New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) is the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The NJHI program office is located on the Camden campus of Rutgers University. This program office is funded through a grant to the Rutgers Institute of Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research.
New Jersey Health Initiatives supports innovations and drives conversations to build healthier communities through grantmaking across the State of New Jersey. To meet the many health needs of our state’s diverse populations, regions and communities, the NJHI program encourages collaboration across sectors in our state’s communities to foster deep relationships committed to long-term change affording everyone the opportunity to live the healthiest life possible.
NJHI’s mission mirrors that of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — to improve the health and health care of all Americans. NJHI does this by striving to build a Culture of Health right here in New Jersey, the Foundation’s home state, that will enable all to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come.
About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to improve the health and health care of all Americans. The goal is clear: To help our society transform itself for the better. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted solely to the public’s health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a unique capability and responsibility to confront the most pressing health and health care problems threatening our society. The Foundation’s efforts focus on improving both the health of everyone in America, and their health care–how it’s delivered, how it’s paid for, and how well it does for patients and their families. As the Foundation invests in improving systems through which people receive care and in fostering environments that promote health and prevent disease and injury, they expect to achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change.
Bob Atkins, PhD, RN, FAAN is director of NJHI and an Associate Professor at Rutgers University with a joint appointment in Nursing and Childhood Studies. Dr. Atkins has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and American Civilizations from Brown University and Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania.
Fresh out of nursing school, Bob moved to the city of Camden where he worked as a school nurse at East Camden Middle School and co-founded the Camden STARR Program, a non-profit youth development program dedicated to improving the life chances of youth living in Camden. Bob’s work in Camden motivated him to complete a PhD in the Department of Public Health at Temple University to better understand the factors that influence the health and well-being of children living in vulnerable communities.
Bob is a life long New Jersey resident and is committed to building healthier communities across the state through effective collaborations and partnerships, meaningful conversations across sectors, and evidence-based innovations. For example, Bob leads several NJHI initiatives that engage more nurses (and school nurses) in building a Culture of Health in NJ.
Milton Ellis started in 2001 as the Manager of Grant Operations for NJHI, with responsibility for overall management of NJHI grantmaking operations and grants administration, including fiscal oversight of grantees. Milton earned a BA in Economics with a minor in Finance from Rutgers University.
Most recently, Milton has taken the lead managing several cohorts of NJHI grantees, including the NJHI Safe Dates initiative and the Transitions in Care initiative. Prior to his position at NJHI, Milton spent 13 years with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, first as a Financial Assistant and shortly thereafter being promoted to Financial Analyst.
While in college, Milton worked with the Burlington County Meals on Wheels program, delivering hot meals to isolated senior citizens. Milton enjoys working and mentoring kids and has spent more than 10 years coaching youth football, basketball, baseball and soccer.
Diane Hagerman joined New Jersey Health Initiatives 14 years ago as the Communications Officer. In her current role as Deputy Director of Programs, Diane oversees the program office’s communications functions while also working directly with grantees to ensure they are able to realize the full potential of their projects. Diane currently leads the NJHI: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action cohorts of grantees.
Diane’s career has spanned the fields of technology, casinos and healthcare — diverse industries where she used her communications skills to engage audiences and influence change. Born in Newark and raised in Union County, Diane is a true “Jersey girl!” Her career focus is on improving the supports and systems in our state to ensure that our residents, young and old, have the resources and opportunities to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Now raising her own “Jersey-girl,” ensuring New Jersey has a healthy, vibrant future is of utmost importance to Diane.
Diane holds a Bachelor of Business Science degree in Marketing from Webber College in Babson Park, FL, and a Master of Arts Degree in Mass Communication from the University of Florida.
Jemmell’z Washington is the newest member of the NJHI team. Her role as Communications Specialist includes driving the strategy and management of the NJHI.org website and the program’s social media presence, while lending advisory support to NJHI grantees.
Her editorial background with The Roanoke Times and The Philadelphia Tribune has evolved into a diverse communications portfolio that includes commissions from Temple University and the PHLCVB. Jemmell’z also served as a resident writing coach for New Jersey high school students in the Hugh N. Boyd Journalism Diversity Workshop at Monmouth University. A proven global citizen, she has traveled to Guatemala, Honduras, and Zambia with Habitat for Humanity International and Students Helping Honduras. Those experiences, plus past volunteer work with Spells Writing Lab and the SHARE Food Program, inform Jemmell’z’s familiarity with the socioeconomic factors that dedicated neighbors across New Jersey are addressing in order to build healthier communities for all.
