About Us

Founded in 2006, the Society of Health Policy Young Professionals (“The Society”) is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer-led organization designed to meet the diverse needs of DC-area young professionals interested in the health, health care, and health policy fields. The Society seeks to help young professionals forge meaningful and long-term professional relationships, offer a wealth of career-related information and tools, and provide regularly scheduled social and career-development events.

Our mission is to bring together professionals in health policy. Our organization seeks to provide opportunities for networking and professional development to create DC’s next generation of health policy leaders.

The Society is a unique organization aimed at:

  • Fostering new relationships among young professionals in the health, health care, and health policy fields;
  • Providing a forum for networking and socializing;
  • Organizing professional development, educational, skill-building, and community service events; and
  • Connecting young professionals to relevant career and networking opportunities, including access to senior-level health policy professionals.

As the inter-related fields of health care delivery and health policy grow, so does the need to identify and highlight future leaders in these fields. The Society, therefore, aims to create a sustainable, organization that forges meaningful and long-term professional relationships and provides career-development opportunities. To achieve this vision, the Society continues to actively recruit members, increase its visibility, and develop strategic partnerships.

Executive Board

Amit Rao joined Horizon Government Affairs as a Senior Policy Analyst and Manager of Government Affairs in April 2015. At Horizon, Amit analyzes and develops policies to improve the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges, health coverage affordability, and consumer transparency in health care. He also manages regular operations, establishes policy priorities, and works to forge consensus on advocacy for two broad coalitions of payers, employers, life sciences companies, patient organizations, and providers. Finally, Amit advocates for policy recommendations through public-awareness media campaigns, regulatory and legislative comment letters, and stakeholder meetings with Administration and Congressional offices.

Before Horizon, Amit worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for Breakaway Policy Strategies, advising clients regarding ACA implementation, the impacts of health plan benefit designs on market access, and payment and delivery system reforms in Medicare and Medicaid. Amit provided tailored health care trend research and analysis for a broad range of industry stakeholders, including payers, life sciences companies, foundations, trade associations, and advocacy organizations. Prior to joining Breakaway, he started his career as a Project Assistant for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Amit graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and Philosophy and a Minor in Public Policy.

Leif Brierley, MPH, is the Manager of Government Relations, at Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville PC. There, he focuses on federal healthcare and disability policy and serves a variety of clients. Leif employs targeted legislative and political analysis, lobbying and advocacy activity, and strategic coalition management enable the clients he serves to make their greatest impact on policy. His work on legislative and regulatory initiatives is critical to the provider, supplier, policymaker, and consumer groups he serves. In his capacity as Manager of Government Relations, Leif conducts, organizes, and facilitates lobbying and related advocacy events, including congressional briefings, Capitol Hill visits, and federal agency meetings. Additionally, he manages a number of national disability and rehabilitation coalitions run by the Powers public policy and government relations group. These coalitions focus on rehabilitation services and devices, assistive technology, disability and rehabilitation research policy, and access to quality orthotic and prosthetic care.

Previously, Leif served as a David A. Winston Health Policy Fellow (2014-15), a distinguished postgraduate fellowship in health policy awarded to two individuals annually, which includes a full-time work placement in a key health policy development setting. Leif spent his fellowship year working for U.S. Senator Michael F. Bennet. In the U.S. Senate, he covered a broad portfolio of health policy issues through the Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Leif also served as a Senior Analyst at the Advisory Board Company in Washington, DC, where he provided best practice research and strategic guidance for hospitals and health systems across the nation. Prior to his time in DC, Leif spent several years involved in Massachusetts health policy, serving as a Health Policy Analyst for the Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide professional association for physicians and medical students that owns and operates the New England Journal of Medicine.

He is a graduate of the Boston University School of Public Health, where he studied Health Policy & Management, earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. An avid volunteer, Leif enjoys hiking and traveling.  

Rebecca Copeland is currently a Senior Research Analyst at The Lewin Group, a health and human services consulting firm. Currently, she works on an operations transformation project at DC Health Link, the District’s health insurance marketplace. Previously, Rebecca was a Health Policy Fellow at Potomac Research Group following health services, biotech, and pharma legislation and regulation for institutional investors. Rebecca graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee where she studied Medicine, Health, and Society as well as Psychology and honky tonk bars. Originally from Chicago, Rebecca enjoys hiking the mountains of Appalachia on the weekend as well as the trails of Rock Creek Park during the week.  If she’s not outside exploring, you can usually find Rebecca on her bike in the streets of every quadrant in DC or at dancing at 9:30 Club. She is currently a registered Emergency Medical Technician so she can experience the health care system from a clinical perspective.

