January 31, 2008

Robert Otto Valdez joins the University of New Mexico as executive director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy. He joins the university after leading his own research and analysis firm, Valdez and Associates, and serving as a senior health scientist with the RAND Health Sciences Program in Santa Monica, Calif. and Washington, D.C.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Valdez is ready to provide leadership for the center,” UNM Interim Provost Viola Florez said. “He is a leader in health policy at the national and international levels and we believe he will bring tremendous vision to UNM.”

UNM Executive Vice President for Health Sciences Paul Roth said, “Dr. Valdez is a proven leader who brings very impressive credentials to this position. We are fortunate that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized UNM as a seedbed for addressing the needs of our underserved populations. Valdez is the right person to lead the Health Policy Center as it begins searching for candidates who will be trained to help develop national policies aimed at addressing healthcare disparities.”

Valdez has conducted policy analyses and health services research at RAND and as a senior fellow at Emory University’s Institute for Advanced Policy Solutions. He previously served as founding dean and professor of Health Policy and Management at the MCP Hahnemann University School of Public Health. From 1985 -1999, Valdez was professor of health services at the UCLA School of Public Health and directed the health services doctoral studies program. He is nationally recognized as an expert on health services research methodology, the U.S. health care system, and health policy analysis. Valdez received his Ph.D. from the RAND Graduate School for Public Policy Studies where he specialized in studies of health care financing and quality of care for children.

“To create the best health care services for all Americans, the country needs a diverse group of leaders in Washington and in academic circles who represent the interests, cultures, and needs of this incredibly diverse nation,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We are delighted that Dr. Valdez will be leading the effort to attract and support a new generation of health policy leaders with those diverse perspectives.”

Valdez has been active in health policy and health services research at the international, national, state and local levels. In 1998, he served as special senior advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. From 1993 to 1996 he served in a dual capacity at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as deputy assistant secretary for Health, Public Health Service and director of Interagency Health Policy, Health Care Financing Administration. His responsibilities covered a wide range of issues including children and adolescent health initiatives, managed care developments and their effects on the public health care system; care for the uninsured; Indian health care initiatives, and state health care reforms. Prior to joining the Department of Health and Human Services, he served as a senior advisor to the White House on health care reform.

The RWJF Center for Health Policy is a physical, educational and cultural home for promising minority leaders and others, providing them with the training, research and opportunities they need to inform discussions and debates about health policy. As a university-wide interdisciplinary research organization dedicated to addressing the social, behavioral and economic factors affecting health and health care, the Center projects emphasize applying social science theories and methods to reduce or eliminate health and health care disparities. Through its students and programs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy will serve as a national resource and contribute to the development and implementation of national health policies by increasing the number and diversity of scholars who can engage in the debate as leaders.