The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center for Health Policy at The University of New Mexico is reaching the end of its fruitful contract with RWFJ and is in transition to its new initiative, the UNM Center for Social Policy.

The RWJF at UNM has seen great success in its mission to train the next generation of health policy leaders from diverse backgrounds, showcased by the placement of several of its fellows. Many of its alumni are now faculty at prestigious institutions across the country or applied policy leaders who are poised to help address racial and ethnic health inequities over the course of their careers.

Over the past decade, 26 RWJF-funded fellows acquired their Ph.D. across the social science disciplines at UNM, with three more completing Ph.D. programs this fall. All are from underrepresented backgrounds in their respective fields of study, showing how the RWJF Center has made a major contribution to the diversification of the health policy workforce.

Below is a short summary of the placements from the most recent job market season to illustrate the success RWJF had in helping graduates in find positions that allow them to make an impact on health equity in their chosen professions. As reflected in this year’s placements, the fellows are prepared to be able to pursue careers in academia or in applied research outside of the academy based on their career goals.

  • Patricia Rodriguez-Espinosa (Psychology) started a multi-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Stanford Prevention Research Center, housed in the School of Medicine of Stanford University.
  • Joaquin Rubalcaba (Economics) will join the faculty at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Policy as an Assistant Professor in the fall.
  • Melina Juarez (Political Science) will join the faculty at the University of Arkansas Department of Political Science as a multi-year Visiting Faculty member.
  • Kristina Piorkowski (Economics) accepted an Analytics Associate IV position with Presbyterian Healthcare Services.
  • Estela Vasquez-Guzman (Sociology) is finishing a Heath Policy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine, and will begin a new Fellowship with the Center for Budget Priorities at New Mexico Voices for Children this month.

Although the RWJF Center for Health Policy at UNM is officially closing, the mission to increase the number of leaders from underrepresented communities helping to advance health equity through the newly-developed UNM Center for Social Policy.

The center will integrate the work of several existing research institutes within the College of Arts and Sciences, including the Cradle to Career Policy Institute (formerly CEPR), the Native American Budget and Policy Institute (NAPBI) and the UNM Compassion Institute, which will feature a Ph.D. fellowship program to complement the existing Health Policy Fellowship program.

For more information, please contact or 505-277-0130.