How We Work

The Justice, Health and Democracy Impact Initiative connects the best expertise to on-the-ground need with  rapid “orient-do-learn-do” cycles of research, policy implementation and locally-driven innovation. 


Our experts work with leader practitioners to understand the challenge people are facing on a policy issue from multiple levels of governance: local, state and national. Experts then incorporate the needs of practitioners and people into policy research. We then stress test policy approaches with practitioners to ensure the policy solution: 1) is coordinated across jurisdictions; and 2) addresses needs at the local, state and national levels. 


We then work with partners at the national, state and local levels to broadly disseminate the policy solution. We follow up with partners to understand how the policy is being implemented on the ground, what is working, what needs further refinement, and how leader practitioners are innovating the policy to meet the needs of their communities. Leader practitioner experiences, learnings and feedback are then incorporated into our research to refine the policy solution, which is then shared with national level policy makers and associations. 

The integrative policy-making model works.

Over the course of several months in early 2020, and again in 2021, Harvard’s  Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, working with New America, Brown University School of Public Health, and a network of nationally recognized experts, mayors and other local leaders, led an effort that converged multidisciplinary expert resources with practitioner need to craft effective responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The result was clear,  accessible guidance to local leaders on how to target and suppress COVID-19 more effectively in their localities, including in schools to keep them safe for in-person learning.

    • The model for the first time converged public health technical advice, metrics and key performance indicators for  the COVID-19 response, providing needed clarity to public health officials and the public. 
    • It produced a range of recommendations and policy  supports that can be tailored to a locality’s characteristics and experience with the disease
    • These included two  policy roadmaps on pandemic resilience and disease suppression, strategy briefings, a technical advisory manual, and data tools designed for practitioner use.
    • Informed  by local leaders’ needs and the experiences of their communities, the model’s recommendations were adopted at every level  of government from the U.S. Conference for Mayors and the National Association of City and County Health Officials to the  National Governors’ Association, the House and Senate, and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.  

    JHD partners Harvard Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, New America, and Brown University School of Public Health invite collaboration on research, policy, and dissemination.  For more information, contact