Meet the Team

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Daniel E. Dawes, J.D. is a consultant, healthcare attorney and Executive Director of Health Policy & External Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine. In addition to his executive role, Mr. Dawes is a lecturer of health law and policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine. His extensive background in health policy, especially policies impacting health equity and the elimination of health disparities has allowed him to be a widely sought after expert by local, state and federal policymakers as well as by leading academic institutions, associations, community-based organizations, and companies. He is highly respected for his capacity to achieve sound policy changes in a nonpartisan and collaborative manner. During the negotiations around health reform, he organized the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform, a working group of more than 300 national organizations and coalitions that worked to ensure that the health reform law included health equity provisions to reduce disparities in health status and health care. He is a frequent speaker and author of several publications on health reform and health equity. Mr. Dawes serves as the Principal Investigator, working closely with the NRC program director, staff, and consultants to ensure successful implementation of the project.

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Brian D. Smedley, Ph.D. is co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, an organization that seeks to foster partnerships to advance health equity.  From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Smedley was Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Smedley is a well-known thought leader in health equity whose publications include numerous journal articles, book chapters, and essays.  Dr. Smedley is also a frequent speaker at health equity and policy conferences across the country.  In his capacity as Executive Director of the National Collaborative, Dr. Smedley directs several large projects, including Place Matters, an effort to build the capacity of leaders around the country to address social, economic, and environmental determinants of health and health inequities, as well as other projects to assess the impact of the Affordable Care Act on health inequities.  Dr. Smedley serves as Co-Principal Investigator and supports the project’s Washington-based activities.

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Ms. Morrison is responsible for providing research and analysis on federal, regional, state and territory policies and laws. As an attorney and policy consultant to major organizations she has worked extensively in the area of health law and policy. Her areas of expertise include issues relative to health disparities, health equity, health information technology, and health reform. Ms. Morrison licensed to practice in both Georgia and Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Wesleyan College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law

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Neelum T. Aggarwal, MD, is a population health neurologist and clinical researcher in the field of longevity and aging. She is an Associate Professor and Faculty member in the Department of Neurological Sciences and the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Aggarwal has served in numerous leadership roles throughout her career.  She is the Chief Diversity Officer for the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA),  a Founding Member of the Women Against Alzheimer’s Disease Network of  US Against Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Chicago Chapter Chair of the Women in Bio Mentoring, Advisors and Peers Committee. Dr. Aggarwal is a recipient of the Academy of Neurology - Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Award, a Steering Committee member for the American Medical Association (AMA) - Commission to End Health Disparities, and serves on the Governing Council for the AMA - Women Physician Section.  As HELEN's Senior Advisor of Women's Health Equity, Research, Equity and Policy, Dr. Aggarwal works closely with the HELEN team and partners to draw together evidenced based data on health disparities and inequities due to sex and gender. She is responsible for raising awareness of specific issues facing women that impact their ability to attain high standards of health, and helping to analyze policies, strategies, and actions that can address them.

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Daniel is responsible for researching and preparing reports, publications, and webinars. Daniel possesses extensive experience with federal legislation and policymaking. He spent more than five years as a congressional staffer managing diverse issue portfolios, including transportation, housing, and healthcare. While on Capitol Hill, Daniel worked closely with numerous federal agencies, and sought to develop and advance health equity legislation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern University and is currently the Health Policy and Regulatory Analyst at Morehouse School of Medicine.

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Duanne Pearson is an experienced government relations professional with nearly 20 years of experience in state and federal affairs. Duanne joined Premier in September 2014 as the director of federal affairs and focuses primarily on core hospital issues, including Medicare and Medicaid payment and hospital quality improvement programs. Prior to joining Premier, Duanne worked as the associate director of government relations for more than eight years with the Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia. His background also includes experience in advancing policies related to supply chain improvements and health insurance, and maintaining a state affairs legislative tracking database for several companies at Covington & Burling. He is the proud recipient of the 2012 James L. Scott Advocacy Award and co-recipient of the 2011 Delaware Valley Health Care Advocacy Award. As HELEN's Senior Advisor on Delivery and payment system reforms, Duanne works closely with the HELEN team and its partners to identify gaps in proposed and existing payment and delivery system reforms impacting vulnerable populations. 

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Ms. Alton is responsible for establishing and overseeing the day-today aspects of the project, provide content expertise in health disparities, particularly in relation to chronic disease prevention and health promotion, public health systems, and partnership development within communities of color. Ms. Alton works closely with the Health Equity Collaborative, coordinate training and technical assistance activities for the program, and participate in the compilation and dissemination of program outcomes and findings: including reports, guidebooks, briefs, fact sheets, and peer-reviewed articles. Ms. Alton has several years of experience in strategic planning and nonprofit development within the public health industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master’s in Social Work with an emphasis in Nonprofit Public Management.