Addiction & Overdose

Get to Know Shelina Davis

February 16, 2024

As the CEO of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, Shelina Davis gets to work with communities to advance fairness, justice, and health. The leadership role is the culmination of a journey for Davis, who grew up in a small town in Louisiana. It also is the start of a new opportunity for impact.

After graduating high school, Davis attended Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically black and Catholic university. Initially hoping to pursue a degree in psychology or medicine, Davis changed course when a mentor told her about public health and social work in her junior year. It was then that she realized she wanted to focus on addressing both people's individual needs and the policies that support their health and well-being.

Prepared with her bachelor's and master’s degrees, Davis was ready to make an impact when tragedy struck--Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the worst storms to hit the state, causing severe damage and resulting in nearly 1400 deaths.

In the aftermath of Katrina, Davis helped to support the launch of a food, music, and craft market in the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the most impacted neighborhoods in New Orleans. “I was proud because I was able to do something small to help bring life and joy to our community,” Davis says. “It was particularly important for a neighborhood that was forgotten when resources poured into the city post-hurricane Katrina.”

Davis followed her passion for mental health and social justice to Washington, D.C. where in the last three years there, she served as Assistant Vice President of Practice Improvement at the National Council for Mental Wellbeing (formerly known as National Council for Behavioral Health). In this role, she led the strategic oversight and development of public health initiatives that supported community-based organizations as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governmental agencies.

Her desire to continue to make an impact on her community led her back home to the Louisiana Public Health Institute, while her desire to expand her network led her to pursue her DrPH degree through the Bloomberg Fellowship program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Everyone I have met within the fellowship brings so much passion to the work and continues to inspire me,” she said. “I am so thankful to have a network of partners who care as deeply, if not more, about public health and justice as I do.”

After completing her degree, Davis hopes to continue her work at the Louisiana Public Health Institute and leverage the skills she learned during the Fellowship to make Louisiana the healthiest state in the nation. Davis will work alongside her colleagues and partners to advocate for policies that create access to healthcare for everyone who needs it as well as policies that support the freedom of individuals to nurture families in safe, sustainable communities. 

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