Current Fellows


Kristin Ashford, PhD, WHNP-BC, FAAN

Kristin Ashford is a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing where she serves as the associate dean of Undergraduate Faculty and Interprofessional Education Affairs. As a fellow of the Center for Interdisciplinary Heath Education, she has led curricular transformation including integration of health policy competencies and instruction. Presently, as the Good Samaritan endowed chair of community nursing, she drives innovative, impactful state-academic and community partnerships to transform health care for perinatal and parenting women. She has led the creation of two perinatal substance use treatment (SUD) programs, PATHways and Beyond Birth, that bridge gaps and advance healthcare in SUD treatment for perinatal women. Together, these community-based programs provide comprehensive treatment including wrap-around services for pregnant and parenting women and their children using intentional linkages to proven local, telehealth, and community-based services.

As founder and director of the Perinatal Research and Wellness Center, Ashford leads an interprofessional team to translate research into practice while informing policy makers on maternal and child health issues. She has led prospective research studies funded by the National Institutes of Health, Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation, and the Alex and Rita Hillman Foundation Innovation in Care Program, determining the health effects of perinatal substance use, including tobacco, electronic cigarette, cannabis, and opioids, on immune response and birth outcomes. Through this transformational work coupled with her advocacy for nursing research as a Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research ambassador, Ashford was recognized as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Ashford received her BS at Washburn University in Kansas and completed her training as a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner at the University of Louisville. She further completed her PhD and NIH postdoctoral fellowship, Building Interprofessional Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRWCH), at the University of Kentucky.

Brenda J. Baker, PhD, RN, FAAN

Brenda J. Baker is an assistant professor of nursing at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. As a clinical nurse specialist, Baker provided leadership and clinical education in the areas of maternal and newborn care and quality and safety efforts focused on reducing maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and a recipient of a March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award. Baker is the founder of the Georgia Prison Motherhood Project, a collaboration between Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and the Georgia Department of Corrections. This collaboration provides nursing students the opportunity to participate in and provide prenatal education, labor, and postpartum support for incarcerated women.

Baker is actively involved in policy and advocacy efforts related to care of incarcerated women and their children and serves on state and national committees representing the unique needs of incarcerated women. Her research has focused on health disparities experienced by incarcerated pregnant women, substance use disorders among women, and the role of social support in the transition to motherhood. A co-investigator on numerous grants, Baker has examined and published on the topics of mothers of preterm infants, evidence-based care for pregnant women and newborns, and maternal and neonatal outcomes of incarcerated women.

After earning a diploma in nursing, Baker earned a BA in health care administration from Mary Baldwin College and an MN from Emory University School of Nursing. She completed her PhD in nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University and a JM at Emory University School of Law.

Angela K. Perone, PhD, JD, MSW, MA

Angela (Angie) Perone is a licensed attorney and the founding executive director of SAGE Metro Detroit, the only local affiliate in Michigan of the largest and oldest organization serving LGBTQ+ older adults (SAGE USA). In five years, she has increased its annual budget from less than $50,000 to over $500,000 and tripled its staff. She also secured nearly $1.4 million in multiyear funding to support services to this community, including significant services centered around mental, physical, and nutritional health support. Prior to serving as an executive director, Perone worked as a civil rights attorney for eight years. During this time, she oversaw a national LGBTQ+ Elder Law Program at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. While in Michigan, Perone also served two appointed terms on Michigan’s State Advisory Council on Aging.

Dr. Perone's research focuses on healthy and equitable aging, caregiving, and long-term care and merges law, social work, and social science. After completing her term as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow, Perone will start a position as an assistant professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Social Welfare where she will also lead its Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services.

Perone received a BA from the University of Illinois and a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She also received a PhD in social work and sociology, a master’s in sociology, an MSW, and a graduate certificate in science, technology, and society from the University of Michigan.

Ann Marie Sheehy, MD, MS

Ann Sheehy is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, where she serves as division head of Hospital Medicine in the Department of Medicine. In this role, she leads a division of approximately 70 physician and advanced practice providers in delivering acute inpatient care at UW Health, including care for the majority of hospitalized UW Health patients with COVID-19 during the pandemic. In addition to her administrative and clinical roles, Sheehy conducts policy research on Medicare hospital outpatient (observation) status. In particular, her research focuses on how observation legislation and regulation may impact the most disadvantaged Medicare beneficiaries.

Due to her perspective as a clinician and a researcher, she has provided testimony in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on short-stay hospitalization issues in the Medicare program. Most recently, she served as pro bono expert witness for the plaintiffs in Alexander v. Azar, a federal case advocating for Medicare beneficiary rights to appeal when hospitalized in outpatient (observation) status. She has also served as president of the medical staff at UW, board chair of Agrace Hospice, and chair of the Society of Hospital Medicine Public Policy Committee, and she has represented the University of Wisconsin as faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and Big Ten Conference.

Sheehy received her BA in human biology from Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California, followed by her medical degree and master’s in clinical research from Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School, respectively, in Rochester, Minnesota. She completed internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, prior to returning to her home state of Wisconsin to join UW as faculty physician. She is board certified in internal medicine with a focused practice in hospital medicine.

Brian Williams, MD

Brian Williams is a professor of trauma and acute care surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine, the founding program director of the adult surgical critical care fellowship, the co-director of the surgical intensive care unit, and an instructor of racial disparities in health care at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. As a frontline clinician, medical educator, and public speaker, Williams is a nationally recognized leader in racial justice, gun violence, and health equity.

Williams has excelled in several leadership roles in the military, academic medicine, public health, and public policy. He began his career serving as a United States Air Force officer, directing classified research and developmental test programs. Since transitioning to medicine, he has had extensive experience as a trauma surgeon at some of the busiest urban centers in the country. Williams gained national prominence after leading the team that cared for police officers ambushed on July 7, 2016, in Dallas, Texas. Recognizing his commitment to service, the mayor of Dallas appointed Williams as chair of the Citizens Police Review Board. His leadership and expertise in public health and safety helped unite the Dallas Police Department, community activists, police unions, and the city council to reform the role civilians served in police oversight.

Williams received his BS in aeronautical engineering from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduating with military honors. He received his MD from the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa; completed general surgery residency training at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and completed two fellowships, trauma surgery and surgical critical care, at Emory University/Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

Charlton Wilson, MD

Charlton Wilson has been the chief medical officer of Mercy Care, a local, nonprofit health plan serving Medicaid and dual-eligible beneficiaries in Arizona. For over a decade, his work helped to serve high-needs populations through direction of quality management, integrated medical and behavioral health management, and practice transformation supports. He oversaw value-based analytics teams and practice transformation consultants that helped providers to succeed in their practices. He collaborated with government agencies, plan members, providers, universities, and the community to ensure that comprehensive quality health care was accessible and worked to address the circumstances that impacted the well-being of all members.

Prior to joining Mercy Care, Wilson served as a commissioned officer with US Public Health Service (USPHS), Indian Health Service (IHS). In addition to working in clinical care, he traveled throughout the United States to develop and strengthen disease management and performance measurement programs that contributed to the mission of the IHS. He also designed, implemented, and improved specialty services for people affected by HIV, diabetes, and cancer in a manner that resulted in sustained clinical improvements and earned him USPHS medals for his excellence in clinical care and research efforts.

He earned a bachelor of arts in history at Texas A&M University and his doctor of medicine degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Wilson completed his internal medicine residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and served as assistant chief of service. He is board certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a fellow of both the American College of Physicians and of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Wilson has served on numerous community boards and is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.

Key Information

The 2022-23 Call for Applications (CFA) for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health Policy Fellows is now open! The deadline to submit your application electronically via MyRWJF is Friday, November 12 at 3:00pm ET. Learn More >