Melissa Stafford Jones photo, shoulders and head, smiling at camera

Melissa Stafford Jones, MPH

President and CEO, Public Health Institute

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Melissa Stafford Jones is the president and CEO of the Public Health Institute.

Melissa’s career in health policy is grounded in deep dedication to the vision of improving health, well-being and opportunity for all Californians to thrive and fully reach their potential, particularly those who are the most underserved and face the most structural barriers to opportunity. In her previous role as Director of the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative, Melissa worked with CalHHS departments, sister state agencies and with partners and stakeholders throughout the state to reimagine California’s children and youth behavioral health system into an innovative, up-stream focused, ecosystem where all children and youth are routinely screened, supported, and served for emerging and existing behavioral health (mental health and substance use) needs.

Melissa was executive director of the First 5 Association of California leading the development and implementation of the organization’s strategies to advance a whole child, whole family, equity-centered early childhood policy and systems change agenda. She served as regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IX from 2014-2017 under the Obama administration and worked in partnership with local and state organizations, key stakeholders and elected officials in communities throughout the region to implement the Affordable Care Act, increase access to health care and social services, and improve the lives and health of diverse communities. Melissa previously was president & CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems leading the organization’s strategy to advance public policies that support the essential role of the safety net and improve health status and access to care for low-income and uninsured individuals and communities. In addition to her experience in public and health policy, she also worked in philanthropy, serving as executive director of the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation.

Melissa holds a Masters degree in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Saint Mary’s College of California.

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