Debra Joy Pérez, Ph.D., M.A., M.P.A.

Debra Pérez Joy is a Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Among other priorities, she is responsible for the foundation’s research and evaluation work on its public health team and leads programs that increase diverse perspectives in grant making. For example, in New Connections: Increasing Diversity of RWJF Programming, Pérez works with historically under-represented investigators and identifies opportunities to connect this new talent to the foundation’s work in health and healthcare research. She chairs the diversity committee, working within RWJF and with other foundations to enhance the quality and impact of philanthropy. Also, she manages the National Urban Fellows program, which supports under-represented mid-career professionals in a 9-month mentorship at RWJF. Since joining RWJF in October 2004, Perez has also been responsible for development of programs in racial/ethnic disparities, Latino and minority health, health care and public health, including fellows and scholars programs in evaluation and research. Perez completed an interfaculty doctoral program at Harvard University in 2005, receiving her doctorate in health policy. Pérez graduated from Douglass College with a bachelor’s degree in communication. She received a master’s in social science and women’s studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, in 1993. In 1999, Perez Joy was awarded a five-year predoctoral fellowship in health policy and research from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Research Interests & Projects

Much of Perez Joy’s work in public health focuses on developing and building the field of systems research to support evidence of how organization, structure, governance and financing influence the performance of the public health system. As program officer for the RWJF disparities team, Perez Joy developed major initiatives to identify interventions that reduce racial/ethnic disparities in healthcare, in a program called Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, and to establish a learning network of providers implementing strategies to serve patients with limited English proficiency, in a program called Speaking Together: National Language Services Network While at Harvard, Perez Joy chaired the first and second university-wide symposia on racial and ethnic disparities in health/health care. In 1997, Pérez received a National Urban and Rural Fellows award leading to her master’s in public administration from Baruch College, City University of New York where she graduated with honors. Perez Joy’s current research focuses on public health services and systems, racial/ethnic disparities in health and healthcare quality. She has a particular interest in discrimination and how socio-cultural factors such as acculturation impact immigrant and non-immigrant health and healthcare experiences. Perez is the 2009 recipient of the Women of Excellence Award from the New Jersey Woman and AIDS Network as well as the 2009 Distinguished Alumnae Award from Douglass College.

Contact Information:


Perez, Debra, Sribney, William M., & Rodríguez, Michael A.(2009) Perceived Discrimination and Self-Reported Quality of Care Among Latinos in the United States. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 24(3), pp 548-554.

Perez, D., Ang, A. and Vega, WA. (2009) Effects of Health Insurance on Quality of Care among Latinos in the United States. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Volume 24, Issue 3, Page 548

Alegría, M, Sribney, W., Perez, P. Laderman,M. and Keefe, K. (2009) The Role of Patient Activation on Patient–Provider Communication and Quality of Care for US and Foreign Born Latino Patients Journal of General Internal Medicine. Volume 24, Issue 3, Page 534.