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José Ramón Fernández-Peña

HPA Director

HPA Director

José Ramón Fernández-Peña (he/him/his), MD, MPA – Is the director of Health Professions Advising at Northwestern University where he leads the university's efforts to support students interested in pursuing careers in the health sector.  Previously, Dr. Fernández-Peña was an Associate Professor (now Emeritus) and the Associate Chair in the Department of Health Education at San Francisco State University where his work focused on health workforce diversity and cross-cultural communication in health. 

Prior to this, he worked at Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco as director of Health Education, where he managed the health education programs in the HIV, Adult Medicine, Women’s, and Teen clinics. Before arriving in California, he was an associate director for quality management at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City.

He is also the founder and executive director of the Welcome Back Initiative (WBI), a program to assist immigrant health professionals already living in the U.S. through the necessary steps to enter the U.S. health workforce. The WBI currently includes centers in California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. In 2010, the program was recognized by the Maytree Foundation as one of the world’s 15 most successful programs for immigrant integration. In 2011, it received the E Pluribus Unum prize from the Migration Policy Institute. The program has served more than 16,000 people from 168 countries and has assisted thousands in joining the US health workforce.

He is a founding member of the steering committee of IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations working to promote and implement best practices in the integration of immigrant professionals. He has advised the White House Domestic Policy Council on the economic integration of foreign-trained professionals and has served as an expert panelist at national and international fora. He received the “Champion of Health Professions Diversity” award from The California Wellness Foundation in 2011. Also, in 2011, he was recognized by the White House as a “Champion of Change” for his work on immigrant integration.

He’s the current President of the American Public Health Association (APHA) where he has served in different roles over the years. In 2012 he received the Henry J. Montes President’s Award from APHA’s Latino Caucus. In 2020 he received the Friend of the Student Assembly Award and the Distinguished Lifetime Membership Award from the LGBTQ Caucus.

Dr. Fernández-Peña earned his medical degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his masters’ degree in public administration from New York University.