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O’Connor, JD, DrPH, FACHE

Principal Associate, Health & Environment

Dr. Jean C. O'Connor is a public health practitioner and lawyer with more than two decades of experience moving best practices and evidence-based prevention strategies to practice. She has worked at the federal and state level with communities, educators, policy makers, healthcare providers, and private sector leaders to develop, evaluate, and improve programs, systems, and policies that support population health. She has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and developed programs, toolkits, model policies, and training strategies to support improved health and reduced rates of chronic diseases in community settings. Her work has also included developing national reports and strategies, such as the Health People 2020 law and policy report on nutrition and weight status and the first version of the National Health Security Strategy.

At Abt, her work will focus on projects with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) around social determinants of health and building equitable, resilient, and healthy communities. She will apply her experience in implementation science and as a policy researcher to support CDC clients in designing and evaluating policies and programs that can be brought to scale to improve health outcomes. She will also support projects at the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to move evidence-based prevention strategies to practice in healthcare settings.

Prior to joining Abt, she served in senior and executive roles in state public health, at CDC, in consulting, and in a federally-qualified community health center. Her research and practice resulted in the adoption of state and federal public health laws and policies and strategic plans She also helped develop new programs and strategies related to chronic disease, alcohol, tobacco and other substance use, and emergency preparedness and response. For example, in Georgia, she led the state in making significant progress in lowering the tobacco use rates among adults and youth That was the result of a policy change initiative that supported nearly all public K-12 schools and public universities in going tobacco-free. She also worked on policy and systems changes in early education and K-12 schools to help move toward less obesogenic environments and with healthcare providers to increase rates of HPV vaccination.

O’Connor is also an adjunct professor of behavioral sciences at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory and a part-time associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Georgia. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and was named as a Fulbright specialist is global health and in law in 2018.


  • Policy and program evaluation
  • Implementation science
  • Public health law and policy analysis
  • Non-communicable disease and injury prevention 
  • Population health improvement

Key Projects:

  • Project Director, Addressing Mis and Disinformation Related to COVID-19 in the Black Community, funded by CDC Foundation 
  • Lead Consultant, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention Growth Planning Initiative
  • Chronic Disease/Health Promotion Director, State of Georgia, numerous non-communicable and intentional injury projects funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Principal Investigator, Food and Language Nutrition – Reducing Disparities Beginning in Early Childhood, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health
  • Co-Investigator. Methamphetamine Precursor Laws and Policies, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice


  • Allen, P., O’Connor, J. C., Best, L., Lakshman, M., Jacob, R., & Brownson, R. C. (2018). Management practices to build evidence-based decision making for chronic disease prevention in Georgia: A case study. Preventing Chronic Disease, 15, 170482.
  • Gentili, M., Harati, P., Serban, N., O’Connor, J. C., & Swann J. (2018). Quantifying disparities in accessibility and availability of pediatric primary care across multiple states with implications for targeted interventions. Health Services Research, 53(3), 1458–1477.
  • Berg, C. J., Thrasher, J. F., O’Connor, J., Haardörfer, R., & Kegler, M. C. (2015). Reactions to smoke-free policies and messaging strategies in support and opposition: A comparison of Southerners and non-Southerners in the US. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 2(6), 408–420. PMCID: PMC4686148.
  • McBride, D. C, Terry-McElrath, Y. M., Chriqui, J. F., O’Connor, J. C., & VanderWaal, C. J., & Mattson, K. L. (2011). State methamphetamine precursor policies and changes in small toxic lab methamphetamine production. Journal of Drug Issues, 41(2), 253–281.
  • Chriqui, J. F., O’Connor, J. C., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2011). What gets measured gets changed: Evaluating law and policy for maximum impact. The Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, 39(1, Suppl 1), 21–26. PMID: 21309890.
Jean O'Connor