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Advancing Equity Through Partnership

Equity Advisory Council

Justice in Aging’s Equity Advisory Council, founded in May 2022, provides advice and input on the organization’s equity advocacy, including the Strategic Initiative to Advance Equity. The Council was created with an aim to change how Justice in Aging approaches partnership and outreach while centering equity. In addition to providing advice and input on Justice in Aging’s equity work, the Council also facilitates connections among council members, all of whom are thought leaders with expertise on certain equity issues and/or have relationships with different communities. Many of the council members are longtime and regular partners in Justice in Aging’s advocacy. Council members are identified below in alphabetical order. Questions about the Equity Advisory Council can be directed to Denny Chan at

Jean C. Accius, Phd

Dr. Jean Accius is a passionate champion and catalyst for changing how the world sees and values aging. He is an internationally recognized thought leader on aging, longevity, equity, health systems transformation, and modernizing the delivery and financing of long-term care. As President & CEO of CHC: Creating Healthier Communities, Jean leads a high-performing team that is dedicated to breaking down the barriers to health and empowering communities to thrive. With business acumen and deep experience across sectors, Dr. Accius understands how to develop creative and actionable solutions, policies, and programs that uncover the economic advantages of addressing disparities. He has a proven track record of collaborating across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to accelerate the pace of change. Dr. Accius holds a Bachelor’s Degree in hospitality administration, a Master’s Degree in aging studies from the Claude Pepper Institute at Florida State University, and a Ph.D. in public administration from American University. He is a graduate of Leadership Maryland’s Class of 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health program on health reform, and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Corporate Innovation program.

Larry Curley

Larry Curley is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. He received his education at the University of Arizona, where he received his Masters Degree in Public Administration and a Certificate in Gerontology. In addition, he attended the University of New Mexico where he undertook his Doctoral studies in Political Science and went to Brandeis University where he also undertook a doctoral program at the Heller School of Advanced Social Studies. He has worked in the field of aging and health care for over 40 years, starting out as a planner at an Area Agency on Aging in Pima County, Arizona where he was instrumental in establishing a County Public Fiduciary program. He was also a lobbyist in Washington, DC during which time he successfully advocated for the passage of “Title VI of the Older Americans Act,” an amendment which he drafted. He also directed one of the five largest Head Start programs in the country when he directed the Navajo Nation’s Head Start program, served as the Nursing Home Administrator of a tribal long-term care facility, and a hospital administrator in northern Nevada. He has served on many commissions, boards, and was a college instructor at the University of Nevada-Reno and Eastern Washington University. Twice, he was appointed as the Executive Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Health under two different administrations, and was named Indian Health Service’s “CEO of the Year” in 2014. In 2018, he was named as the Assistant Dean of the Four Corners Region for the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine and served as the public representative on the American College of Physicians Clinical Practices Committee. Prior to being selected as the Executive Director of the National Indian Council on Aging, he served as the Director of Program Development for the Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services in northwest New Mexico.

Yanira Cruz, Phd

Dr. Yanira Cruz is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. She focuses on providing the Latino perspective on public health, older adult and caregiver issues to increase policy-maker and public understanding of the needs impacting vulnerable sectors of our society and to encourage the adoption of programs and policies that equitably serve everyone. To further these efforts, Dr. Cruz serves on Justice in Aging’s board, is a member of the American Society on Aging (ASA) for more than 10 years, and is a member of the Leaders of Aging Organizations (LAO). She is also a founding member of the Diverse Elders Coalition. Recently, Dr. Cruz was named one of the top 50 Influencers in Aging by Next Avenue. Dr. Cruz is an appointee serving on the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, which advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Cruz received her Bachelor of Science in Biology and holds a Master’s degree in Public Health and a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in global health from The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.
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Cara V. James, Phd, President and CEO

Cara James is President and CEO at Grantmakers In Health (GIH). Prior to joining GIH, she served as Director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) where she provided leadership, vision, and direction to advance the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CMS goals related to reducing disparities and achieving health equity for vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic populations, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and persons living in rural communities. Under her guidance, CMS developed its first CMS Equity Plan to Improve Quality in Medicare, its first Rural Health Strategy, created an ongoing initiative to help individuals understand their coverage and connect to care, increased the collection and reporting of demographic data, and developed numerous resources to help stakeholders in their efforts to reduce disparities. Before joining CMS, Dr. James served as Director of the Disparities PolicyProject and Director of the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, where she was responsible for addressing a broad array of health and access to care issues for people of color and other underserved populations, including the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, analyses of state-level disparities in health and access to care, and disparities in access to care among individuals living in health professional shortage areas. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked at Harvard University and The Picker Institute. Dr. James is a past member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Health and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and has served on several NASEM committees. She has published a number of peer-reviewed articles. Dr. James holds her doctorate in health policy and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University.

