a strategic network of national, state, territorial, tribal, and local organizations in the United States known as the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network and the development of a comprehensive data platform to track health inequities and their social and political determinants. 

Professor Dawes serves or served on several boards, commissions, and councils focused on improving health outcomes and elevating health equity in the United States and around the world, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Federal Advisory Committee on Health Disparities, National Center for Civil and Human Rights - Health and Human Rights Institute Advisory Committee, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action National Advisory Committee, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health National Advisory Council, the National Football League/National Football League Players Association National Committee on the Racial Disparities of COVID-19, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Vaccine Consultation Panel. 

SaMeera Fazili

Sameera Fazili, JD, is the Director of Engagement for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta's community and economic development (CED) department. She has spent her career working in domestic and international economic development, with a focus on access to finance and social enterprise. Prior to joining the Atlanta Fed, Fazili served as a Senior Policy Adviser at the White House's National Economic Council where she covered retirement, consumer finance, and community and economic development. Previously, she worked at the Treasury Department on issues of domestic policy ranging from community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to housing finance to small business finance, and then as a senior adviser to the undersecretary for international affairs where she served as Chief of Staff. Before her time in government, Fazili was a clinical lecturer at Yale Law School's community and economic development clinic, where she helped start a CDFI bank and a local anti-foreclosure initiative and expanded the clinic’s work to international microfinance. She also worked at ShoreBank, the nation's first CDFI bank. Fazili’s work in finance has spanned consumer, housing, small business, and microfinance. She received her law degree from Yale Law School and her Bachelor of Arts in social studies from Harvard College.

Darrick Hamilton, PhD

Darrick Hamilton is the director of the doctoral program in public and urban policy, and jointly appointed as a professor of economics and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy and the Department of Economics, The New School for Social Research at The New School in New York.  He is a co-associate director of the Cook Center on Social Equity.

Professor Hamilton is a stratification economist, whose work fuses social science methods to examine the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in education, economic and health outcomes. This includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes.  His scholarly contributions are evidenced by numerous peer reviewed publications, book chapters in edited volumes; opinion-editorial and popular press articles, funded research, public lectures, presentations and symposiums, service to professional organizations, and regular appearance in print and broadcast media.

Rita Johnson-Mills, MS, MPA

Rita Johnson-Mills, MS, MPA, is an Independent Director serving on the Board of Brookdale Senior Living, Inc. (BKD). She chairs the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and is a member of the Investment Committee. Johnson-Mills is a former C-suite business to consumer healthcare executive and business unit CEO for UnitedHealthcare and Centene Corporation. Her background and experience include a combined 30 years of federal, state, and private industry experience of which 15 years she was directly accountable for profitability of health care organizations. Johnson-Mills currently serves as interim CEO, Nightingale Partners, LLC, a Washington, DC based Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund and Advisory Services Business dedicated to improving quality and reducing costs of health care by making investments in social determinants of health for vulnerable Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Johnson-Mills spent almost eleven years in progressive leadership positions with UnitedHealthcare, including CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Tennessee, a health plan serving more than 500,000 government sponsored health care consumers and over $2.7B in annual revenue.

Johnson-Mills previously served as CEO of Managed Health Services and Buckeye Community Health Plan, both wholly owned subsidiaries of Centene Corporation and led the operational turnaround of each health plan. She possesses a strong regulatory background having spent 10 years in progressively expansive leadership roles in the State of Ohio, last of which was Chief, Bureau of Medical Assistance and almost 2 years with CMS, where she served as Director Medicaid Managed Care for the country.

Johnson-Mills is a 2019 NACD Governance Fellow and a Women Inc. Magazine 2019 Most Influential Corporate Director. She is a 2018 Director to Watch and the recipient of numerous honors and accolades, including a 2017 Nashville Business Journal Most Admired CEO award honoree. Johnson-Mills has been featured in numerous publications and journals and is a sought-after public speaker.

Dr. Nancy Lopez

Nancy López, PhD, is a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico (UNM). She directs and co-founded the Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice and she is the founding coordinator of the New Mexico Statewide Race, Gender, Class Data Policy Consortium. Dr. López currently serves as Associate Vice President for the Division of Equity and Inclusion and has served as the inaugural co-chair of the Diversity Council. She was awarded the Inaugural Academic Leadership Academy Fellowship of the Division of Equity and Inclusion, UNM. Dr. López is Secretary of the American Sociological Association (ASA) and Vice President of the Sociologists for Women in Society.

Dr. López has received Foundation grant funding for a mixed method study of the role of ethnic studies curriculum and cultural relevant pedagogy in reducing complex intersectional inequalities in high school, served on over 75 PhD/MA committees, and given over 130 seminars on at national conferences, invited lectures, and community gatherings. She has been recognized for her contributions to engaged scholarship through the ASA William Foote Whyte Distinguished Career Award for Sociological Practice and Public Sociology and is the author of Hopeful Girls, Troubled Boys: Race and Gender Disparity in Urban Education, which examines the race-gender experiences of Dominicans, West Indians, and Haitians in New York City.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Regional Studies in Latin America from Columbia University, and a Master of Philosophy and Doctorate in Sociology from the Graduate School & University Center (City University of New York).

Jamila Michener

Jamila Michener, PhD, is an associate professor of Government at Cornell University. She is co-director of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, co-director of the Politics of Race, Immigration, Class and Ethnicity (PRICE) initiative, and board chair of the Cornell Prison Education Program. 

Professor Michener studies poverty, racial inequality, and public policy and is author of Fragmented Democracy: Medicaid, Federalism and Unequal Politics (Cambridge University Press). Her research has been supported by the Institute for Research on Poverty, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Professor Michener’s public writing has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vox, Salon and numerous other outlets. As an engaged scholar, Professor Michener is co-leader of the Finger Lakes chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, an organization focused on bringing academic research to policymakers, civil associations, and the media. She engages extensively with state, local, and national policymakers and organizations, advising on issues related to race, poverty, and public policy. 

Prior to working at Cornell, Michener was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Scholar at the University of Michigan. She received her Master of Arts and Doctorate from the University of Chicago and her Bachelor of Arts from Princeton University.