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James Marshall Public Policy Fellow 2018-19

Deborah Ojeda-Leitner, PhD, MA, was named as the 2018-2019 James Marshall Public Policy Fellow by the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).  Dr. Ojeda-Leitner currently is working with the Senate HELP Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security in the Office of Senator Bernard Sanders.  In this role, Dr. Ojeda-Leitner will be working with senior staff to address a range of pertinent health policy issues, including:  health equity; Medicare for All; opioids; dental and oral health; mental health and substance abuse; drug pricing reform; increased support for community health centers and health workforce development program; and other pivotal health policy issues that arise over the course of the next year.

Prior to their tenure in Senator Sanders’ office, Dr. Ojeda-Leitner completed their PhD in Community Psychology at Wichita State University (WSU).  Before graduate school, however, they proudly served as an AmeriCorps member in South Bronx and was an advocate for community health and health equity.  In addition, they was an evaluator at WSU Community Engagement Institute’s Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE).  Their primary focus at CARE was collaborating with the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services to evaluate home- and community-based services to ensure that they were in compliance with federal regulations.  

Dr. Ojeda-Leitner’s interests and past experiences include health, social justice, equality, social change, strategic planning, research, evaluation, prevention, community-based interventions, and advocacy.  They finished their dissertation on healthcare-related discrimination within Wichita’s gender and sexual minority community, with the aim to improve cultural readiness within healthcare settings.

In the future, they hope to follow their passion for and expand their expertise in healthcare, health minority equity, intersectionality, social justice, and public policy.