From Our Blog

Network Commons Speaker Bios November 20

Our speakers for the November 20th Network Commons, Larger Than Cities and Towns: Partnering for Health at a Regional Level.

Melissa Jones, MPA, is the Executive Director of Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII). She is passionate about creating the conditions that increase quality of life and makes life more fair for more people. Her work focuses on the intersection of social determinants of health, social inequity, and well-being.

Her experience includes work in municipal government and non-profits, in the Bay Area’s large and small cities. Melissa is an active community member in Oakland and also serves on the Association of Bay Area Government’s Regional Planning Committee, which advises on regional planning issues.

Before joining BARHII, Melissa served as Senior Program Officer at Boston Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), where she launched and ran Boston LISC’s Resilient Communities Resilient Families (RCRF) Initiative. The initiative works to ensure that residents of Boston’s Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan neighborhoods benefit from the rising tide of transit and other public investments. During her tenure, RCRF engaged several thousand residents and non-profits in neighborhood planning. The program has invested millions of dollars to fund affordable housing, leadership development, Family Financial Opportunity Center programs, and a local entrepreneurship pipeline program to ensure residents’ financial lives are improving. She was awarded the LISC’s President’s award in 2014 for her work on comprehensive community development.

Melissa has additional experience funding and implementing programs focused on community economic development, family financial stability, education, and civic empowerment. Specifically, she has served in youth empowerment organizations, as Program Specialist for the City of Alameda, and as Program Analyst for the City of Oakland’s Oakland Fund for Children and Youth. Early in her career, she served as Director of Professional Development for Partners in School Innovation where she trained staff to support school reform efforts in San Francisco Unified, San Jose Unified, and Oak Grove Unified school districts.

Kathryn Lawler, MPP, serves as the Executive Director for the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI). As an interdisciplinary coalition with almost 100 member organizations, ARCHI works to enhance the economic vitality of metropolitan Atlanta by improving the health and wellbeing of its residents.

Kathryn’s 20 year career has focused on cross-sector interventions to address complex social problems. Beginning as a case worker in downtown Atlanta, her work with a Congressional Commission on Health and Housing and her tenure in a variety of roles at the Atlanta Regional Commission, she has worked to bring together transportation, housing and healthcare systems to support vulnerable populations. Most recently she led a large team as Manager of the Aging and Health Resources Division and Director of the Area Agency on Aging for metro Atlanta, providing expertise in the challenges and opportunities of longevity, long term services and supports and health system reform.

Kathryn holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Jess Lynch is Program Director for the Alliance for Health Equity at the Illinois Public Health Institute, and has over 15 years of public health and community development experience in Chicago, California, and El Salvador. Jess’ work focuses on advancing health equity and social justice, and she has worked on a range of topics including food systems and SNAP policy, climate change adaptation, labor rights for domestic workers, and housing and economic development initiatives. Jess is currently the lead staff for the Alliance for Health Equity, a collaborative of over 30 hospitals partnering with local health departments and regional and community partners to address community health priorities in Chicago and Suburban Cook County. Jess holds a Master in City and Regional Planning and a Master in Public Health from UC Berkeley.