2022 Speaker Profile

April Joy Damian headshot

April Joy Damian, PhD, MSc, CHPM, PMP, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins University and VP and Director, Weitzman Institute

Dr. April Joy Damian is an epidemiologist, health services researcher, and classically trained public health professional with expertise in health equity, social determinants of health, psychiatric epidemiology, and mixed methods. She currently serves as the Vice President and Director of the Weitzman Institute, a research, education, and policy center dedicated to quality improvement and primary care transformation, with a particular focus on vulnerable populations. Dr. Damian is also the immediate Past Chair of the AcademyHealth Public Health Systems Research IG Advisory Board, and concurrently holds faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, UConn School of Medicine, and Wesleyan University. Dr. Damian previously served as the Director of Quality Innovation at the National Quality Forum (NQF). In this role, Dr. Damian spearheaded the expansion of NQF’s portfolio on social determinants of health quality measures, and co-led the NQF Measure Incubator®, an innovative effort that facilitates efficient measure development and testing through collaboration and partnership, and addresses important aspects of care for which quality measures are underdeveloped or non-existent.

Dr. Damian completed her PhD in the Department of Mental Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Masters in Medical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelors of Arts in Ethnic Studies, Highest Honors. She has worked with several reputable governing bodies, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veteran Health Administration in Washington, DC, International Organization for Migration in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as local health departments, on policy and programs relating to improving healthcare access and quality for medically underserved communities. She has received numerous recognitions in honor of her role as a social change agent, including the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Community Well-Being Warrior Award, and an honorarium from the University of Delaware.


What Went Wrong: COVID-19, Lack of Preparedness, Vaccine Aversion and Health Literacy’s Role

When COVID-19 was identified, it struck fast and then wide. Health Literacy’s role became apparent as an important medium for the prevention of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Despite the pandemic, for some health systems and organizations, Health Literacy became a priority and its role boosted rather than a back burner issue. We will learn which organizations rose to the challenge and championed Health Literacy as part of the solution to the multifaceted problem of COVID-19.

  • Understand health literacy as an underestimated public health challenge in the U.S. and globally

  • Examine health literacy through an equity/health justice lens by looking at the association of health literacy with drivers of health and social disparities

  • Learn about best practices for combating misinformation and promoting health literacy in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond