Fernández-Peña to lead premier organization for public health professionals

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Jose Ramon Fernandez-PenaDr. José Ramón Fernández-Peña, former associate chair and associate professor of Health Education at San Francisco State University (1999-2017) and current director of health professions advising at Northwestern University, was elected the next president of the American Public Health Association (APHA) by the organization’s Governing Council. He will assume the role of president at the close of APHA’s next annual meeting in San Francisco in November 2020. APHA is the world’s oldest and largest public health professional association.

Among his many accomplishments in the field, Fernández-Peña is founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative, which has provided support for more than 17,000 immigrant health professionals from 168 countries to enter the U.S. health workforce and decrease health disparities in underserved communities. He has received numerous awards for this work, including the the California Wellness Foundation’s Champion of Health Professions Diversity award and the White House’s Champion for Change award (2011).

Faculty members in SF State’s Department of Health Education are thrilled to see their former colleague receive such recognition. Marty Martinson, chair of the Department of Health Education, said, “Being named president-elect of APHA is a wonderful tribute to José Ramón. It says so much about the impacts of his work as a public health professional and advocate for health justice, and it honors who he is as a person of tremendous integrity, leadership, and humility."

Fernández-Peña is looking forward to next year’s APHA meeting in San Francisco where his SF State community will welcome him home.

“My years at SFSU’s Health Education Department shaped me into the person I am today. I am deeply grateful for the mentors, colleagues and students that taught me, inspired me, and supported me through those 18 years. As a former clinician, turned educator, turned administrator, turned public health advocate, I know these experiences will serve me well in my new role at APHA,” he said.