Dawn Hunter is Director of the Network’s Southeastern Region Office. An experienced legislative analyst and state health department policymaker, Dawn leads work to examine legislation impacting health and racial equity, and to identify and implement strategies to build the capacity of public health agencies and organizations to effectively use law and policy to improve health outcomes.  Dawn also conducts training on equity in public health messaging through the Network’s Becoming Better Messengers initiative and leads an ongoing assessment of declarations of racism as a public health crisis and related efforts to address health inequities.  She is particularly interested in the development of racial equity action plans and implementation strategies at the state and local level. Dawn also focuses on strategies to improve health outcomes through civic engagement. Prior to joining the Network, Dawn served in a number of roles focused on public health, policy, and health equity, including serving as Deputy Cabinet Secretary 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.

Articles & Resources

Q&A: Tracking How Voting Impacts Health

FAQCivic Engagement and VotingMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

November 17, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

Voting impacts public health policies ranging from healthcare access to gun control and LGBTQ rights. In this Q&A, Network Southeastern Region Office Director Dawn Hunter discusses the newly launched Health & Democracy Index, which shows measures of health status (individual and population health and other population characteristics, including self-rated health, premature mortality, infant mortality, poverty rates, and community and family safety) relative to the Cost of Voting Index for each state. Dawn also outlines legal and policy strategies to improve voter participation and health. 

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Network for Public Health Law Announces New Director of Southeastern Region Office

Network News

June 30, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

The Network is pleased to announce that Dawn Hunter, J.D., M.P.H., will head the Network’s Southeastern Region Office as director, effective July 1, 2021. The position was previously held by Gene Matthews, who will remain on the Network’s leadership team as Principle Investigator. As an experienced legislative analyst and state health department policymaker, Dawn will lead work to examine legislation impacting health and racial equity, and implement strategies to build the capacity of public health agencies and organizations to effectively use law and policy to improve health outcomes of communities across the country. She will also spearhead outreach initiatives with new partner organizations, including the Healthy Democracy Healthy People initiative and the newly formed Racism as a Public Health Crisis Research Collaborative.

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Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: Improving Health Equity Through Better Data Collection

Law & Policy InsightsHealth Information and Data SharingMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

June 29, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

Pride Month is a celebration by and among individuals and communities of sometimes-hard-won acceptance and affirmation of sexual orientation and gender identity, by and among individuals and communities. This month, Network attorneys highlight recent law and policy developments related to health equity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

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National Minority Health Month: Raising Awareness and Encouraging Action to Address Health Disparities

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

April 21, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie McLachlan, Dawn Hunter and Mathew R. Swinburne

Several universities across the U.S. have announced plans to require students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before heading back to campus for the fall semester. Brown, Cornell, Duke, Northeastern, and Rutgers are among them. Some institutions of higher learning, like Virginia Tech, have determined that they cannot require vaccinations because of the vaccine’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) status, but this stance rests on shaky legal grounds.

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Women’s History Month: Network Attorneys Discuss Law and Policy Solutions to Promote Women’s Health & Wellbeing

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMedicaidMental Health and Well-Being

March 24, 2021
by April Shaw, Carrie Waggoner, Colleen Healy Boufides, Dawn Hunter, Jill Krueger and Leila Barraza

In honor of Women's History Month, women in the Network’s Health Equity Working Group have highlighted legal or policy issues affecting women’s health that they see as critically important. The topics addressed cover: economic stability and well-being, pregnancy discrimination, period poverty, and maternal depression. The law and policy solutions discussed here have the potential to improve life for women and girls for generations to come.

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Moving Past Disbelief in Systemic Racism to Understand What it Means For Health Equity

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

March 23, 2021
by Dawn Hunter

Since the Biden Administration released its plan to advance racial equity in the United States, there has been significant pushback against the idea that systemic racism even exists. This questioning is not new, but it has taken on a renewed fervor as state and local governments, professional associations, hospitals and health systems, and corporations have made public commitments to addressing systemic racism and treating racism as a public health crisis.

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