Omar A. Escontrías, DrPH, MPH

Vice President, Research, Education, and Programs  |  [email protected]

By the time Dr. Omar Escontrías joined the National Health Council in April 2022 as its Vice President of Research, Education, and Programs, he’d already spent decades building a career fighting systemic health care inequalities in historically underrepresented and racial/ethnic (HURE) communities.

Born in the northern México border community of Ciudad Juárez, Dr. Escontrías is a proud first-generation immigrant, boasting his bilingual and bicultural background as one of his greatest strengths.

Dr. Escontrías was six years old when he immigrated to the United States with his mother, settling in Tucson, AZ. Tucson quickly became a beloved second home to Dr. Escontrías, attending the University of Arizona where he would earn three degrees, including a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, and a Doctorate in Public Health Policy and Management in 2019.

Dr. Escontrías also made an impact outside of the classroom, joining the nation’s first Latino fraternity and quickly taking on a leadership role with Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. This would spark a new chapter in his life as an organizer for volunteer outreach projects and grassroots advocacy.

In 2009, Dr. Escontrías joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, working in the Obesity Prevention Branch as a research fellow, and specializing in childhood obesity, specifically in HURE youth.

From there, he returned to Arizona, this time serving as an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) from 2010 to 2012 and then managing the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program from 2012 to 2017. This work would also lead Escontrías into a long-running relationship as a senior member of the Arizona Diabetes Leadership Council and Coalition. Dr. Escontrías’ tenure at ADHS focused on scaling diabetes management and prevention programs for the vulnerable across the state.

Dr. Escontrías then made the move to Washington D.C., serving as the Senior Director of Policy Research for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) from 2017 to 2021. At ADEA, he published multiple policy research reports, peer-reviewed journals, and policy briefs to advance dental education.

Escontrías had by now spent years directly observing the social, cultural, and linguistic barriers faced by Hispanic/Latinx communities across the country and began looking for a new opportunity to help improve minority access to comprehensive health care coverage.

That search soon led Escontrías to the NHC, where he was impressed with its 2022 to 2024 strategic plan, especially those areas of focus regarding the advancement of health ecosystem policy reforms to optimize patient health and prioritizing health equity across the health ecosystem.

Backed up by his wealth of bicultural experiences, from his earliest days as a child in México, to his years organizing community outreach projects, Dr. Escontrías is thrilled to be contributing to the NHC’s patient-centered advocacy and policy engagement efforts.