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

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Connecting Traditions to Wellness: Key Policy Takeaways from the 2019 Tribal Public Health Summit

Law & Policy InsightsOpioid Misuse and Overdose PreventionEnvironment, Climate and HealthTribal HealthOral HealthOral Health Project

July 11, 2019
by Leila Barraza

Tribes across the country are restoring ancient traditions to improve overall wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The recent National Tribal Public Health Summit highlighted these stories and identified the need for law and policy solutions to address a number of critical issues including opioid harm prevention and treatment, access to oral health care, and climate change.

Read more

National School Lunch Program – More Flexibility; Less Nutrition

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in School

February 26, 2019
by Leila Barraza

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) was last modified in 2012 by the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, which established nutrition standards for school meals consistent with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The USDA has announced that it will soon implement less stringent standards for school lunch nutrition regarding the requirements for whole grains, sodium, and milk.

Read more

Legal Issues in Policies Advanced to Hold Anti-vaccine Physicians Accountable

Law & Policy InsightsMaternal and Child Health

August 30, 2017
by James G. Hodge, Jr. and Leila Barraza

Despite overwhelming research in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccination schedule, some physicians continue to advise patients against following the schedule, and some voice their criticism of vaccinations publicly. Such criticism can contribute to lower vaccination rates, which in turn increases the risk for the spread of vaccine preventable diseases. But policy options to address this issue are problematic.

Read more

The Latest in Vaccine Policies: Selected Issues in School Vaccinations, Healthcare Worker Vaccinations, and Pharmacist Vaccination Authority Laws

Law & Policy InsightsHealth in SchoolMaternal and Child Health

July 14, 2017
by Leila Barraza

Vaccine policies play a vital role in protecting public health and are particularly relevant given the recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. In this Q&A, the co-authors of the article, “The Latest in Vaccine Policies: Selected Issues in School Vaccinations, Healthcare Worker Vaccinations, and Pharmacist Vaccination and Authority Laws” discuss this critical public health issue.

Read more