Jemmell’z earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Communications from Albright College, and a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, with additional M.A. coursework in Urban Studies.
Juanita Curry’s 20-year career encompasses healthcare, higher education, and nonprofits–some of the same sectors represented in NJHI’s grantee coalitions. As Program Coordinator, she supports the NJHI team’s operational and fiscal reporting needs.
Her understanding of the role and impact of clinical care stems from experience as a billing administrator with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she managed operations for four of the physicians within the Pathology practice. Juanita is also a former Certified Nursing Assistant. She sets a healthy example for her three daughters by participating in obstacle courses and mud runs, such as the Muck Fest for MS. Juanita and her Gulf War veteran spouse can often be spotted on their motorcycle as part of volunteer escorts for veterans and active duty personnel returning home.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Peirce College and is currently enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies program at Rutgers University.
With 17+ years of experience in the IT industry, after turning a hobby into a career, Matthew Kozak brings a unique perspective to his work. His formal education includes a dual Bachelor of Arts in English & American Literature and Philisophy, a Juris Doctor, as well as a Masters in Business Administration.
The last decade of Matthew’s professional career has been spent at Rutgers University’s Office of Informational Technology, serving groups as varied as his own background. One of those groups includes the New Jersey Health Initiatives office located on the burgeoning Rutgers campus in the reinvigorated city of Camden, NJ. As a vital part of this group, Matthew marshals the resources of the Camden Computing Services department to support a host of varied technologies, running the gamut from database and server maintenance to cloud services and desktop support, with a growing mobile and paperless emphasis. His service also extends to the assistance of grantees on topics of interest and in the furtherance of the success of their grant efforts. With a customer-oriented focus, Matthew is able to provide the type of top-notch service to which New Jersey Health Initiatives and its stakeholders have become accustomed.
Calvin Bland retired as Chief of Staff and Special Advisor to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s President in December 2008. Mr. Bland was the director of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) until 2013. Currently, he is a Visiting Research Professor providing mentoring and advice to the NJHI team.
Bland served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children from 1980 to 1999 (Philadelphia, PA). He is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of Directors of MedicAlert Foundation International and has been a director since August 2010.
He has chaired the boards of trustees of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions and the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (its public policy affiliate), and the advisory board of the Foundation’s NJHI program. He was a member of the boards of Health Partners of Philadelphia, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Association of American Medical Colleges’ Council of Teaching Hospitals and several other boards of nonprofit agencies and institutions. He has served on numerous medical and health-related committees in New Jersey and Philadelphia. A highly regarded health executive, Bland has received a number of distinguished honors throughout his career including “Health Care Administrator of the Year” from the National Association of Health Services Executives (Philadelphia). His most recent honor was the establishment of the “Calvin Bland Endowed Chair in Hematology and Sickle Cell Disease” at Drexel University’s College of Medicine. He is a former diplomat of the American College of Health Care Executives.
Bland received an M.S. in Administrative Medicine (Hospital Administration) from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University and a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Beginning as an intern, Bryan arrived at NJHI with a nearly full alphabet of coding skills, including HTML and CSS. His technical training began within Hopeworks N’ Camden’s web design and development program. Expanding his skill set through self-study, Bryan is also adept in Adobe and Salesforce. As Special Projects Coordinator, he provides technical support for the applications used to document NJHI’s work. He is especially proud of designing a custom report module that helped the team identify and reconnect with former NJHI grantees dating back to 1992 – to before he was even born.
Bryan remains active with Hopeworks N’ Camden, representing the organization at networking events. He also served as a Youth Trainer for the Hope Through School program.
He is currently a sophomore at Camden County College, and his personal interests in film editing and digital drawing hint at a possible Communications major.
