RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM

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Newsletter - March 2010 - Volume 2 - Issue 1 - RWJF Center for Health Policy

In This Newsletter

RWJF Launches New Comprehensive Scholars Web Site—UNM Fellows Featured

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced today the launch of a new Web site—Scholars, Fellows & Leadership Programs—to provide a central location for information on the programs in the RWJF Human Capital Portfolio.

“This new Web site brings together the essential facts about the programs in the RWJF Human Capital Portfolio,” said David Krol, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., team director of the RWJF Human Capital Portfolio. “It will provide ‘one-stop shopping,’ both for current scholars, fellows and leaders, and for potential applicants who want to learn more about these programs and their immense contributions to the nation’s health and health care.”

The Scholars, Fellows & Leadership Programs Web site showcases not only RWJF’s outstanding Human Capital Portfolio programs, but also the people whose innovation and hard work are creating positive change in the fields of medical research, nursing, health policy and nonprofit leadership, among others.
The Human Capital Portfolio programs work to ensure that the nation has a diverse, well-trained workforce to meet the health care needs of all Americans.

Visit for more information.

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 Spring 2010 Lecture Series Is Off to a Great Start

The spring 2010 Lecture Series “Plural Perspectives on Health and Health Policy” began last month with a standing-room-only presentation and discussion facilitated by Stanford University’s Dr. William Darity, Ph.D., titled “The Economics of Colorism.” Below is a listing of the upcoming lectures in the series.

Scientific Advantages of Studying Racially "Admixed" Populations: Lessons from the Genetics of Asthma in Latino Americans Study

Esteban González Burchard, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor, Biopharmaceutical Sciences and School of Medicine, UCSF

Friday, March 12, 2010 2:00–4:00 pm
UNM Hibben Center Room 105


Self-Employment, Disability Status, and Race/Ethnicity

Marie Moya, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, UT-PA

Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:30–2:00 pm
UNM Student Union Building Lobo Room A & B

The Politics of Health Care Reform

Ellen-Marie Whelan, N.P., Ph.D.
Senior Health Policy Analyst, Associate Director of Health Policy–Center for American Progress

Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:30–2:00 pm
UNMHSC College of Pharmacy Auditorium


Click here for additional information.

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Upcoming Events

The Health Equity Assessment Tool
March 25, 2010 3:30 pm

National Advisory Board Meeting
April 22–23, 2010

for additional information on these
and other events.

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Center Participates in Recent Expositions at the New Mexico State Legislature—Revised Policy-Maker Brochure Launched

The Center joined representatives from across the University in Santa Fe at both the UNM Day and Native American Day at the State Legislature. These annual mini-expositions are designed to give New Mexico legislators and capital visitors an opportunity to learn more about the exiting resources available for these groups. To coincide with these events, the Center officially rolled out its newly revised policy-maker’s brochure. This new brochure was developed to provide policy-makers, community leaders and others with more detailed information on how the Center can be of assistance to ensure they make informed health policy decisions. Printed copies of the brochure are available by request. It is also available on the Web by clicking here.

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Update from the RWJF Center for Native American Health Policy at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

The RWJF Center for Native American Health Policy at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is continuing its work to increase the capacities of tribal communities and its leaders in health issues. In 2010 the Center will continue to offer training on the NM legislative process and health board roles and responsibilities. The legislative process training is scheduled for the spring and board training will be offered in the summer. The board training is also available to tribes upon request.

The Center will continue to promote the activities of the Health Extension Rural Office (HERO). Three full-time agents will begin working in Pueblo communities. The HERO program extends the resources of the University based on the health priorities of the local community.

This initiative of the RWJF Center for Health Policy is designed to increase the capacity of tribal communities to be proactive in encouraging healthy habits and to deliver quality health services by providing policy analysis, leadership training and community engagement while honoring the cultural traditions and practices valued by Native people. The Center for Native American Health Policy is collaboration between the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, the UNM Office of Community Health HERO Program and the RWJF Center for Health Policy.

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Update from the Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice

The Center’s Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice will conclude its colloquium series with the upcoming lecture on “Scientific Advantages of Studying Racially ‘Admixed’ Populations: Lessons from the Genetics of Asthma in Latino Americans Study.” Due to the success and similarity in mission, its colloquium series was merged with the Center’s main lecture series “Plural Perspectives on Health and Health Policy.”

Currently, the Institute is working to secure external funding for two conferences in 2011 designed to convene leading national scholars at UNM to discuss how to conceptualize and measure “race” in a way that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. The Russell Sage Foundation has invited their proposal for a two-day workshop in February 2011 entitled “Mapping ‘Race’ and Inequality: Theorizing and Measuring ‘Race’ Across the Disciplines.” In addition, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes for Health has invited their proposal for a workshop entitled “Mapping ‘Race’: Theorizing and Measuring ‘Race’ in Health Policy Research” to be held in March 2011.

