Skip to main content

First-ever Advocacy Action Lab provides Johns Hopkins faculty and staff with practical advocacy skills for public health policy change


The Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy hosted its first-ever Advocacy Action Lab at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center in Washington, DC on June 6, 2024. An energized group of faculty and staff from across Johns Hopkins came together to gain practical insights, knowledge, and skills to enhance influence with decision makers at all levels.

The one-day workshop aimed to demystify the “who, what, when, where, and how” of public health policy change. Throughout the day, participants worked through a series of exercises to craft an “advocacy action plan” to tackle their chosen public health issue. Their policy ‘asks’ centered around mental health, LGBTQ+ health, gender equity, environmental health, and many other areas of public health.

The Action Lab was strategically curated to guide participants in creating their action plans. Lerner Center director Shelley Hearne, DrPH, provided an overview of advocacy’s critical role in public health successes.

Man talking at a table next to two women

A Bloomberg School of Public Health faculty panel, featuring Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, Paul Locke, DrPH, Mariana Socal, MD, and Melinda Buntin, PhD focused on leveraging advocacy in public health work to help participants shape their policy objective.

Melisa Lindamood, MPS, assistant vice president of the Johns Hopkins Office of Federal Strategy moderated a panel of policy experts, who shared valuable insights on making an impact in the policymaking space. Panelists included Melanie Egorin, PhD, assistant secretary for legislation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Atul Grover, MD, PhD, executive director for the Association of American Medical Colleges Research and Action Institute; Janice Lepore, PsyD, American Psychological Association congressional fellow for the Senate Committee on Finance; and Sarah Levin, MPH, professional staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee Health Subcommittee.

Two women and one man at a table laughing

Bloomberg School faculty Adam Levine, PhD presented on making connections, relationships, and partnerships for advocacy to help participants develop their advocacy tactics and determine their allies. To further support participants in crafting their action plan, lobbying experts Kristen Reek, JD, director of Federal Strategy at Johns Hopkins, and Rayna Jordan, JD, director of DC Government Affairs at Johns Hopkins, shared essential tips for legally and ethically engaging in policy work.

After establishing their ‘next steps’ for tackling their policy issues, participants enjoyed a networking reception, featuring beautiful views of the Capitol and inspirational remarks from Brian Castrucci, DrPH, MA, president and chief executive officer of the de Beaumont Foundation.

Man addressing room of adults with a window view of the Capitol

“After today, I feel like I have some of the tools to be able to take my goals for advocacy to the next level. Just by listening to the expert panel and engaging with my colleagues here, I was able to think about what I can do right now”*, says a Johns Hopkins School of Nursing faculty member. Additional testimonials and other engaging content from the day are featured on the Lerner Center Instagram page, @jhadvocacy.