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Honorary Degree Recipient

Debra Joy Pérez, PhD, MPA, MSc, ScD, FASHP

Debra Joy Pérez, PhD, MPA, MSc, ScD, FASHP

Debra Joy Pérez, PhD, MPA, MSc, ScD (hon.), FASHP, is Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Learning at The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), a private charitable organization devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at-risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes.

As a leader in research, mentoring and funding, Dr. Pérez has developed strong and productive philanthropic partnerships for multi-disciplinary programming in public health and for addressing racial/ethnic disparities. She has been particularly successful at building scholarly diversity-focused networks such as the Latina Researcher Network and the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network.

Prior to joining AECF, Dr. Pérez was the Assistant Vice President of Research and Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), where she focused on advancing program evaluation and research to further Foundation priorities. She was instrumental in creating, building and bridging multiple diverse networks like Sisters of the Academy, as well as creating New Connections, a program that offers diverse perspectives that inform RWJF of strategies by involving new researchers and consultants from underrepresented communities. Dr. Pérez has conducted research on perceived discrimination, socio-cultural barriers to health, public health systems research and health care services research.

Due to her strong passion for strategic philanthropy and her determination to address the nation’s most pressing social needs, Dr. Pérez has established new areas of research in public health services and systems, presiding over millions of dollars in grants to non-profits. In 2010, she was awarded the Latino Trendsetter Award, followed by the 2011 YWCA Women of Industry Award and the 2015 Hispanics Inspiring Student Achievement Award.

Dr. Pérez is one of nine children and the first in her family to graduate from college -- earning a Bachelor’s in Communication from Douglass College; a Master’s in Social Science and Women’s Studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England; a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York; and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard University.