Karyne Jones

Karyne Jones is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc. (NCBA) based in Washington, DC. NCBA is the oldest minority focused aging organization recognized as the leader in senior housing, employment, health, and advocacy on behalf of older adults of color. Prior to becoming NCBA’s CEO, Karyne was Executive Director of Federal Relations for SBC Comminutions (now ATT). She was elected and served eight years as State Representative in the Texas Legislature representing San Antonio and prior to that, was an elected Board Trustee of the East Central Independent School District. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Karyne is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Georgia with a BA in Political Science, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois and a second Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Karyne currently serves on the national boards of directors for Alzheimer’s Association, Generations United, Center for Innovation, and is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board for the American Society on Aging.

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Kimberly Jones Merchant

Kimberly Jones Merchant is the Director of the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute and Network, a national leadership program grounded in a commitment to race equity with a community driven focus as an integral part of anti-poverty advocacy. Prior to joining the Shriver Center, Kimberly served as the Director of the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Educational Opportunities Campaign and the Managing Attorney of the Delta Office. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a J.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

Kylie Madhav

Kylie Madhav is the Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SAGE where she defines the strategic vision for SAGE’s external-facing DEI work and leads in designing the organization’s DEI action plans, goals, and benchmarks. Previously, she worked as the Clinical Support Services Manager at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center. Over her career, she has worked on behalf of immigrant and LGBTQ+ communities in New York, the Dominican Republic, and Mumbai, India. Kylie holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management as well as an MSW and BA in Linguistics and Law & Society from New York University. She is fluent in French, English, Spanish, and Haitian Kreyòl, and enjoys delving into the extensive literary canon of her fifth language: Tamil. She currently resides in New York City with her husband.
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Amy Matsui

Amy K. Matsui is Director of Income Security and Senior Counsel at the National Women’s Law Center. She leads the Center’s work on a broad range of economic issues affecting low- and moderate-income women and families, including federal tax policy, public benefits programs, gender and racial wealth gaps, and women’s retirement security. Her work comprises policy analysis, administrative and legislative advocacy, and public education and outreach, with the goal of increasing gender, racial, and economic equity. She has written numerous reports and articles on women’s economic security, testified before Congress and federal agencies, and been featured as an expert in the media. Prior to joining the Center in 2002, Ms. Matsui was a litigation associate at Farella Braun + Martel LLP, in San Francisco, CA. She clerked for the Honorable Carolyn Dineen King, then-Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in 2000. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford Law School. Before law school, Ms. Matsui taught 4th grade ESL and middle- and high-school French.
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Teresa Nguyen

Teresa Nguyen is Director of the Community Living Equity Center within the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy. Proudly identifying as an Asian American woman with a disability, she received her Master of Public Health degree from the University of Colorado Denver, Anschutz Medical Campus. Her work is focused on addressing gaps in inequities found in community living and participation experiences and outcomes faced by disabled people of color. Teresa has experience in both federal and state-level health programs and policy development, including previous service within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, as a program officer for the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) Programs. She is thrilled to continue molding programs and policies by contributing to disability research and engaging the disability community in all aspects of her work.

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Jason Resendez

Jason Resendez is the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving, where he leads research, policy, and innovation initiatives to build health, wealth, and equity for America’s 55 million family caregivers.  Prior to joining NAC, Jason was the founding executive director of the UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Center for Brain Health Equity and was the principal investigator of a $1.5 million Healthy Brain Initiative cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While at UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Jason pioneered the concept of Brain Health Equity through peer-reviewed research, public health partnerships, and public policy.  His efforts to champion health and racial justice for patients and caregivers have earned national recognition and, in 2020, Resendez was named one of America’s top influencers in aging by PBS’s Next Avenue alongside Michael J. Fox and Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Jason has been quoted by The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, STAT News, Time, Newsweek, and Univision on health equity issues.

Odette Williamson

Odette Williamson is a Senior Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) where she promotes sustainable homeownership among low-income people, including efforts to prevent foreclosures, curb predatory mortgage lending, and preserve the income and assets of consumers of color. Ms. Williamson directs NCLC’s Racial Justice and Equal Opportunity Project and oversees NCLC’s Elder Rights Initiative. She provides training and support to hundreds of consumer lawyers, legal services attorneys, and lay advocates each year. Ms. Williamson provides testimony and comments to legislative and administrative agencies on matters affecting low-income and elderly consumers, and consumers of color. She testified before the Senate Special Committee on Aging in a hearing entitled “Frauds, Scams and COVID-19: How Con Artists Have Targeted Older Americans During the Pandemic.” Ms. Williamson writes extensively for NCLC’s legal practice publications for consumer lawyers. She is the co-author of the National Consumer Law Center’s Mortgage Servicing and Loan Modifications and Home Foreclosures manuals.

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