NASHP Board Appoints Hemi Tewarson as Executive Director


Hemi Tewarson, JD, MPH

The Board of Directors of the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) announced today that it has appointed Hemi Tewarson, JD, MPH, as its next Executive Director. NASHP is a nonpartisan forum of policymakers throughout state governments, learning, leading and implementing innovative solutions to health policy challenges.

Tewarson joins NASHP from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy where she has been a leader of the Center's emerging state policy portfolio, including COVID-19 response work. Previously Tewarson served as director for the Health Division of the National Governors Association's (NGA) Center for Best Practices, overseeing a broad portfolio including COVID-19 response, Medicaid and private health insurance, health care delivery and payment system reform, workforce, opioids and behavioral health, and social determinants. She also served as senior attorney for the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Government Accountability Office where she worked on Medicaid issues. Tewarson will succeed NASHP's Executive Director Trish Riley who built NASHP and has led it for most of the past three decades.

"Hemi brings a wealth of expertise and experience working with state officials, federal policymakers, and the broad range of stakeholders who help shape state health policy," said Board Chair Nikki Highsmith. "She is the ideal leader at this moment in NASHP and our nation's history, and we are confident that Hemi will build upon Trish Riley's amazing legacy in helping state officials meet the wide array of health challenges they face."

"I am thrilled and honored to assume this role at a critical time for states," said Tewarson. "I look forward to working closely with state officials in COVID-19 recovery efforts to improve the lives of their state residents and promote health equity. I am committed to ensuring that our staff represents the diversity of communities in states and that they have the skills and resources to be successful."

At Duke-Margolis, Tewarson leads the Center's expansion of its work with states which includes vaccine distribution and education, coverage and health system reform, Medicaid system improvements, and addressing equity within and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. This portfolio brings together a wide array of state, local, private sector, national experts and other leaders and results in work that influences and informs federal and state policy.

"Hemi's background working across a wide range of health policy issues and her high energy, coupled with NASHP's great state leaders and staff, assures a bright future for the organization," said Trish Riley, who will become president emerita upon her retirement. "I look forward to supporting Hemi as she leads a new, important chapter in NASHP's history."

NASHP, with a staff of 40 and an annual budget of more than $9 million, has helped state health officials learn from each other and experts in the field to find novel solutions to a wide range of issues, focusing on areas such as prescription drug pricing, population health, health coverage and access, payment and delivery reform, health systems costs, chronic and complex populations, and maternal, child, and adolescent health. During the ongoing pandemic, NASHP has created a 50-state COVID-19 tracking tool to monitor vaccine rollout, state policies related to closures and mask requirements, best practices for contract tracing, and COVID-19 data collection by race and ethnicity.

"State officials rely on NASHP to learn from each other and from health policy experts across the country to help them in addressing health policy challenges," said MaryAnne Lindeblad, Chair of NASHP's Executive Committee and Medicaid Director, Washington State Health Care Authority. "Hemi is one of those experts and has demonstrated a deep understanding of the problems states face. I am certain that NASHP will continue to thrive under her leadership."

Tewarson was selected following a six-month national search conducted by a committee of the Board and Academy members with the assistance of Korn Ferry. Tewarson will be based in NASHP's Washington, DC, offices, and will join NASHP on June 1, 2021.

NASHP is a nonpartisan forum of policymakers throughout state governments, learning, leading and implementing innovative solutions to health policy challenges. NASHP supports states as they reach across branches and agencies examining and creating solutions to critical health issues. It is supported by a broad array of funding sources, including government, foundations, and strategic corporate partnerships.

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