Debra Joy Pérez, Ph.D., M.P.A.

Debra Joy Pérez
Chief Equity Officer

Debra (she, her, hers) is the Chief Equity Officer and Senior Advisor to USP’s CEO. Debra joined USP in 2021 when she launched USP’s Equity Office; through which she guides the organization in implementing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) a. Her primary duties include centering equity in existing and newly developed operational policies, practices, and strategies and serving as a resource for advancing inclusive management practices among people managers. She provides input into strategic plans for the broader organization, including identifying individual, group, and organizational development opportunities, and defining and evaluating strategies and programs to drive diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence practices in business goals and priorities.

Prior to USP, Debra was Senior Philanthropic Advisor and Independent Executive Consultant to national foundations and federal grant making entities. In her practice, she facilitated the development of organization-wide equity and inclusion principles for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an independent nonprofit, nongovernmental organization in Washington, DC. In her philanthropic work, Debra assessed existing national public health leadership programming for the development of a new emergent leader program. Debra approaches her work as a partner with internal teams to turn DEIB strategies to advance equity into results. This includes building staff capacity and skills to have necessary yet difficult conversations on racism, ableism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.

Career Highlights:

  • Simmons University: Senior Vice President, Organizational Culture, Inclusion & Equity
  • Gordon Betty Moore Foundation: Chief Measurement/Monitoring Officer
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation: Vice President, Research, Evaluation and Learning


  • Harvard University, Ph.D., Health Policy
  • City University New York, M.P.A., Public Administration
  • University of Kent, M.S.S., Women’s Studies
  • Rutgers University, B.A., Communication

Awards, Recognition, Admissions: 

  • National Science Foundation, Education, Human Resources Scientific Advisory Committee- Broadening Participation Lead
  • Thomas Jefferson University, Honorary Doctorate & Commencement Speaker
  • Hispanic Inspiring Student Achievement – National Mentoring Award
  • Latino Trendsetter, Latino Trends Magazine
  • Distinguished Alumnae, Douglass Society, Rutgers University
  • W.K. Kellogg Fellowship in Health Policy Research at Harvard University

Professional Achievements:

  • Implemented inclusive hiring practices leading to substantial increase in historically under-represented staff hires from 27% in September 2018 to 42% in 18 months
  • Established the organization’s first unit specializing in measurement, evaluation and learning and integrating processes within program design, adaptive management, and continuous learning.
  • Designed Accountability Framework working with senior leaders to establish organization-wide performance and accountability including co-creating over 300 performance measures for 33 portfolios
  • Developed many initiatives to foster multidisciplinary research and for expanding various dimensions of equity, inclusion, and diversity.

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