The Institute for the Study of “Race” and Social Justice is an initiative within the RWJF Center for Health Policy to address the pressing social and economic issues that affect the health and well-being of all Americans. Its mission is to promote the establishment of empirical, theoretical and methodological clarity about “race” that draws on cutting-edge thinking from multiple disciplines and diverse empirical traditions.

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Wallerstein Receives National Award

The Community-Based Public Health (CBPH) Caucus of the American Public Health Association (APHA) recently co-presented its 2009 Tom Bruce Award to Senior Fellow Dr. Nina Wallerstein, Dr.P.H., Professor, M.P.H. Program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. The Tom Bruce Award was established in 2006 and celebrates the work and the legacy of Dr. Bruce to CBPH.

According to the official APHA news release, Wallerstein was nominated by Navajo Nation officials who noted she had been instrumental in giving the Navajo Nation as well as other communities of color opportunities to participate in national round tables promoting community-based health.

Wallerstein has “demonstrated exemplary leadership and significant contributions to the CBPH movement across Indian Country and other historically marginalized communities,” wrote Beverly Becent-Pigman, chair of the Navajo Nation Health Research Review Board in their nomination application. “Working with the CBPH Caucus and other groups, she has helped create a national community of practice to improve the outcomes of such work with marginalized communities.”

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Hawkins Receives APHA Award for Excellence

National Advisory Board Member, Daniel Hawkins Jr., was recently awarded the American Public Health Association Award for Excellence for his almost four decades of work to advance community health centers and improve health, especially among the medically underserved. Hawkins currently serves as the vice president for federal, state and public affairs of the National Association of Community Health Centers and was named one of America’s most influential health policy-makers by the Healthcare Information Center of Faulkner & Gray.
“His scholarly analyses of the health needs of the poor and uninsured, his organization of multiple data sources on the quality and impact of community health centers, and his enormously effective translation of that data into crucial policy recommendations to Congress and the public have had effects on improving public health far wider than in health centers alone,” said H. Jack Geiger, M.D., MSciHyg, professor emeritus of community medicine at the City University of New York Medical School. “He has been a ceaseless and innovative advocate for the improvement of Medicaid, Medicare and other programs that impact public health. His work over many decades has improved the health—and lives—of literally millions of our most vulnerable citizens.”

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Romero-Leggott Receives Hispano Round Table Award

Senior Fellow Valerie Romero-Leggott, M.D., vice president for diversity at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, was recently awarded the 16th Annual Hispano Round Table (HRT) “Walking the Talk” Award for her commitment to creating positive change in the community. Individuals are nominated by organizations or private citizens and are reviewed by screening committees of the League of United Latin American Citizens Civil Rights Commission of New Mexico.

The honor is also known as the Chavez y Chavez award, named after renowned Latino leaders, Cesar Chavez and U.S. Senator Dennis Chavez. Established in 1984, the HRT is comprised of 50 member organizations and collectively represents more than 50,000 individuals in New Mexico. The HRT was formed to provide a clearinghouse for Hispano organizations to exchange information and organize on matters of interest. For more information, visit

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Ridenour Coauthors Primer for Nurses on Advancing Health Reform Policy

Senior Fellow Nancy Ridenour, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., B.C., F.A.A.N., and dean of the UNM College of Nursing coauthored a primer for nurses on advancing health reform policy in a recent publication of the Journal of Professional Nursing. The article presents insights from her experiences as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow working in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office and on the House Committee on Ways and Means. Nursing has many opportunities at this juncture to engage in policy discussions and advance solutions for issues related to increasing quality and access while dampening the escalating cost of care. Strategies where nursing's voice can inform reform conversations include chronic disease management, prevention and health promotion, community-based care, nurse-managed care, interdisciplinary education, safety and quality, use of health information technology, and testing the comparative effectiveness of interventions and delivery systems.

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College of Nursing Receives Funding from the Hearst Foundation to Develop Candidates for the Health Policy Concentration

The UNM College of Nursing (CON) has received a $150,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation to create a scholars program for Native American and Hispanic students entering graduate programs.

UNM will identify three Hispanic and/or Native American students who are currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing (B.S.N.) program or have recently graduated with a B.S.N. Each student will receive financial support while earning a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree.

As part of the scholars program, the UNM CON plans to develop a pipeline for these students so once they complete their M.S.N. they enter the Ph.D. in Nursing program under the newly developed Health Policy concentration. This will help the college increase the overall number of nursing students knowledgeable in health policy and the number of Native American and Hispanic students in graduate programs.

“There is a great need for more nursing scholars in health policy, particularly those who represent populations where health disparities are the greatest,” said Dr. Nancy Ridenour, dean at the UNM CON. “Although Hispanic and Native American undergraduate nursing students at UNM reflect the ethnic population of New Mexico, they are underrepresented in graduate school at both the master’s and doctoral levels.”

