Up & Comers - 2015
Deputy Director, California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity
William Jahmal Miller says he is motivated in his work by a startling California statistic. In 2012, the last year for which data are available, there were 9.8 black infant deaths per 1,000 live births, a rate nearly three times higher than that for white infants.
Data like this made him jump at the opportunity to become deputy director at the California Department of Public Health Office of Health Equity, an office created in 2012 to reduce physical and mental health disparities in vulnerable communities.
Aspirations: I see my future very aligned to the work I am doing now.
Leadership philosophy: We are endowed by our creator with a sense of purpose in the world. We have a responsibility to give back.
Something surprising: I traveled to Cuba as part of an education fellowship.
"My role is to really be a leader in the state and help with brand messaging about the importance of addressing mental and physical health disparities," he said. To highlight those disparities, Miller helped oversee the development and release of a strategic plan in September called Portrait of a Promise, which examines physical and mental health equity and the social, economic and environmental conditions that affect well-being. He is also helping to oversee the allotment of $60 million in contracts and grants over the next four years for projects to further the office's mission.
"It was easy to recognize his gifts for motivating and connecting with others to achieve what might feel like impossible objectives," said Dante Allen, one of Miller's colleagues at the Office of Health Equity.--Virgil Dickson