Leila Barraza, J.D., M.P.H., is a senior consultant for the Network’s Western Region Office and an Associate Professor in Community, Environment & Policy at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona. Her research interests include studying the impact of laws and regulations on population health, both nationally and globally. Previously, Professor Barraza served as Deputy Director of the Network for Public Health Law – Western Region Office and a Fellow and Adjunct Professor in the Public Health Law and Policy Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University. She has been published in several scholarly journals, including the JAMA, American Journal of Public Health, Public Health Reports, Preventing Chronic Disease, Cancer, Duke Forum for Law & Social ChangeJurimetrics JournalAnnals of Health Law, and Journal for Law, Medicine, and Ethics. Professor Barraza instructs a public health law course for public health and law students, and she has also provided numerous presentations at national and local conferences on a variety of critical public health law issues. She received her J.D., with a Certificate in Law, Science, and Technology, from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and her M.P.H. from the Zuckerman College of Public Health. She also received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California. Professor Barraza worked for the Center for Rural Health (formerly Rural Health Office) at the Zuckerman College of Public Health, providing assistance to rural and tribal hospitals and clinics, prior to attending law school.  Following law school, Professor Barraza served as a Law Clerk for the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One.

Articles & Resources

Recent Gun Violence Prevention Steps at the State and Federal Level

Law & Policy InsightsInjury Prevention and Safety

May 3, 2023
by Leila Barraza

Wayne County Michigan, which encompasses the City of Detroit, has a large population of residents of color and also faces some of the state’s most significant challenges. Recently, the county has taken significant measures to address acknowledged disparities in health outcomes, creating Regional Health Equity Advisory Councils, a Black Leadership Council, and committing $300 million to support more than 100 programs to further positive, systemic change.

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Exemptions to School Entry Vaccines and Corresponding Vaccine Coverage

Fact SheetLegislation and Legal ChallengesMechanisms for Advancing Public HealthMechanisms for Advancing Health Equity

August 29, 2022
by Brianne Schell and Leila Barraza

The first state law requiring vaccines for children entering school was passed in 1855 in Massachusetts as a response to a deadly outbreak of smallpox. By 1963, twenty states had joined Massachusetts in requiring vaccines for school entry. Today, all 50 states and the District of Columbia require vaccines for school entry, including those for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), polio, and varicella (chickenpox). For a single birth-year cohort (2009) of children, school entry vaccines were estimated to prevent 20 million cases of disease and 42,000 deaths.

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Federal Vaccine Mandates: Assessing their Legalities

WebinarsCOVID-19Emergency Legal Preparedness and Response

February 24, 2022
by Emely Sanchez, Erica White, Leila Barraza and Peter D. Jacobson

Following the development and authorization of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, the Biden administration enacted a series of vaccine mandates in 2021. The most significant of these mandates applied to (1) federal workers and contractors, (2) large employers, and (3) health care workers.

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Back-to-School Legal Trends and Challenges Relating to COVID-19

Fact SheetCOVID-19EducationEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseHealth in School

September 8, 2021
by Colleen Healy Boufides, Jennifer Piatt and Leila Barraza

This fact sheet offers a broad-level overview of issues associated with the return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also serves as a starting point and initial resource for individuals seeking information on what actions can be taken to protect K–12 students, as well as school faculty and staff, from COVID-19 in a school setting.v

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Acknowledging the Profound Health Impact of Vaccines and the Critical Need to Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

Law & Policy InsightsEmergency Legal Preparedness and ResponseMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

August 25, 2021
by Jennifer Piatt and Leila Barraza

August is recognized as Immunization Awareness Month to acknowledge and create awareness of the significant life-saving impact vaccinations have had on the public’s health.  However, despite the fact that eradication of certain vaccine-preventable diseases and development of vaccines to prevent cancer are revolutionary achievements, current challenges continue to demonstrate that the importance of vaccination awareness cannot be understated.

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Efforts at Some Universities to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations Face State Legislative and Executive Challenges

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19EducationHealth in School

April 21, 2021
by Leila Barraza

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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Judicial Trends in Public Health 2020: Year in Review

WebinarsJudicial Trends in Public Health

January 19, 2021
by Brooke Torton, James G. Hodge, Jr., Jennifer Piatt, Kathleen Hoke, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, Leila Barraza, Mathew Swinburne and Sarah Wetter

Join Network attorneys as they highlight their top choices for pivotal, influential judicial decisions over the past year on topics including emergency legal preparedness, religious freedoms, reproductive rights, food insecurity, health justice, and the future of the ACA.

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Election 2020: Public Health Legal Reforms and Projections

WebinarsCivic Engagement and VotingCOVID-19COVID-19 and Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

November 16, 2020
by James G. Hodge, Jr., Jennifer Piatt, Leila Barraza and Sarah Somers

Join the Network for an engaging real-time assessment and discussion of potential and projected legal and policy changes ahead on these and other core public health topics. Share your potential questions in advance during registration or during the live session.

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Safe Voting During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Health Orders and Legal Challenges in Two Jurisdictions

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19Emergency Legal Preparedness and Response

October 31, 2020
by Leila Barraza

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the challenge for states to provide safe conditions for individuals to vote in the upcoming Presidential election. In two southwestern states, public health executive orders (New Mexico) and legal challenges (Arizona) have been seen ahead of the upcoming election related to voting conditions and voter registrations.

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