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College of Nursing Awarded RWJF Grant to Study the Effectiveness of an Online Educational Program

The UNM College of Nursing has received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the effectiveness of an online educational program, The Neighborhood, a virtual community featuring the stories of fictional characters within households and community agencies. The grant is part of the RWJF program, Evaluating Innovations in Nursing Education, a national initiative that supports evaluations of interventions that expand teaching capacity or promote faculty recruitment and retention in schools of nursing. Project Director Jean Giddens, Ph.D., R.N,. created The Neighborhood to inspire nursing education reform. With this grant, she plans to evaluate the effectiveness of The Neighborhood on faculty recruitment and retention and student graduation rates.

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RWJF Partners to Launch New “County Health Ranking” Data Web Site

The RWJF and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute recently launched a new data Web site featuring 50 state reports designed to help public health and community leaders, policy-makers, consumers and others to see how healthy their county is, compare it with others within their state and find ways to improve the health of their community.

Each county is ranked within the state on how healthy people are and how long they live. They also are ranked on key factors that affect health such as smoking, obesity, binge drinking, access to primary care providers, rates of high school graduation, rates of violent crime, air pollution levels, liquor store density, unemployment rates and number of children living in poverty.

The online rankings include snapshots of U.S. counties with a color-coded map that compares each county’s overall health with other counties in each of the 50 states. The study is unique as it is the first time researchers have examined the multiple factors that affect health in each county in all 50 states.

Visit the County Health Rankings Web site at:

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UNM Program Awarded RWJF Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Initiative Grant

The UNM Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC) has been awarded a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve opportunities for physical activity and access to affordable healthy foods for children and families in Cuba, New Mexico. Their selection was based on a rigorous evaluation process that drew more than 500 proposals from across the country. Cuba, New Mexico, is one of 41 sites selected for the RWJF Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Initiative.

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REMINDER—Spring Semester Doctoral Fellowship Requirements

As Doctoral Fellows continue with their spring semester course work, research and/or other activities, we would like to remind everyone of the Spring/Summer fellowship requirements and expectations.
Click here for additional information.

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REMINDER—Academic Support

The Center is committed to providing its Doctoral Fellows with the academic support and resources necessary to support their academic endeavors and research.

Click here for additional information.

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 “Featured Fellows”

Jillian Medeiros, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Political Science

Dr. Jillian Medeiros earned her doctorate in politics and international relations at the University of Southern California, where she completed a dissertation on white racial attitudes toward undocumented immigrants and Latinos and how these racial attitudes impact public opinion toward health care reform policies. In addition to expanding her dissertation work, she is currently working on projects that examine the social and economic determinants of Latinos obtaining health insurance, Latino public opinion toward health care reform, and health patterns of the immigrant community in the United States. She also plans to conduct more qualitative research on the Native American and Latino populations in New Mexico.


P. Rafael Hernández-Arias, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sociology

Dr. P. Rafael Hernández-Arias received a combined Ph.D. degree in sociology and social policy from the Department of Sociology and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. His research interests include sociology of health, immigration and health and international health policy analysis. Currently, he is the principal investigator for the Bi-National Health Insurance Proposal: Perceptions among Mexicans in Chicago Communities and co-principal investigator for the Community Health Assets and Needs Assessment Project.



Center Fellows are encouraged to submit their research and/or biography updates to
our Communications Consultant, Victor Cornejo, to be featured in an upcoming edition.

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Comments and Feedback

Please send all comments, feedback and/or editorial suggestions to

for detailed information and resources on any of the Center’s
news and activities mentioned in this newsletter.

RWJF Center for Health Policy

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy at the University of New Mexico is the only health policy center dedicated to increasing the number of leaders from Latino and American Indian communities helping to shape the future of our nation’s health and health care. A collaboration of the University of New Mexico and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the RWJF Center for Health Policy focuses on inserting the perspectives of Latino, American Indian and other underrepresented groups into the most pressing health policy debates today.

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RWJF Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing with a Concentration in Health Policy

This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing with a Concentration In Health Policy Program prepares nurses to become distinguished leaders in health policy at the local, state and national levels through research and advocacy. It works in partnership with the Center to enhance the clinical expertise of nursing students with opportunities for research collaboration and other interdisciplinary activities with doctoral students from the social science disciplines.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

 To create the best health care services for all Americans, the country needs a diverse group of leaders in Washington and in academic circles who represent the interests, cultures and needs of this incredibly diverse nation. For more than 35 years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change to the health and health care issues facing our country. As a leading Hispanic-serving institution with a medical school, colleges of nursing and pharmacy, a public health program, and doctoral-level programs in economics, political science and sociology, the University of New Mexico is uniquely positioned to assist the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in its mission of improving the health and health care of all Americans. 


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