Dawn Hunter, J.D., M.P.H., serves as Director, Health Equity. Dawn is an experienced state health department policymaker and legislative analyst whose work focuses on research, analysis, implementation, and capacity building related to the use of law and policy to improve health outcomes and advance racial equity. She is particularly interested in the development of racial equity action plans and implementation strategies at the state and local level and leads an ongoing assessment of declarations of racism as a public health crisis and related efforts to address health inequities. In the past year, she has been collaborating with partners in the Collaborative for Anti-Racism and Equity. Dawn also focuses on strategies to improve health outcomes through civic engagement and served as the lead author of the Health & Democracy Index. She also conducts training on equity in public health messaging through the Becoming Better Messengers initiative. Prior to joining the Network, Dawn served in a number of roles focused on public health, policy, and health equity, including serving as deputy state health official at the New Mexico Department of Health, where some of her core responsibilities included managing the Department’s legislative agenda and policy activities as well as strategic planning, performance management, and public health accreditation.
Dawn started her career in child protective services in Hillsborough County, Florida. She later transitioned into research and development as a microbiologist at the University of South Florida, Center for Biological Defense, with a focus on rapid detection methods for food and waterborne pathogens. Dawn is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. She received her A.B. in English Literature from Princeton University, her B.S. in Microbiology and her M.P.H. in Global Communicable Disease from the University of South Florida, and her J.D. from Stetson University College of Law.
Dawn was awarded the APHA Law Section Jennifer Robbins Award for the Practice of Public Health Law in 2021, and received a 2023 Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of South Florida, College of Public Health.