Stuart Portman, MPH, serves as a health care legislative adviser in the U.S. Senate for Senator Orrin Hatch. In this role, he provides policy recommendations on a variety of health matters ranging from Medicaid and health information technology to disease research and pharmaceutical development, among others. Through Senator Hatch’s position as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and membership on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Stuart continues to study a wide range of current issues in health policy. Prior to his current role, Stuart served as a Graduate Clerk on the Senate Finance Committee analyzing the Medicare audit and appeals process.

Stuart received his Master of Public Health degree specializing in health policy from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. While there, he worked as Research Assistant in the Department of Health Policy and Management on health services legal research investigating the development and sustainability planning for state Health Information Exchange programs. His coursework focused on Medicaid, ethical debates within the health services community, and the intersection between public health and homeland security. Additionally, he is the top recipient of the 2015 American College of Legal Medicine Student Writing Competition in Law, Medicine, and Bioethics Hirsh Award.
Stuart, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, received his B.A. in Biology and Political Science from the University of Denver.

Bryant Conkling is currently a Presidential Management Fellow in the HHS Office of the Secretary. His work involves Medicare policy and budget development. Previously he worked on the Health Insurance Marketplace at CMS and in HRSA’s Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation.

Bryant completed his MPH in Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa in 2014. During graduate school he served as president of the College of Public Health Student Association, research assistant at the Rural Policy Research Institute and spent a summer in Washington working for the National Rural Health Association’s government relations team. Bryant first became interested in public health and health policy while doing HIV/AIDS research as part of a college study abroad program in South Africa.

Ethan Jorgensen-Earp serves as the Membership and Outreach Director of the Society. Professionally, he serves as a legislative assistant at the American Academy of Pediatrics, providing advocacy and policy support for a diverse federal portfolio including adolescent health, tobacco control, substance abuse, workforce, research, drug shortages, and pediatric medical subspecialties. He also provide research and lobbying support for several smaller pediatric research organizations and coalitions. Substantive skills include policy development, policy and legislative writing, and lobbying members of Congress concerning issues related to his portfolio.

Previously, Ethan served as a research associate at America’s Essential Hospitals, coordinating and performing research and writing for several major projects including a 1115 Medicaid waiver in Massachusetts and co-leading communications for an interactive training program to reduce hospital acquired infections.

Ethan received his Bachelors degree in history and bioethics at the University of Virginia and a Masters in Public Administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 2012. In addition to his professional experience, he has served on the executive board and as a committee chair for the University of Virginia Young Alumni Council and serves on the D.C. Public Education Auxiliary Board.

Nicole Braccio, Fellow at Avalere, advises clients on FDA regulatory and policy strategy. She applies her background in pharmacy and medical communications to advise clients on regulatory science as well as track updates in policy and healthcare reform. Nicole has direct clinical experience gained from a variety of patient interactions.

Prior to joining Avalere, Nicole was a Pharmacist with Target Pharmacy, leading a team of pharmacists and technicians to ensure prescriptions were processed accurately while providing effective clinical care. She currently maintains certifications in immunizations and CPR/BLS for Healthcare Providers. She supported the launch of several pilot programs which notably included implementation of medication therapy management and Target’s Specialty Pharmacy to increase patient access to specialty drugs by incorporating community outreach.

Nicole has a Doctor of Pharmacy from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is a Registered Pharmacist in New York and New Jersey.

Tim Epple is a Manager at Avalere Health, providing due diligence and advisory services to private equity firms investing in the healthcare sector. Prior to joining Avalere, Tim was a Consultant at the Advisory Board Company, where he supported hospital and health system clients through the analysis and modeling of healthcare and regulatory data. Prior to that, in his role at ADVI and Precipio Health, he provided advisory due diligence and strategic consulting to healthcare companies as well as private equity firms. He has experience working with healthcare providers, life sciences, and technology companies. Tim has a BA in Economics and a BA in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin, and completed coursework towards an MS in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University.

Chelsea Ukoha is a second-year law student at Howard University School of law and an aspiring health care law attorney. She is interested in the legal, ethical, and policy issues that arise in the field of health care.

This past summer, Chelsea interned in the Maryland Office of the Attorney General- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. During her internship she prepared memorandums of law and conducted extensive research on various administrative issues ,legal issues and ethical issues in health care occupations. Additionally Chelsea was able to attend briefings on world-wide health issues including the Zika Virus outbreak, as well as other briefings involving the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Chelsea holds a BA., cum laude, in Sociology and a minor in legal studies from Texas Tech University.