Health & Wellness Science & Technology Society & Culture

State of Public Health Conference to tackle health care reform on Oct. 3

Athens, Ga. – Len M. Nichols, a renowned health care economist and professor of health policy at George Mason University, will address national health care reform in his keynote speech at the University of Georgia College of Public Health’s second annual State of Public Health Conference Oct. 3 at the Classic Center in Athens.

With interactive workshops and hot topics talks, the State of Public Health Conference brings Georgia’s public health professionals together with elected officials, policymakers, academics and business leaders with the goal of crafting an actionable plan to improve Georgia’s public health outcomes.

“Just in the last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Georgia has the sixth-highest rate of uninsured residents, while a study from the Commonwealth Fund ranked Georgia 46th in health care access and affordability for low-income families,” said Marsha Davis, the director of the Georgia Public Health Training Center and associate dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Public Health. “These statistics point to the state’s persistent health challenges and where we hope the State of Public Health Conference becomes a catalyst for change.”

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, will give the luncheon plenary talk. Additional speakers will include Renee Unterman, R-Buford, chairman, Georgia Senate Health Committee; Dr. Tim Jones, state epidemiologist, Tennessee Department of Health; and Phaedra Corso, professor of health policy and management, UGA College of Public Health.

Conference workshops will tackle a variety of key public health issues in the state. Topics will range from public health implications of the Affordable Care Act and public health leadership through collective impact strategies to worksite wellness, risk communication and breast cancer genomics.

“The emerging issues we are addressing this year-health care reform, economic viability and return of investment in public health, leadership in communities-these are what public health professionals are facing right now,” Davis said. “The goal of this conference is to bring these passionate individuals together to collaboratively tackle these challenges and, in turn, figure out how we can leverage our strengths to shape what the state of public health in Georgia could be.”

Nichols, who will kick off the conference with his keynote talk, serves as director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University. He founded and directed Health CEOs for Health Reform and has testified frequently before Congress and state legislatures. He also has published widely in a variety of health journals and is a public speaker on health policy and politics.

Prior to George Mason, Nichols served as director of the Health Policy Program at New America Foundation, the vice president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute and the senior adviser for health policy in the Office of Management and Budget during Clinton administration reform efforts and chair of the economics department at Wellesley College.

Nichols received his doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

The event, though geared toward public health professionals, is open to the public. Registration is $25. For more information or to register, see

UGA College of Public Health
Founded in 2005 as a response to the state’s need to address important health concerns in Georgia, the UGA College of Public Health is comprised of four departments and two research institutes as well as the Center for Global Health. The college offers degree programs in biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health promotion and behavior, public health, health policy and management and toxicology as well as certificate programs in gerontology, disaster management and global health. For more information, see