Meet the Team
Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., Principal Investigator
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.
Alicia D. Holloway, M.B.A., Communications & External Affairs Director
Ms. Holloway has worked in higher education for the past nine years. During her time at Meharry Medical College, she worked in an administrative role in the Center for Women’s Health Research. From 2009 to 2014, Ms. Holloway has provided support to the International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities also formally called the RCMI International Symposium on Health Disparities.
She continued her career at Morehouse School of Medicine where she served as the faculty development program coordinator. There she planned and developed programs, manage Digital Measures Activity Insights system, and fostered support for the chair and faculty evaluations. She was later named as the executive assistant to the senior vice president of Institutional Advancement & Marketing and Communications. In this role, she will take the department to newer heights and be a liaison between the Office of Institutional Advancement & Marketing Communication and other internal constituents.
Ms. Holloway received her Bachelor of Art in International Studies from the University of Memphis in 2008. She later received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. Currently, she is working on her Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University.
Now, as the Communications and External Affairs Director for HELEN, she manages the website content and Social Media, as well as maintains the marketing and communication strategies for the HELEN network. She also analyzes and fosters political collaborations to aid in the advancement of the HELEN network.
Brian D. Smedley, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator
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.
Krista Morrison, J.D., Senior Advisor
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
Neelum T. Aggarwal, M.D., Senior Advisor
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.
Nelson J. Dunlap, J.D., Senior Advisor - Legislative Affairs
Nelson J. Dunlap currently serves as the Public Policy Manager at Morehouse School of Medicine where he helps to lead the government relations and health policy initiatives of the institution. Along with this role at Morehouse School of Medicine, Mr. Dunlap also currently serves as the Senior Advisor for Legislative Affairs for the Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network ("HELEN"). In this position, Mr. Dunlap directs the grassroots efforts of the network as well as oversees any research or reports published by the network. HELEN is a national network designed to bolster leadership and the exchange of ideas and information among communities of color and other vulnerable populations relative to the advancement of health equity in laws, policies, and programs.
While Nelson originally hails from Austin, Texas, he is a current resident of Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Dunlap graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and received his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law.
Nelson Dunlap is responsible for researching and preparing reports, publications, and webinars for the HELEN team. You can reach Mr. Dunlap via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaneeta M. Johnson, MD, FACS, FICS, FASMBS, Senior Advisor
Dr. Shaneeta Johnson is an Associate Professor of Surgery, Director of Minimally Invasive, Robotic, and Bariatric Surgery, and Program Director, General Surgery Residency Program at Morehouse School of Medicine, Department of Surgery and Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. She has over 15 years’ experience as a surgeon, clinician, educator, and researcher. She is affiliated with several Atlanta metro hospitals and medical facilities including Morehouse Healthcare, Emory Midtown, and DeKalb Medical. Dr. Johnson received her Doctorate of Medicine degree from Loma Linda University School of Medicine (Loma Linda, CA), and a Bachelor of Arts from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) in Neuroscience. She completed her General Surgery residency at Howard University Hospital (Washington, DC) and Minimally Invasive and Bariatric Surgery Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, Ohio). Dr. Johnson also completed her Executive MBA at Brandeis in May 2020. Dr. Johnson is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Fellow of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons (ASMBS), and Fellow of the International College of Surgeons. She is board certified in General Surgery and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine.
Dr. Johnson’s fields of expertise include health equity, robotic minimally invasive surgery and bariatric surgery. She is a sought-after speaker whose expertise has afforded her invitations to speak both nationally and internationally including the Pennsylvania Senate, Georgia House of Representatives, the Congressional Black Caucus, and many international venues such as Japan, Trinidad, Guyana, and the Bahamas. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Johnson has worked to improve health equity and access through testimony and collaboration with legislators as well as work with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute to reduce disparities. In response to the devastation of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, Dr. Johnson traveled to the Bahamas to deliver medical aid and mobilized more than $1million of medical supplies, equipment and also mobile clinics through partnerships with local and national institutions such as Morehouse School of Medicine, the American College of Surgeons, Emory University, MedShare, the Bahamas Consulate Office, WSB-TV, Medical Bridges and Delta.
Duanne Pearson, Senior Advisor
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.
Mahia Valle, Senior Communications Specialist
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City. Mahia Valle earned her B.S.B.A. in Marketing from Franklin Pierce College and is completing her M.B.A. in Complex Health Systems with NSU Florida. With over 7 years of Healthcare experience in both the public and private sectors with NYC Health and Hospital Corporation and later on at Cleveland Clinic Florida. In the following years she redirected her interest in helping others through a position with NSU Florida as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions. More recently she found that her passion remains in the healthcare field and jumped on the opportunity to work in health care policy as the Senior Communications Specialist with Morehouse School of Medicine's Satcher Health Leadership Institute.