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Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, MD/MSc (She/Her)

Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, is the inaugural Executive Director of the Collaborative in Health Equity at the University of Massachusetts T.H. Chan Medical School and UMass Memorial Health. She is also a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a Professor in the Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Population & Quantitative Health Sciences. Her efforts will seek to center health equity throughout all aspects of clinical care, research, education, and community engagement; leveraging institution-spanning, community-wide, and global assets which foster and sustain community embeddedness and trust while nurturing the recruitment, retention, and promotion of underrepresented minorities in medicine (URiM) across trainees, faculty, staff, and leadership. Her vision is for UMass Chan Medical School to become the premier academic institution nationally and globally in advancing health equity for vulnerable, underserved, and historically marginalized communities.

From 2008 - 2023, Dr. Johnson-Agbakwu was the Founding Director of the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (RWHC) at Valleywise Health in Phoenix, AZ, and the Director of the Office of Refugee Health in the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at Arizona State University. Her research focused on investigating strategies to advance sexual and reproductive health equity for women of color, including migrant women, with the aim of improving health care access and utilization, sexual and reproductive health education, counseling, community engagement, as well as enhance health care provider cultural competency.

The RWHC was the first of its kind in the state of Arizona and has been nationally recognized as an innovative best practice model of care wherein she has spearheaded a unique patient-centered medical home for migrant families. Exponential growth beyond women’s services, has led to the care of over 16,000 patients across Women’s Health, Pediatrics, Internal and Family Medicine, hailing from 68 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia, and the Middle East and speaking over 71 languages.

She has led a federally funded effort to improve health care services, community engagement and provider cultural competency on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), gender-based violence, and has provided consultative expertise to the CDC and WHO on refugee women’s health and FGM/C.

Dr. Johnson-Agbakwu has garnered numerous awards including most recently: the 2022 APGO Humanism in Teaching Award, the 2022 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation on behalf of the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Phoenix, the 2022 Lisa C Bruch Woman of the Year Award by the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Program in Human Sexuality Inaugural 50 Distinguished Sexual and Gender Health Revolutionaries Award, the 2021 ISSWSH Humanitarian Service Award, and the 2018 ACOG CREOG National Faculty Award for Excellence in Resident Education.

Circular portrait of Dr. Crista Johnson-Agbakwu, African American woman with short dark brown hair, a multicolored blouse, and a silver wristwatch. Her hand is on her chin and she is smiling at the camera.

Executive Director, Health Equity Collaborative
Professor, Ob/Gyn