Leila Barraza, J.D., M.P.H., is a Senior Consultant for the Western Region Office of the Network for Public Health Law and an Associate Professor 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

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 R. 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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Equitable Law and Policy Solutions to Mitigate Health Risks from Climate Change and COVID-19

Law & Policy InsightsCOVID-19 and Health EquityEnvironment, Climate and HealthNeighborhood and Built Environment

September 23, 2020
by Betsy Lawton, Dawn Hunter and Leila Barraza

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists in the United States, climate change and weather-related health risks, such as hurricanes, wildfires, and extreme heat, will put even greater pressure on the nation’s health and healthcare resources. There are short-term actions that can be taken to protect the health of vulnerable people along with longer-term solutions that can create equitable and resilient communities that can better respond to future disasters.

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How the “Health at Every Size” Movement Can Help Inform the Public Health Conversation on Obesity

Law & Policy Insights

August 13, 2019
by Leila Barraza

The popular social justice movement Health at Every Size focuses on health improvement as the goal, irrespective to weight loss, and advocates for social acceptance of all body sizes, including morbid obesity. With obesity prevalence at an all-time high in the U.S., some public health officials are concerned that persons who view obesity as healthy are less likely to lose weight, increasing their risks for many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

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