Antonia (Toni) Lewis, MPH, is a Community Coach at County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. She is the only County Health Rankings Community Coach dedicated to a specific state. Toni coaches NJHI’s funded coalitions participating in the Building a Culture of Health in NJ – Communities Moving to Action initiative. Toni’s role in building healthier communities across New Jersey is made possible by a grant through NJHI to the National Network of Public Health Institutes. Full Bio
Christine Grant advises companies, agencies and healthcare systems concerning science, technology and healthcare policy, regulations, finance and reimbursement. Chris is a former New Jersey Cabinet Member and Commissioner of Health and Senior Services and is a nationally recognized expert on healthcare and pharmaceutical financing, and public health crises. She has had careers in Government, Business, Law, and Philanthropy, with degrees in Business, Law, and Science. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania and a JD from Rutgers University in Newark.
Brian D. Agnew is the Senior Vice President for Development and Corporate Chief Development Officer for the Robert Wood Johnson Health System. In this capacity, Brian is responsible for strategic and operational oversight for three Foundations across New Jersey raising over $15 million annually to enrich the experience and quality of patient care for one of the nation’s leading academic health systems. In his spare time, Brian is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., plays competitive volleyball, and is a volunteer firefighter in Piscataway, NJ, where he has received Meritorious Service Awards for rescue operations conducted during both Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Dr. Agnew holds a PhD in Organizational Leadership from the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University, a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Journalism from Utica College and a Master’s in Business Administration in Organization and Management from Syracuse University.
Minnie Campbell is a licensed RN, whose specialty is Community/Public Health Nursing and she is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the College of Nursing at Seton Hall University and an active professional regarding issues of nursing and healthcare in NJ. Dr. Campbell is retired as professor and the first Executive Director of the School of Nursing at Kean University. She is the author of numerous publications, has earned awards in nursing and public health, and is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group and the Health Research & Education Trust for the NJ Hospital Association. Dr. Campbell has served the state in many capacities including service as a member of the NJ Public Health Council and the Black Infant Mortality Reduction Advisory Council. She received a Bachelor of Science from Hunter College CUNY, Master of Education (community/public health) from Columbia University, and Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Robert L. Johnson is the Sharon and Joseph L. Muscarelle Endowed Dean of the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School as well as a Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. His clinical expertise and research focuses on adolescent physical and mental health, adolescent HIV, adolescent violence, adolescent sexuality and family strengthening. He chairs the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and Related Blood Borne Pathogens and the Newark Ryan White Planning Council. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences of the National Research Council’s National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Johnson received his BA from Alfred University in 1968 and his MD from New Jersey Medical School in 1972.
Mark Valli is the Chief Executive Officer and Lead Advocate for the Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP). CCSP serves more than 900 students and was founded as a community school to provide students and families with programs and services, including health-related services, not provided by traditional schools. Prior to his service with CCSP, Mr. Valli was the founding President and CEO of New Jersey After 3, Inc. New Jersey After 3 (NJA3) was the nation’s first statewide public/private partnership created to expand and improve evidence-based after school opportunities and served more than 75,000 students in over 120 schools across the state. Mr. Valli has served as Board Chair of the New Jersey Center for Nonprofit Corporations and Vice Chair of Leadership New Jersey Graduate Organization. In 2007, Mr. Valli was recognized by NJ Biz Magazine as one of New Jersey’s ‘Top Forty Under Forty.’ Mark holds a Masters in Public Administration from Rutgers University and graduated Phi Alpha Alpha. Mark graduated from Swarthmore College with honors in history and political science.
Jeffrey Vega serves as the President & CEO of the Princeton Area Community Foundation, its second executive in the Community Foundation’s 23-year history.For nearly 22 years prior, Mr. Vega was with New Brunswick Tomorrow, the nonprofit organization established by Johnson & Johnson nearly 40 years ago to revitalize the City of New Brunswick. Mr. Vega began his career at NBT as a Director of Community Services, and subsequently promoted to Vice President and then to President for the past 14 years. Under his leadership, Mr. Vega increased the organization’s programmatic impact in the areas of health, youth and neighborhood revitalization. He established partnerships with the corporate, foundation and nonprofits sectors, where the programmatic investments grew from $250,000 to over $2.5 million annually. He has been recognized for his work by faith based, community based and social advocacy groups. He presently serves on the Boards of the Center for Nonprofits and LeadNJ. Mr. Vega was an Eagleton Fellow at Rutgers University, earning his Master’s Degree in Political Science and Public Policy and has an undergraduate degree from Cook College, Rutgers University in three majors — Urban Studies, Human Ecology and International Environmental Studies.